Union members who work at Walt Disney World voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday and Wednesday to reject a new contract deal that would have raised their wages by 6-10% over the next two years. Nearly 10,000 of the 38,000 Disney workers represented by the Service Trade Council Union (STCU) cast a vote, with 93% rejecting the contract, according to Orlando Weekly. STCU is a coalition of six unions who represent Disney workers, including Unite Here Locals 362 and 737.
Disney’s contract offer would have given full-time and part-time cast members (except those who receive tips) a raise of 3% or $.50 an hour, whichever was higher, retroactive to September 24, 2017. Cast members would receive another identical raise in September 2018. The offer also included a one-time $200 bonus for full-time cast members and those who receive tips, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Most new Disney workers start at $10 an hour (Florida’s minimum wage is $8.10/hour), and the union is seeking to increase that to $15 an hour. Roughly 23,000 of the cast members represented by the union make less than $12 an hour.
Disney’s offer would have increased the starting wage to $11 an hour over two years. The company estimates that its average hourly wage is $13.34 including overtime and premium pay. In statements to the Orlando Sentinel and to Orlando’s ABC affiliate, Disney agreed that cast members deserve a raise and was disappointed that its “fair and reasonable” offer was rejected.
Earlier this year, Disney also began offering or increased signing bonuses for certain positions, including culinary employees, housekeepers, and bus drivers, the Sentinel had reported at the time. November data from the U.S. Department of Labor puts the Orlando unemployment rate at only 3.2%, below the national average of 4.1%.
With the contract rejected, both parties will return to the bargaining table in February. They’ve been at odds on contract negotiations since the summer, and Disney had already requested a federal mediator to assist.