Union documentary portrays poor working conditions at Walt Disney World
The Happiest Place on Earth displays a much sadder side as workers on Tuesday unveiled a union-produced documentary reflecting their poor working conditions.
The Service Trades Council, which claims to represent about 25,000 Disney cast members, has been in negotiation with the Disney bigwigs over pay increases since June. Although Disney officials have offered three-percent wage increases, the union members have rejected the offer. Reasons have ranged that the increase isn't good enough in face of the current recession to working long hours with small benefits.
Curious viewers can watch the documentary's trailer on YouTube which include testimonials from cast members.
One man, David, complains that he has worked there three years and is still making under $8 an hour. A glance at the comments section of the YouTube video seem to collect a number of angry people who know of Disney's practices and are thrilled for the video's release.
Personally, I've worked for a theme park before and if you're at the bottom of the chain, long hours of repetitive tasks for minimum wage is the norm. I entered the park working $7.25/hr and left two years later at $7.73/hr. It's difficult to work for dung while maintaining the smiling image of the company... but like many other theme park employees, I didn't want to leave because the people you meet are priceless and having free admission to many other theme parks was awesome!
In this recession (and any jobless time) when people hold onto their money, anything travel-related is one of the first industries to struggle. Of course Disney was not spared and naturally its employees are feeling the squeeze. I'm all for better working conditions at theme parks but I highly doubt that Disney will be able to fully satisfy the union until the economy improves.
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This is the entire reason that I worked part time when I worked there. I know that most of the full timers worked long and bizarre hours to make ends meet.
Would be interesting to hear from some insider how big of a budget item in percentage of revenue terms those low paid days to day operation staff members are. I think i read that it was surprising low percentage, something below 20%.
Florida is a right to work state and the Union Bosses for years have been beside themselves in their frustration to get every WDW castmember onto the Union rolls, but most importantly get those Union dues. Do Not Be Fooled! The Unions want only one thing and that's control. I don't have time or patience to truly extrapolate on how the Unions suck the life out of the workplace and exist only to fatten the wallets of Union bosses. The people on this video are the squeaky wheels that are trotted out as the rule rather than the exception. Say NO to a fully Unionized WDW!
Unions built America's middle class, and the decline in union representation within America's workforce explains the stagnation and decline in real wages for American families over the past four decades better than any other reason.
(Con't.) Disney can afford to pay its workers more, recession or not. The company is wildly profitable, and theme parks historically have returned one of the most consistently positive returns on investment of any area within the company.
I also wanted to say, shifting dollars from corporate profit to worker wages is a great stimulus to the local economy. Money in Disney's accounts in Burbank or wherever aren't being spent in the Orlando community as much as they would be if more of that money were in the hands of Disney World cast members.
I started with Disney in a non union position back in 2002 at a wage of 10.74/hr and after 4 yrs left the company having seen substantial pay increase based on my performance and not a set amount like union cast members. I would like to see a comparison of pay for union vs non union cast members and see which is better. I bet if they conducted a survey of satisfaction with the company non union cast members would rate it higher then union cast members.
Very well put Mr. Niles
I almost don't know where to start....I believe that today, unions are only needed when there is an abusive employer, and Disney is abusive. As a guest, the Disney experience is truly magical. For the cast members it is shameful. Disney employs different punishment matrix's: one based on attendance and one based on rules that may not have been explained...and this is at the discretion of managers who are also poorly paid and woefully inadequate to manage people.
Would anyone else be surprised if Disney got this taken off Youtube? Those tilt-shift videos were produced for Disney, and I doubt Disney approved their usage here. They probably shouldn't, of course, since the filmmakers can then start with a "OMG Disney is trying to shut us down!" campaign.
I agree with 126.96.36.199 110%. This is the same kind of dirty dealings that the union for the Disneyland hotels is using. They don't care about the employees, they ONLY care about getting more money. They are NO different than Disney.
"They don't care about the employees, they ONLY care about getting more money."
It seems they lose their credibility right off the bat: "I'm hooked. I love what I do. I can't stand what I get paid."
Thanks Robert...your comments are very welcome and it's true, the Unions built the Middle Class in America. Sure, some unions give others a bad name, but in the end the employees benefit when they can collectively bargain over their Wages/Hours/Conditions of employment...anywhere in America, especially in WDW.
It's somewhat ironic that all these people voted for a certain person for President, said person increases healthcare premiums, and now they are screwed. Not Disney's fault.
Easy solution -
Looks like a great propaganda video from the Union. How, in the long run does this help the workes other than trying to get liberal public support for their cause. President Obama is asking for a freeze on Federal Employee Wages, the company I work for has a 3% MAX increase each year. Yet, for some reason, the Union thinks that their mmebers are above the rest of the working people. If these people want more wages they certainly can go get a new job.
Econ 101: Demand sets consumer prices, not production costs. A pay increase for Disney workers will not cause a theme park price increase any more than a lack of a pay increase would prevent one.
Pay increases set prices because the company can only "eat the cost" for so long (or they will decide not to do so anymore). It will attempt to "eat the cost" and then will pass the cost to the consumer at some point. That cost does not have to be in the form of higher prices. It can be in the form of an inferior product, less employees, etc. But it will be passed on.
Robert A. Iger,
Well lets see..Haviing been a cast member at WDW for three years. Let try this one on. They are very demanding jobs, because of guest expectations. After all its Disney. That said Magic cost money. And Disney is the largest employer in central fl. 64,000 hour cast members. Thats a lot of people. ANd those poeple deserve to be paid a fair and livable wage. A lot of cast members cant afford to take a day off sick because of a point system for missing days. Tell me how i have personal time and sick time yet I go to use it I get a 1/4 point? Once I reach 6 points in Fired. And lots of cast members work a mandated 6 day work week during peek season. Often 10 hour days. AS the late great Walt Diney said. " Yoou can build the greatest place in the world. But if you dont have the correct people to run it. No one will come." or something like that. And those cast members peserve evey dime they can get outta of the company. With out them its just a amusment park. I no longer work for them. Ive moved on not because I didnt enjoy it far from it. I couldnt afford to live on it. ANd thats a shame. So tell your big doller mamagment teams . lets make this happest place on earth opf all the guests the cast and eveyone connected with us. Reward those who shine with promotions and pay raises and keep them here for they are turly DIsney.
I have multiple friends that have worked at Disney. Everyone of them has terrible stories. Their wages were horrible. I think a lot of them stayed in the jobs because they liked working with people and making people happy. Disney does not care one hoot about their employee's. They only care about money and making the stock holders happy. I would have to say that Disney and Walmart our two of the worst employers in the United States. I find it hard to belief that they cant raise the pay to an acceptable level without hurting the company's bottom line. The current management in charge of the theme park divison is terrible. The parks are declining in quality and everything feels old and outdated. If your not going to invest in your parks at least invest in your employee's! I guess the jobs are ok for a retired persons or a college kid, but, those two brackets cannot substain the entire company. Everytime I go to Disney I feel more and more disapointed. I hope the management can turn things around soon, before it's too late.
To Robert Niles:
This issue has always been the problem with Disney for, like, forever.
Thanks for the union support Robert - as a union member, I get to see everyday what a large company tries to do to it's employees. Thank goodness we have the union to help us fight for fair treatment & benefits. Would like to comment more on what goes on but I like having a job ..... & who knows who's reading this.
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