The Walt Disney World Resort Cast Member protest by the Local 737 union continues lobbying the Walt Disney Company for a raise in hourly salaries, as well as petitioning against the anti-LGBT rhetoric preached by the new Reedy Creek Board chosen by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Recently DeSantis assumed control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, in retaliation for Disney’s lack of support for the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in the Florida legislature, as well as queer representation in its media such as Strange World (2022) and Disney+’s Willow. In fact, DeSantis’ board recently hinted at utilizing its new legislative control over the Walt Disney World area and future construction projects to steer Disney’s media offerings away from more LGBTQ+ representation.
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Today, Walt Disney World employees responded through the “Rally for a Raise,” organized by representatives of the Service Trades Council Union group. Of course, the STCU has led protests against the theme park mogul since August, attempting to renegotiate labor contracts that expired last October.
Within the coalition of six different unions, which represent around 42,000 Cast Members in an “economic crisis,” 96% opposed Disney’s most recent contract proposal, which would raise their minimum wage to $20/hr within three years, time which union leaders say many cannot afford to wait for a living wage. Moreover, union leaders are asking that Disney instigate a living wage of $18 per hour now, allowing many magic makers responsible for its enjoyed success within the tourist city of Orlando to provide for families, escape food insecurity, and stop sleeping in their cars.
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According to Deadline, hundreds of Cast Members marched today while chanting, “Walt Disney workers need a raise!” In addition, they carried picket signs reading “Magic doesn’t pay the bills,” “I Need to Afford a Wheelchair Vehicle,” and “I represent disabled workers who need a proper living wage,” as well as American, Puerto Rican, and pride flags. Indeed, union efforts call attention not just to inequality in terms of base pay but also alleged racial, gendered, and disability discrimination within the Company, as well as the threat of DeSantis’ new board towards LGBTQ+ Cast Members.
In fact, one protestor even dressed as the popular character Boba Fett while carrying the rainbow flag aloft! Moreover, Disney has also recently faced backlash from Walt Disney Studios’ production employees within the animation department as they are prevented from unionizing alongside Disney animators.
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STCU President Matt Hollis claims the organizers will resume their protest again on Thursday and will not give up until their employer listens to their demands and both parties are able to reach an amicable compromise that both provides for and protects all Cast Members of all backgrounds.