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Boycott Surges as Disney’s Sugar Empire Crumbles Amid Horrific Employee Accusations, Shutdown Imminent

Disney Gideon Bakeshop
Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

If you are a fan of the Gideon’s Bakehouse cookie, cake, and coffee offerings, the latest new surrounding the working conditions at the Disney Springs location has posed a harrowing nightmare for employees, and they are asking fans to boycott the sugar in hopes to make a change.

A cake with fruit on top of a table

Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse

When it comes to Disney, food is a major part of the vacation experience for many guests.

Securing reservations at certain Disney dining locations can be quite challenging, particularly at iconic venues like Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom. Here, guests have the opportunity to meet a variety of Disney princesses including Snow White, Jasmine, Aurora, Ariel, and, of course, Cinderella herself. Additionally, breakfast reservations at Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera, Be Our Guest, Space 220, ‘Ohana, California Grill, Roundup Rodeo BBQ, among others, are highly sought after.

Given the difficulty of securing reservations at these popular dining spots, some guests opt for alternatives that offer more availability or operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gideon’s, an Orlando-based cookie shop, boasts a distinctive steampunk-inspired design to complement its extravagant cookies, renowned for their generous size and lavish toppings. With the recent establishment of an official Gideon’s Bakehouse outlet at Disney Springs—no longer limited to selling a select few cookies at Polite Pig—the demand from guests has surged dramatically. So much so that virtual queues for these delectable treats extended beyond 8 hours when the location opened.

Now, lines still are always out the door, with around a 40 minute wait to snag a chocolate chip or cookies and cream cookie with whatever flavored cold brew the location is offering that day. Being so popular, the location is certainly a staple in Disney Springs, or at least it was.

Over the past few years, we have seen Disney cast members take to their unions to fight unfair wages and working conditions against the House of Mouse, and come out on top.

A group of eight actors in early 20th-century themed park employee costumes, smiling and posing in front of a themed building facade.

Credit: Disney

In 2023, unions representing service workers at Walt Disney World reached a preliminary agreement with the company, poised to elevate the starting minimum wage from $15 to $18 per hour by the year’s end. This accord has the potential to establish a benchmark for initial pay across central Florida’s expansive tourism sector.

The Service Trades Council Union coalition, comprising six unions representing Disney World service workers, voted on a new contract. This follows the rejection of a previous offer, which failed to meet the $18 hourly minimum wage requirement. Approximately 45,000 service workers at the Disney theme park resort near Orlando are covered by this agreement.

Cast members received a minimum wage of $17/hour, with $18/hour by December 2023. Back pay of $1 extra per hour since October 1, 2022, also applied to cast members hired on or before that date.

All cast members also received a minimum of a $5.50 raise over the next five years under this new agreement, with the first $3 coming by December 2023. These new minimum wages also applied to all new cast members. By October 2026, the minimum rate increased to $20.50 per hour for current workers, and $20 per hour for all workers hired after December 3, 2023.

This all worked out, however, due to the cast members being represented by a union, which the workers at Gideon’s do not have.

The drama unfolded when Instagram account Ghosts of Gideon’s took to the platform to share the truth on what was going on at the establishment.

Please, lovers of lauded Gideon’s Bakehouse @disneysprings, hear our plea and help end our unsafe and unfair working conditions.

Spread this far and wide. With your help, we can have a safe and fair workplace.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ghosts of Gideons (@ghostsofgideons)

Essentially, the letter is from the employees who are begging Disney and Gideon to make a change to remedy the hazardous working conditions, the vulgar and racial slurs that upper management is using on guests, as well as the harassment and pay disparagement.

The terms set out by the Gideon’s team are as follows: “There is an odor most foul in the Bakehouse. It is the stench of the fish rotting from the head.

To our proprietor Steve, and our managers, Bryan and Patrick:
There is dissension within the ranks, and if the following items are not resolved as we outline below, we’re prepared to drag this house of cards to the ground.

We should start by informing you, that, yes- we are but lowly workers for Gideons, however, we are supported by families who hold prominent positions in the community as lawyers, labor representatives, publicists, and county government workers. Families who love us, and want to
see us remain safely and fairly employed.

