The Walt Disney Company just announced that it will require all salaried and non-union hourly employees to be vaccinated in order to work on site at any of its locations across the country. The company also said that it will begin negotiations with its unions on vaccinations for union-represented cast members, as well.
Here is Disney's statement:
"At The Walt Disney Company, the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority. Toward that end, and based on the latest recommendations of scientists, health officials and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against severe infection, we are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated. Employees who aren't already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions. We have also begun conversations around this topic with the unions representing our employees under collective bargaining agreements. In addition, all new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before beginning employment. Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees."
Most the front-of-house cast members that guests encounter at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts are union-represented employees, so the company's vaccination mandate will not apply to them immediately. But if Disney is willing to throw in something to sweeten the deal (e.g. providing vaccinations on site and on the clock), I can't imagine that those negotiations won't happen swiftly, extending the vaccination mandate to those workers, as well.
Disney joins a growing list of large private employers in the United States that have mandated vaccination among their employees. The company's decision also puts Disney a step close to the lead in the theme park industry for ensuring that its guests encounter a fully vaccinated work force.
Today's news about the continued spread of Covid through the Delta variant has been grim. Vaccination remains our best defense against the continued loss of life in this pandemic. But with no legal authority to mandate vaccination among the general public in the United States, employers have been taking the lead in pushing those hesitant or opposed to vaccination to get the jab.
So now the question becomes... will Disney move to protect its employees and guests by requiring those guests to prove vaccination to visit a Disney destination, as well? That move would set up what appears to be an inevitable legal battle in Florida and other states that have moved to ban so-called vaccine passports.
Once again... stay tuned. Get vaccinated. And mask up indoors.
* * *
We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that - and our approach to covering theme park, travel, and entertainment news - please sign up for our free, three-times-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.