After Ruling That Disney Does Not Have to Pay a Living Wage, Many Are Encouraging Cast Members to Unionize and Strike

Credit: Disney

On November 3, an Orange County, California Superior Court judge ruled that Disney is not required to pay a living wage to more than 25,000 Cast Members who work at the Happiest Place on Earth. The crux of the lawsuit? Cast Members claimed that Disney received a subsidy from the city of Anaheim in order to build the Mickey and Friends parking structure. That subsidy required Disney to pay Cast Members a living wage based on Anaheim’s Measure L, which was voted into law in 2018.


Credit: Disney

Judge William Claster determined that, while Disney has received significant benefits from the city of Anaheim, they are not technically subsidies, therefore, Disney does not have to pay higher wages. Per Variety:

Judge William Claster’s ruling found that Disney is not technically receiving a city subsidy, though they do receive a “significant benefit” from the city.

“Whether the Disney defendants received a ‘public subsidy’ in a general sense is a different question from whether they received or have a right to receive a city subsidy as defined, i.e., a rebate of taxes (in the form of a refund, abatement, exemption, etc.),” Claster said.

Credit: Disney

Disney’s current minimum wage is $15.50, which is above California’s $15, but the living wage calculator determined that a single person living in a one-bedroom apartment in Orange County needs to make above $22 per hour to stay above the poverty line. If the Judge had decided that Disney had in fact received subsidies, Disney would have been required to pay Cast Members $18 per hour, with cost-of-living wages added to base pay every year.

California Adventure

Credit: Disney

Even though Disney does mostly pay above California’s minimum wage, many who are living on that pay say that it is simply not enough. In fact, a 2018 study revealed that over two-thirds of Disneyland Cast Members have experienced food insecurity and one in ten had experienced homelessness from 2016 to 2018. Almost 75% of those surveyed said that they did not make enough to cover their basic expenses.

Disneyland Cast Members

Credit: Disney

With the Judge ruling against those Cast Members fighting for higher wages, many are taking to Twitter to encourage Disneyland Cast Members to unionize and possibly strike. This is not the first time that Cast Members have considered striking, or have actually gone on strike. One Disneyland Cast Member indicated that many Cast Members are working on contract extensions and if their new contract demands are not negotiated, there is a large possibility they will strike.

Credit: Disney

Avra Cadaver Arts believes that the only way Disney will realize how valuable their employees are is if the employees walk out.

With the money they make they can afford to pay a living wage. Msybe [sic] if 25,000 walk out and others refuse to be hired for less, they’ll stop being so greedy and treating employees like their [sic] privileged to work there.

Bryan Aiello believes that paying a living wage means more than just paying your bills, it means being treated with dignity.

This sucks. I want to like Disney. I want to take my family there and pay the absolutely painful admission cost and not care how much turkey legs and dole whips are while I stand in line for eternity. Globally, we deserve more than just a living wage. We deserve dignity.

Chelle believes that workers should strike since Disneyland keeps increasing the cost of tickets — and now parking — but refuses to pay their employees a living wage.

The AUDACITY of Disneyland to raise prices for consumers but not meet union demands of a pay increase THAT STILL ISNT ANYWHERE NEAR the living wage for the area. As a customer, I find it unacceptable. If Disney doesn’t come correct, I hope they do strike.

There are also many who feel that just because the judge ruled against the Cast Members, that does not mean that Disney shouldn’t increase Cast Member pay. They believe that paying Cast Members more is just the right thing to do.

Lindsay Sue is one of those people.

Technically I guess Disney doesn’t HAVE to but they SHOULD. I am a part of the Disney adult cult and even I get disappointed with them. This is definitely disappointing

Randy Rennick, the attorney representing the Cast Members has said that the judgment was disappointing and has indicated that his clients will most likely appeal the decision.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!