Through our vast, and well connected network the following steps have already been implemented:
1) A lawsuit for your numerous unfair and unsafe labor practices and work conditions has been drafted.
2) A press release, along with a copy of this letter, have been sent to local and national media.
3) We have created social channels to connect directly with customers and inform them of the reprehensible work conditions we are enduring.
4) We have filed health and safety reports with local government bodies detailing the extensive issues we are faced with at the Springs location.
5) We have informed Disney Springs leadership of our position relating to the above, and below in this letter.”

To read the full letter, click here.

Overall, the main points of the letter address finances, restaurant policy, and staff treatment.

Gideons Bakehouse in Disney Springs

Credit: Gideons

Employees at the popular Gideon’s Bakehouse in Disney Springs are facing a new policy that restricts them from asking customers for tips. Previously, staff could politely suggest leaving a tip, but under the new rules implemented in early May 2024, they are prohibited from mentioning tips altogether. Tip jars are also no longer allowed to be displayed or labeled.

According to staff reports, these changes have significantly impacted their income. Some employees say they’ve lost over $400 per pay period since the policy was enacted. This is because they are classified as “tipped employees” under Florida law, which means their base wage is $8.98/hour with the expectation that tips supplement their income.

In light of the lost tips, Gideon’s Bakehouse staff are requesting a raise in their hourly wages. They’ve proposed an increase to $16/hour, with a mandatory 7.5% gratuity that would be automatically added to each purchase. This would bring their compensation closer to that of similar venues in Disney Springs, where some positions offer over $18/hour plus tips.

Beyond the tipping policy concerns, Gideon’s Bakehouse staff have also reported troubling incidents of unprofessional conduct by management. These include instances where upper management, including HR personnel, used offensive language towards employees and guests. The language cited includes racial slurs, derogatory terms towards people with disabilities, and language targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

gideons bake house

Credit: Gideons Bakehouse

These are just some of the concerns that are topped with a multitude of others.

The post has already amassed a ton of support, with many stating that they will be boycotting the store, “Wow reading these comments 😮 we love @gideonsbakehouse and had planned to go this trip, but will not be returning until they treat their staff better, pay them a liveable wage and give them better working conditions”.

The post also has a ton of employees commenting, stating that all of this is true, Alex said, “as an og hire for the Disney Springs location, I can say this is ALL true!! and when I started in 2020, it was $7.95 an hour 😭 we made steve a millionaire and never once saw a rate increase. I used to get heat strokes working the virtual queue outside and he never allowed us to wear shorts even when disney had approved them. that man ran that place like a sweat shop, and the environment all together is the most toxic work environment i’ve ever been in, including management. i’m glad someone is finally speaking out and calling attention to this 🙏🏻”.

Others, on the other hand, believe that the demands are too strong and are not happy with the comparison of working at Gideon’s being the same as a slave on a plantation: “Comparing yourself to working on an 1800’s plantation is a huge damn ick. Slavery? Not wanting to shake a drink ten times? UV umbrellas not being totally UV resistant? Getting neck fans and cooling towels but not a big fan?”.

The Ghosts of Gideon’s page provided an update, stating that things have worsened since their initial post, and now, further allegations, including sexual harassment, are being made.

Things have gotten worse. Please continue to make your voice heard. Contact local Orlando media, influencers, and help our story be told. We will not be silenced. Together, we will win safe and fair working conditions.

Thank you for standing with us.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ghosts of Gideons (@ghostsofgideons)

Gideon’s has not issued a statement yet, however, we at Inside the Magic have contacted Patrick for a response. At the time of this article’s publishing, there has been no reply.

Luckily for guests looking to boycott the cookie shop, but still wanting delicious cookies, Summer House on the Lake has a massive cookie bar, that will curb your sweet tooth instantly. Or, you can use our dupe recipe to make them at home for free! 

What do you think of the ongoing issues surrounding Gideon’s Bakehouse? 

This post Boycott Surges as Disney’s Sugar Empire Crumbles Amid Horrific Employee Accusations, Shutdown Imminent appeared first on Inside the Magic.

About Alessia Dunn

Orlando theme park lover who loves thrills and theming, with a side of entertainment. You can often catch me at Disney or Universal sipping a cocktail, or crying during Happily Ever After or Fantasmic.

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