“Magic Doesn’t Pay the Bills”: Walt Disney World Workers March Near Park, Demand “A Fair Wage”

A large group of Walt Disney World employees marched near — but not on — Walt Disney World property today, holding signs that said “Magic Doesn’t Pay The Bills” and chanting “need a raise.”

The Services Trades Council Union (STCU), which is a coalition of six unions representing close to 42,000 WDW cast members, is negotiating a new contract with Disney this week. The old agreement , which expired October 1, raised the minimum wage from $10 to $15. Among the group’s concerns this time are wage increases, healthcare costs, child bonding leave, retirement, and premiums.

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Earlier this month, the union asked for a minimum wage of $18 an hour in the first year of a new contract. Disney, for its part, has said it proposed “a path to $20 an hour for starting wages.” According to Orlando Sentinel reporter Katie Rice, Disney’s proposal was to raise the minimum wage $1 a year until it reaches $20, meaning five years hence.

Unite Here Local 737, which is one of the unions whose members marched today, recently released the results of a survey of its members in which 69% said that, at some point in the past year they didn’t have money to pay their rent or their mortgage, 62% said they had less than $100 in the bank and just below 50% said they had skipped meals because they couldn’t afford the price of food. Nearly 40% of the members said they worried about becoming homeless. According to one report, the average rent in the metro Orlando area rose 23% in the past year.

Unite Here Local 737 represents workers in Walt Disney World Food & Beverage and Housekeeping, Palmas Services, Patina Restaurant Group, the Hilton Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando and Centerplate at the Orange County Convention Center.

Deadline reached out to Walt Disney World and will add any comment received.

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