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Could This Company Decision Compromise the Disney World Service Standard?

Credit: Rice

As the Walt Disney Company heads into its 100th year, theme park experiences and operations have become even more crucial to its continued success. Could its decision regarding Disney World employees’ salaries have devastating consequences for all involved in the future?

The Walt Disney World is an enormous land sprawl comprising four theme park destinations in addition to multiple Resort Hotels, experiences, and the Disney Springs retail district. Of course, that means Disney has to employ a lot of Cast Members to keep everything running smoothly, and when staffing is short, such as in the early days following Disney World’s reopening after shutdowns due to Covid-19, the remaining Cast Members and Disney Guests notice the difference.

Disney World Guest

Credit: Disney

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As a result, it is imperative that Disney both works to satisfy the needs of the Guest, providing only the best in themed entertainment experiences while also properly accommodating the Cast Members responsible for upholding the Five Keys of Disney standards to make that possible. Without Cast Members, there could not be a Walt Disney World for families, friends, and Disney fans of all ages to enjoy.

However, since August, many Disney Cast Members have expressed issues with their ability to continue performing in their roles. For example, the Service Trades Council Union, representing 45,000 Cast Members and employees in the hospitality and Food & Beverage departments across Orlando, has petitioned the Walt Disney Company to renegotiate its contracts since last August.

Disney Cast Member Protest Unsuccessful At Raising Wages • DisneyTips.com

Credit: DisneyTips

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According to a report conducted by representatives of the six unions within the STCU about the current working and living conditions of Disney employees, many Cast Members currently experience homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, and lack of access to resources. Therefore, the STCU recently released a statement communicating the need for an “immediate, large raise” to survive in Central Florida’s current “cost-of-living crisis.”

In fact, due to the rising expenses for rent and other necessities, including transportation to and from the Walt Disney World Resort, the union groups reveal its members live in “a state of emergency.” While Disney Cast Members currently make above minimum wage for the state of Florida, living and working within the high-price tourism areas means this salary does not constitute an actual living wage, which the STCU reveals would be somewhere around $18/hr.

Disneyland Cast members

Credit: Disney

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 Furthermore, union members voiced a desire for an immediate raise in Disney’s wage standard, in contrast to the Company’s proposal to raise its hourly compensation by $1 a year, eventually reaching a more livable wage within up to five years’ time! Unfortunately, Disney workers do not have that time.

Accordingly, the STCU advised its members to vote no on Disney’s proposed contract offer, rejecting the $1/yr raise and continuing the fight for better negotiations. Hopefully, yesterday’s press conference will eventually lead to an agreement that satisfies both sides, or Disney may find itself without any magic makers very soon…

About Spencer Johnette

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the Walt Disney Family Museum halls and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @gothelsflower.