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Walt Disney World’s largest unions approve contract with path to $15 an hour starting wage

Today almost 14,000 Walt Disney World unionized Cast Members voted for a new contract that promises to raise their starting wage by 50% to $15 an hour by the year 2021. This move will make Walt Disney World’s one of the highest entry-level wage within the service and hospitality industry in the United States.

The vote means the more than 37,000 cast members represented by the Service Trades Council (STCU), including lifeguards, bus drivers, and housekeepers will see starting pay increase to $11 an hour in December (for non-tipped positions). In March 2019, starting rates will rise to $12 an hour; $13 an hour in September 2019; $14 an hour in October 2020; and finally, $15 an hour in October 2021.

Eligible Cast Members will also receive retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or 3 percent, whichever is greater, dating back to Sept. 24, 2017; they will also receive a one-time, $1,000 bonus. Additionally, the increase will substantially raise the earning potential of current Cast Members whose pay is already above $10 an hour, giving them at least $4.75 an hour more by October 2021.

“Our 50 percent wage increase will have a real, meaningful impact on our Cast and their families—and is part of our commitment to the thousands of Cast Members who make magic for our guests each and every day,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “Increasing wages for Cast Members represents a significant investment in Central Florida, and will provide a powerful boost to the local economy.”

As Walt Disney World continues to add new attractions, hotels, restaurants and all the support infrastructure, will need to attract more great employees in a tough hiring market. Offering $15 an hour starting wage contract should help that for sure. It will also be a good result for Orlando’s economy as other local businesses in the hospitality setting will need to follow suit.

The final vote was 13,557 for the new contract and 116 against. So it wasn’t even close. This collective bargaining agreement runs through October 2022.

A similar contract agreement was struck with Disneyland’s largest labor unions although the political system in Anaheim has a lot of wage issues currently up in the air out there.