What do they say to do when buying a car? Always reject the first offer. Disney World Cast Members must have been feeling thin in the pocket book because, in a tight vote last night the members of the UniteHERE union coalition have rejected the offer currently on the table.
The vote was 52% against the new contract. This is a little surprising to me given that five of the six unions in the coalition recommended the contract to their members. (The Teamsters were the hold outs.) On the otherhand, I expected the unions to push harder for a better deal based on favorable labor conditions this year.
With low unemployment and the troubles Disney World is having finding and keeping new cast members, the unions would seem to have their strongest bargaining position in years. The employees do have a number of valid grievances as well. Outsourcing, scheduling favoritism, low pay, and higher health costs just to name a few.
In the back of my head I hoped the Cast Members would take this opportunity to stand up and ask for more. The rumblings I’ve heard over the last year told me there was a lot of desire to see improvements. I guess the union leaders weren’t listening close enough to their members when they negotiated the first agreement. Now it’s back to the bargaining table for both sides to see if more of the cast members grievances can be soothed.
The current contract has been extended to May 28th and will likely be extended again before a strike is imminent. Here’s where things get a little speculative. The threat of a strike scares both sides. Cast Members, frankly, aren’t known for their huge savings account. So a strike of any length would threaten their ability to pay the bills. This is why they folded during the last negotiations. Disney, on the other hand, would have big troubles finding replacement workers if the other unions honor the picket lines. But about half the employees of Walt Disney World don’t belong to any union, so Disney could operate on a rotation schedule with one or two parks closed each day. Still the resort would be open even during a long strike. If Cast Members are going to strike, this is the year to do it. Many could find other jobs during the strike as workers are in need all over central Florida. That just might be enough to force Disney to make some real concessions this year.
Any Cast Members reading care to share what you would like to see from Disney’s next offer? (Link)