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In Victory for Workers Demanding 'Justice and Dignity,' Disneyland Employees Secure $15 Minimum Wage

"It's important for Disney, as the largest employer in Orange County, to recognize the struggles workers go through as the cost of living continues to rise in the area."

Disneyland workers and supporters rally while protesting low pay and calling for a living wage at the Disneyland entrance on July 3, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Weeks after joining in union organizers' months-long fight to secure a living wage for thousands of Disneyland workers, Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vt.) was among the progressives who applauded a new three-year contract for workers at Orange County, California's largest employer, giving employees an immediate raise followed by one that will bring the park's minimum pay up to $15 per hour next year.

Nearly 10,000 workers represented by four unions submitted secret ballots Thursday, with the majority voting in favor of a new contract that will raise their hourly wages by 20 percent, effective immediately.

The victory for workers comes months after a poll by the unions found that about three-quarters of Disneyland's workers were struggling or unable to pay for rent, food, and gas on their salaries.

"It's important for Disney, as the largest employer in Orange County, to recognize the struggles workers go through as the cost of living continues to rise in the area," Artemis Bell, bargaining committee member and custodian, told the Los Angeles Times. "With this contract, we are one step closer to a better situation for thousands of employees who put so much energy and heart into their jobs."

Under the new contract, the minimum hourly pay will be raised to $15 per hour in January for food service workers, custodians, retail workers, ride operators, and other workers who keep the park running for its 18 million visitors per year—who bring in billions of dollars in revenue annually. In June 2020, an extra $0.50 per hour is set to be added to salaries, but a measure that will appear on ballots in November aims to give Disneyland workers an even better deal. 

This past spring, workers gathered enough signatures to add to the November 6 ballot a measure that would require all hospitality employers in Anaheim that accept city subsidies to raise their minimum pay to $15 per hour in January and raise wages by $1 per hour every year until 2022, when raises would be required to be tied to cost of living.

While only 10,000 Disneyland workers are members of the four unions who reached the minimum wage deal on Thursday, all 30,000 park employees would be affected by the "Living Wage" ballot measure.

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