Many team members at the Universal Orlando Resort will be getting a raise this June, Universal announced today.
Universal Orlando will raise its starting rate for team members at the resort to $17 an hour, up $2 from the current $15 an hour, starting June 4. That will put Universal ahead of rival Walt Disney World on starting employee pay - at least for now.
Walt Disney World cast members recently rejected a proposal from Disney for a $1 an hour pay raise. Disney's cast members are represented by unions, while Universal Orlando's team members are not. For decades, Disney's union negotiations effectively set the standard for wages in the Orlando area, as Disney is so big that employers who went too far below Disney's pay found it difficult to attract workers that wouldn't pretty much flake immediately.
In recent years, as Universal's attendance and revenue has soared following the opening of its Harry Potter lands, Universal Orlando has gotten more aggressive in trying to anticipate and get out ahead of Disney's pay increases, to give it first crack at workers looking for a new gig in the Orlando area. Once the proposed $1 an hour raise at Disney went down, Universal knew that it was going to have to go to at least $2 an hour to hope to stay even with Disney. Pay also will rise for Universal workers making above the company's minimum.
"Wage is just one element of our continued focus on building an even better Universal Orlando work experience," a Universal Orlando spokesperson said in a statement released to the press. "We aspire to be the employer of choice in this market - providing an inclusive environment where Team Members are proud to work, have an opportunity to grow and feel a real sense of purpose and belonging."
Universal's move also effectively eliminates any chance that Disney would play hardball with its unions and refuse to go above its rejected $1 offer. Universal Orlando's $17 now is the floor upon which Disney's unions can negotiate, trying to convince Disney management to go above and re-establish Walt Disney World as the premier working environment for theme park employees in the Orlando area.
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