Orlando, Florida, USA : The six labor Unions representing 38,000 service employees at Walt Disney World have reached an historic contract settlement that will raise starting pay from $10 to $15.
“These Union raises will be life-changing for the women and men who welcome millions of tourists to Walt Disney World,” said Matt Hollis, President of the Service Trades Council Union. “Now money tourists spend here in Central Florida will stay here, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into local small businesses.”
The Union raises will bring an estimated $1 billion influx of additional wages into the Central Florida economy over the term of the 4-year contract, according to the STCU.
The new contract will raise the minimum pay to $11 in December 2018, $12 in March 2019, $13 in September 2019, $14 in October 2020 and $15 in October 2021. Employees whose current pay is above $10 will receive at least $4.75 in raises by October 2021, with $2.50 within the first 6 months.
“These Union raises at Disney will benefit everyone in Central Florida,” said Jeremy Haicken, Secretary Treasurer of the Service Trades Council Union. “Disney did the right thing by raising wages. Living wages mean Cast Members will spend more locally on school supplies and clothes for their kids, drive more dependable cars and go out to eat in local restaurants. These Union raises are for everyone!”
Other non-union employers like Universal announced similar raises after Disney agreed to raise minimum pay from $8 to $10 in 2014.
The STCU hopes the new Union increase will create a ripple effect as employers raise wages to keep employees in a tight labor market.
The new agreement will end on October 1, 2022.
The six affiliated Unions’ members will vote on the new agreement on September 5 and 6. “I expect it to be a resounding ‘yes,'” said Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362. “We’ve had excellent turnout. People feel so high … I walked in this morning at 7 a.m. for a staff meeting and people were clapping and cheering, and they just really feel great.”
If approved, it could have a big impact in the theme park mecca since Disney tends to influence what other Orlando tourism businesses pay their workers,
Disney reached a deal in July to lift the minimum hourly wage to $15 for 10,000 Disneyland workers in Anaheim, California beginning next year. That agreement also ended a long battle with union representatives.
The company signaled in June that it was willing to offer a $15 minimum wage to Walt Disney World employees, but negotiations remained hamstrung over certain provisions Disney wanted to include in the new contract. They included rules governing scheduling and how employees are paid for working overtime and holidays.
Disney (DIS) said in a statement that the deal contains the “largest proposal ever offered by Walt Disney World Resort with significant pay raises.”
Robbin Almand, vice president of labor relations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company was “thrilled” to offer “what is one of the highest entry-level service wages in the country.”
The deal also includes an offer to retroactively pay workers an additional 50 cents an hour or 3% —whichever is greater — for all hours worked since September of 2017.
Maddy Johnson, a University of Central Florida student who works more than 50 hours a week at Disney, said she’s been employed by the park for five years and hasn’t seen any significant raises. She makes $11 an hour as an attractions hostess at the Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris.
When she got word about the deal reached Friday, she said she cried.
“I work overtime to try to make ends meet,” Johnson said. “I never thought I’d get to see an increase that’s so historic, and so huge that’s going to impact every Cast Member.”