Disney Boosts Minimum Pay by 20% for California Park Staff

(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. will boost its minimum pay for theme-park workers in California to $15 an hour by next year and offer wage increases of about 3 percent annually through 2020 for those already making that amount.

Employees receiving the current $11 minimum wage will get an immediate 20 percent bump to $13.25 an hour and then receive $15 in January, Disney said. At that point, 89 percent of the employees covered by a new labor agreement will earn at least that much.

Employees including ticket takers, custodians and food-service workers at the company’s two parks in Anaheim, California, voted in favor of a new contract Thursday. It applies to about 9,700 of the 30,000 employees at Disneyland and California Adventure. The company said investments in the parks have created almost 2,000 jobs over the past two years.

The Master Services Council, a coalition of four Disney unions, recommended that its members approve the deal. This round of Disney theme-park worker negotiations has been particularly contentious on both coasts, with employees marching in protest over pay and commissioning a study of poverty among park workers.

A separate union, Unite Here, issued a statement pointing out that about 15,000 Disney workers in California who aren’t covered by the new deal still struggle to make ends meet.

“These are the same workers that make the beds and serve the meals for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year,” the union said.

Protest Canceled

Workers canceled a planned protest outside the gates of Disneyland. Employees, some in costumes, voted at Disneyland’s Lincoln Theater.

Anaheim voters in November will get to decide on a union-backed measure that would increase park worker pay to $18 an hour by 2022.

Some 38,000 Disney park workers in Orlando, Florida, rejected a raise to $15 an hour starting pay for new workers last year. The unions there are expected to resume talks with Disney on Aug. 15, according to Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362 in Orlando, which represents custodians, vacation planners and food services employees there. One sticking point is scheduling workers’ hours, Clinton said.

Disney is the world’s largest theme park operator with about 150 million visitors last year, according to an annual report published by the Themed Entertainment Association. The parks and resorts division generated $3.8 billion in operating income last year, about 25 percent of the company’s total. The company is the largest employer in Orlando and Anaheim.

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