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Walt Disney World Unions Approve New Contract for Cast Members

Partners statue at Walt Disney World

As we mentioned earlier this week, Walt Disney World and its unions had come to a tentative agreement on a new contract, and after voting on it, cast members overwhelmingly voted to approve the deal.

The Details

According to the unions, 97% percent of the over 12,500 full-time workers who voted supported a contract proposal that will raise Disney’s minimum wage for full-time workers from $15 to $17 an hour immediately. That rate will increase to $18 an hour in December and $20.50 by the contract’s end in October 2026 for current workers.

Unite Here Local 737, one of the involved unions, published a report in November 2022 that found the amount is the minimum that tourism employees need to make to meet basic needs.

According to the report, 69% of hospitality staff surveyed at five Orlando employers, including Walt Disney World, struggled to pay their rent or mortgage each month and 39% worried about becoming homeless. 45% also said they skipped meals to save money for bills, and 25% went without prescribed medicine because of the costs.

This new contract with Disney now gives minimum wage earners the highest theme park pay in Central Florida, though Universal Orlando also raised its starting wage to $17 in February 2023.

In addition to a bump in pay, union representatives said the contract includes a new benefit of eight weeks of paid child bonding leave. This benefit was not included in the former contract that expired in October 2022.

Full retroactive increased pay, dated back to October 2022, will also be issued for all current cast members.

The vote was tallied and announced late on March 28, 2023, at the Wyndham Hotel in Kissimmee, by Service Trades Council Union President Matt Hollis.

In announcing the results, Hollis said, “Union workers at Disney World set the standard for tourism across the entire region. And when union workers win, families across Central Florida see their lives improved. … I’m certain that as we look back in history on this chapter, we will always remember: the union, standing together, made the difference.”

The union coalition says it will return to the bargaining table soon to negotiate a similar contract for the resort’s part-time employees.

Disney’s Response

Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle said in a statement about the new contract:

“Our cast members have always been at the heart of the Walt Disney World experience, and we are thrilled that, with the support of the union, they have overwhelmingly approved this new five-year agreement that significantly increases wages, alongside our leading benefits program that includes affordable medical coverage and more. Frontline employees also have access to 100 percent paid tuition for higher education through the Disney Aspire program.”

Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle statement about the new contract