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Disney World and Largest Union Group return to negotiations today

Walt Disney World and its largest union group, the services trade council, heads back to the negotiating table with a federal mediator today. While no one is optimistic that the differences can be resolved today, no one is worried about an impending strike either.

The Service Trade Council is actually compose of six separate unions and Disney has done a masterful job of dividing them. Three of the unions support the deal because the offer from Disney favors their members who typically have a higher wage and require more specialized skills. While the offer on the table from Disney is less rewarding to other unions who feel that their members are being asked to take too big of a financial hit during tough economic times. Of course the latter group is more numerous than the three happy unions. Hence the rejection of Disney’s offer last October.

By sticking firm to what it calls its ‘Best and Final’ offer made in October, Disney is hoping to split the Services Trade Council and reduce the likelihood and impact of strikes or other job actions from a group of 20,000 cast members, which would be much more difficult for Disney to handle than if just 3,000 were on strike.

Disney had better be careful, however. By entering into federal mediation without any serious intent to negotiate a different offer, they could be in violation of the law and subject to penalties from the National Labor Relations Board.

We’re talking a difference of nickels and dimes in pay increases on the lowest end of the pay scale and slighlty better health care coverage for families. With Disney stock at its highest point in a decade, ticket prices going up every year, a recession that didn’t impact the parks as severely as they had worried, and travel forecast for a recovery, I hope Disney can find some magic in their hearts and a few pennies in their wallets to improve the quality of life for their front line employees.

6 thoughts on “Disney World and Largest Union Group return to negotiations today”

  1. Is there any way that Disney may be trying to get out relying on Unions? Are you required to be in a union to work for the company?

    It just seems like there is some kind of “message” they are trying to convey if they are holding fast and seemingly willing to royally anger 3 of the 6 unions that hold the lion’s share of the labor

  2. The proposal, as I understand it, provides for raises (and bonuses) for all employees, as well as increased health insurance premiums. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that all but the lowest paid workers who have the most expensive healthcare plans will bring home more money.

    The days of an employer taking care of your health insurance and you paying a token amount (or none at all, as it was in media companies when I started my career), are ending. Those days were great, but they also lulled us all into this sense that health insurance doesn’t cost much. The fact is, most of us just had no idea how much our employer was paying on our behalf.

    Now I run a business, and I know all too well about the costs. My company’s health insurance premiums jumped 18 percent at the renewal this past October. Yes, 18 percent in one year. That is not a typo. It costs me nearly $1,600 per month to insure a family, and I pass along about $240 of that cost to my employee. I had no choice but to pass along part of that premium increase to meet the profit expectations of my investors. And yes, that means many of my employees are bringing home slightly smaller paychecks than they were last year at this time.

    While I understand that many think it would be easy for Disney to throw more money at this situation and make it go away, the reality is that this is happening everywhere. Americans (the employed ones – and let’s not forget there are lots of unemployed ones out there) are seeing their paychecks shrink. Why is Disney required to be the exception to the rule?

  3. Pingback: Disney, Union extend contract after meeting with mediator | The Disney Blog

  4. WDW has always been organized by Unions at the insistence of the company. According to Realityland by David Koepp, Unions were the only way to set up and organize such a large labor force without chaos. Also it prevented one Union from coming in and trying to capture the entire labor force behind Disney’s back like what had happened with the animators in the 1940’s. It was just good business.

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