Disney Hotel Workers Start Hunger Strike

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A update on the ongoing dispute between Disney hotel workers and management…

The workers union finally agreed to meditate as reported by the OC Register.

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The Disney hotel union agreed to meet with a federal mediator shortly before members began a hunger strike Tuesday night to draw support to their side of a two-year contract dispute.

Outside Disney hotels, about 100 union members and backers marched in the rain, held a candlelight vigil under a tent and prayed as they supported 10 people who plan to consume only water for a week. Protesters, many wearing rain ponchos, presented flowers and candles in front of a picture of a Disney hotel worker who had a fatal heart attack on the job.

About an hour before the protest, Disney received a letter from the union, Unite Here Local 11, saying members would go along with mediation. Disney had sent a letter requesting the joint session Jan. 29. Union officials have said they doubt a resolution will be reached.

“Actions like this are not productive,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, about the hunger-strike event. “We think a more productive path to resolve this issue is through mediation.”

The union got support Tuesday from a prominent labor-movement figure: Dolores Huerta, who co-founded United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. Huerta attended the event and pledged to fast at home for as long as she could.

“Hopefully, this fast will reach their hearts,” Huerta told the crowd about Disney.

Fasters decided to spend the night at the union’s offices, instead of in tents in front of the Grand Californian Hotel, because of the weather.

Brown said Disney planned to offer them a hotel ballroom if they had ended up camping in the rain.

Police determined that tents on public sidewalks are legal, as long as pedestrians can pass.

About 2,150 hotel workers have been working without a contract for two years. The main contention is over health-care costs: The union wants to keep its own health plan, which requires no employee contributions. Disney prefers that the members join the company program that deducts money from employees’ paychecks.

Mouseplanet reported on the Hunger-Strike and has several photos of the strike…

Update on the strike and meditation…

Disney and the hotel union are trying to set a mediation date as early as next week while members continue a hunger strike over a two-year contract dispute.

Ten members of the union, Unite Here, began a hunger strike Tuesday night. One participant, Eddie Carrington, had to drop out of the hunger strike on Wednesday night because his blood pressure was too high, said Leigh Shelton, a union spokeswoman. Carrington works in the laundry department at the Disneyland Hotel and recently hurt his shoulders on the job.

The strikers have set up tents outside the Grand Californian Hotel where they are staying during the week-long fast in which they are only consuming water. Some participants are blogging about their experiences on the union’s Web site HERE.

Disney reached out to the union Jan. 29 to request that the parties meet with a federal mediator, saying the company’s proposal from June still stands. Union members have agreed to meet with a mediator, but asked Disney to improve its offer, Shelton said.

Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, said Disney officials are ready to meet with union negotiators as soon as possible to begin discussions.

Unite Here Local 11 is holding daily events during the hunger strike, including a rally Thursday night that U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, attended, Shelton said.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine is set to perform on Magic Way near the Disneyland Hotel. See a full schedule HERE.

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