Cast members at Walt Disney World soon may see a little more padding in their paychecks, after Walt Disney World and six local labor unions reached a tentative agreement on increased wages.
According to a press release from UNITE HERE, a union that represents workers throughout the United States and Canada, the agreement between the Service Trades Council Union — which represents six unions covering 38,000 Walt Disney World employees — and Disney would raise starting pay from $10 to $15 an hour. Members of the six affiliated unions were set to vote on the new agreement on Sept. 5 and 6.
“The contract provides for a historic wage increase that will change Central Florida and the hospitality industry for the better,” said Eric Clinton, president of UNITE HERE Local 362.
According to the statement, non-tipped employees’ starting pay will be gradually raised from $10 to $15 per hour by 2021. The first increase will take place in December, bumping up to $11 an hour; a second will increase pay to $12 in March 2019. Workers will receive $13 in September 2019, $14 in October 2020 and $15 by October 2021.
Employees currently paid $10 per hour or more will receive at least $4.75 in raises by October 2021, with $2.50 within the first six months. The new agreement will end on Oct. 1, 2022.
Under the agreement, eligible employees also will receive their one-time discretionary bonus of $1,000, paid in one lump sum. Disney previously announced in January it would give $1,000 bonuses to employees following a tax cut passed by Congress but then said union members would not receive the bonus during pay-raise negotiations.
Areas covered under the scope of agreement include all Disney cast members covered by the six STCU unions. Third-party locations at Disney Springs have no union and thus are not part of this agreement.
Disney officials call it the “largest proposal ever offered by Walt Disney World Resort,” because it also includes retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or 3%, whichever is greater, for all employees’ hours worked back to Sept. 24, 2017.
“These union raises will be life-changing for the women and men who welcome millions of tourists to Walt Disney World,” said Matt Hollis, STCU’s president. “Now, money that tourists spend here in Central Florida will stay here, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into local small businesses.”
Walt Disney World’s agreement with STCU comes about a month after unions representing workers at California’s Disneyland won their battle for $15 minimum wage. In Florida, minimum wage is currently set at $8.25 per hour, while California’s is $11.
The unions and Disney previously agreed in 2014 to raise starting pay from $8 to $10 per hour. According to UNITE HERE, other non-union employers, such as Universal Orlando Resort, followed suit with similar raises to match the new standard at Disney.
“SeaWorld has a competitive pay philosophy, and we are continually assessing internal and external factors to ensure we stay competitive within the industry, including in the Orlando area,” said Travis Claytor, SeaWorld corporate director of communications, on behalf of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Universal did not return requests for information on current wages or plans before press time.
In addition, Disney also is set to launch a new program which would pay hourly workers’ full tuition toward obtaining a college degree or finishing a high-school diploma.