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Posted on Feb 21, 2018 in Walt Disney World | 0 comments

What You Should Know About The Walt Disney World Union Negotiations

What You Should Know About The Walt Disney World Union Negotiations

What you should know about the Walt Disney World union minimum wage negotiations as it relates to the bonus Disney announced on January 23rd, 2018.

Before you get mad at Disney here is some perspective.

Current Florida Minimum wage at time of article (2018) $8.25 USD per hour.  Disney is already $1.75 starting minimum wage.

Thanks to Disney’s initiative to increase wages in 2014 it not only helped Disney Cast Members but it caused other Florida employers to raise their minimum wage including Universal Studios who followed Disney’s lead.  Keep in mind too that Universal and Sea World are not unionized like Disney World is.

In 2016 the average starting Cast Member earned on average around $2 more per hour than other minimum wage positions in Florida.

The last wage increase in 2014 averaged a 5% increase per year which is 2% higher than the U.S. national yearly wage increase.


Walt Disney World Union Contracts Timeline

2014 – Disney announced minimum wage increase from $8.03 to $10 by 2016

2014 – Disney World begins proposed wage increase with an initial wage increase in 2014 from $8.03 to $9.00 (which is $1.07 above Florida’s minimum wage in 2014)

2017 July – Union announces it will seek minimum wage to reach $15 an hour for Unionized Walt Disney World Cast Members

2017 August – These Union negotiations began

2017 December – In Early December 2017 the union rejected Disney’s offer of a 6% – 10% increase starting the first year an initial $0.50 increase.

2018 January – The $1,000 bonus was announced January 23rd, 2018. 

How many unionized Cast Members are there at Walt Disney World?

                There are roughly between ~36,000 and ~38,000 Unionized Cast Members at Walt Disney World Resort and Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida.

When was the last Walt Disney World Contract Negotiated? 

The current Walt Disney World union contract was negotiated in 2014 and is set to end in 2019 with renegotiations set to being September 2017. (Walt Disney World Union Contracts)

When did negotiations for wage increases begin?

Around July 2017 the Unions stated seeking Disney World union minimum wage pay to $15.  Negotiations were set to begin at the end of August 2017.

Was it before or after the bonus was on the table? 

The bonus was not in play until January 23rd, 2018.

How much were they originally asking for at the beginning of all this? 

The unions were originally looking for $15 an hour and are still looking for $15 an hour even after Disney’s first counter offer of a 6% – 10% increase beginning with an initial $0.50 increase.

What are the wage increase on average in the U.S. and at Walt Disney World?

                On average the yearly increase for wages in the U.S. is around 3%.  A $0.50 increase would be a 5% increase for Disney Cast members which is above the national increase until you factor in that negotiations happen every 5 years. 

The last negotiation happened in 2014 and Disney agreed to increase wages from $8.03 to $10 by 2016.  They immediately increased wages in 2014 from $8.03 to $9 which is a 12.45% increase.  Then by 2016 minimum wage went from $9 to $10 which is an 11.11% increase.  Since the deal was set to be renegotiated in 2019 we need to factor in that that $1.97 increase to get the minimum wage from $8.03 to $10 was spread out over 5 years.  When you do this you see that the increase is 24.53% over 5 years.  Break that down and you are roughly at a 5% wage increase per year which is still above average.

Needless to say that last increase was not only on par with U.S. average wage increases but it was above them.  It would make the most logical sense for Disney at the very least to follow their own numbers of another 25% increase and offer their Cast Members $12.50.  This would meet them half way and give them the same increase they got before that they were happy with.

If Disney is only offering a $0.50 increase for to hold at for the next 5 years then the yearly increase is only 1%

At 40 hours a week for an average full-time Cast Member that equals $20 dollars more per week, $80 more per month and $1,040 more per year.  If you factor the bonus into the 5 year wage increase you still don’t get to the national average of 3%.  You only talking with that bonus as a factor of about $0.09 an hour over 5 years.

If Disney agrees to a $15 minimum wage it would means that Disney Cast Members pay would go from $8.03 in 2014 to minimum $15 in 2019.  That’s an 86% wage increase in 5 years which is 17.2% per year.

Disney just increased their prices shouldn’t have more than enough money to their Cast Members $15 an hour?

I don’t think it is fair to include the recent prices hikes at Disney as Disney does this every year to account for inflation, expansion and other factors of business required to continue growth for the Disney Theme Parks.

I also don’t think it is a fair assessment to assume Disney can just dish out wage increases that large because of how much money they make alone.  You have to look at the actual earnings report to get the full picture of how much is revenue vs how much is earnings.

Walt Disney Company Reports

How much would it cost Disney to pay a $15 minimum wage?

It would cost Disney at least $284,544,000 a year more for the $15 an hour wage vs the $10.50 an hour wage.

38,000 Cast Members at $10.50 an hour for 32 hours a week costs Disney $12,768,000 a week

38,000 Cast Members at $15 an hour for 32 hours a week costs Disney $18,240,000 a week

A difference of $5,472,000 per week which is $284,544,000 a year more

If you raise Union minimum wage you will have to raise other wages as well

My Opinion

I think Disney has done a lot of good for their Cast Members over the years and the fact that they are above Florida’s current minimum wage by $1.75 is proof they are already willingly paying more than they have to by law by almost 15%.  They deserve credit for that.

I don’t think it was right for Disney to hold the bonus of the Unions head to try to force them into accepting their $0.50 increase offer.  I think they should be two totally separate things.  Disney should give those Union Cast Members their bonus without an ultimatum.  The bonus should be looked at as if they were not in negotiations for wages currently.

I think Disney should offer a better wage increase however maybe they are planning to and the $0.50 raise offer was just their first offer and are willing to go higher eventually.  All this that we are seeing might just be Disney’s tactic to get the Union to settle on a lower than $15 an hour wage but higher than $0.50.  This could all just be a bluff.  If it is I don’t think it is cool to play with people’s emotions like that but at the same time until everything is said and done no one has been wronged it’s all been talk.  We are talking the negotiations of 38,000 peoples wage and Unions are not to be looked at as some perfect champion of the people.  They play dirty too.

I hope Disney gives all Cast Members a bonus who they would have given to with or without being in negotiations for wages and I also hope they reach a wage that is at least on par with the percentage increase in wages from 2014-2019.

I don’t think Disney should be getting the hate it is getting as they have done a lot of good by their Cast Members as well as minimum wage workers in the state of Florida and until everything is finalized we should hold our final judgements on the matter until we know what was just negotiating tactics and what was real.


Orlando sentinel

Orlando Sentinel

Theme park University

Orlando Sentinel

Disney Union Contracts – Union Contracts

Walt Disney Company Investor Relations

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