Disney and union still without agreement at Walt Disney World as deadline approaches

Posted Thursday, November 30, 2017 12:02 PM | Contributed by Jeff

As a mediator walked from one room to another and then back again, 38,000 unionized Disney workers waited to hear if a compromise on pay raises had been reached Wednesday. Currently, new Disney employees earn $10 an hour but the union wants that raised to average worker pay to top $15 an hour. Disney has offered a 5 percent raise over two years, which the union has rejected.

Read more from WFTV/Orlando.

Thursday, November 30, 2017 8:42 PM

Are there Disney Cast Members who are underpaid? Of course. Does every entry level Cast Member operating a ride or working in a quick service food location "deserve" to start out at $15 and hour? Not a chance.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017 9:10 PM
Jeff's avatar

And that's why I find unions to be problematic, though not all unions. I've seen a number of reasonable theories that conclude unions share much of the blame for the downfall of Detroit, for example. Making $50k to bolt on a part over and over after a few hours of training is not reasonable. But in other cases, especially in skilled trades, the unions have historically protected workers with regard to safety issues. Heck, even the story last year about dancers in the Festival of The Lion King show at Animal Kingdom requiring clean costumes was more than reasonable. I think that's the fundamental difference in how unions do and don't make sense. If they exist to subvert market forces with regard to salary, they have a damaging effect over time. If they exist to protect workers against occupational hazards, then I get it.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, December 1, 2017 7:43 AM
99er's avatar

I think even entry level at least deserve a living wage but agree with what Jeff said with skilled vs. unskilled. That said what a lot of these news articles have been leaving out is that some skilled labor positions are included in these negotiations. One for example are the Stagehands and the contract Disney has with IATSE. They too are fighting for a wage that is more inline with what is made within the industry locally and something more than what a Ride Host is making. Personally I believe that is a job that should get the wage they deserve since the job requires a degree, isn't entry level, and with some disciplines come with a high safety risk. The company was basically founded on entertainment and that is what the parks run off of so for Disney to consider those within that department no different than entry level is a bit absurd.


-Chris
Remember, if you're arguing on the internet, you've already lost.
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Friday, December 1, 2017 8:57 AM
Jeff's avatar

My wife is an inactive Equity member (stage manager), so I get it, but I still think there is a market dynamic there. An IATSE member working the Beauty and The Beast show at DHS is not the same caliber of worker who lands at Dr. Phillips Center, and there are people lined up behind the parking tolls ready to snort pixie dust and have that job. They're not touring Wicked here, they're running a show that's easy to train for that's been running for years or decades. Now stage managers and performers in certain shows (Nemo, Indiana Jones, the house crew for American Gardens Theater, I think that's something different. If all the unions are combining forces, I think that doesn't make sense.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, December 1, 2017 11:16 AM
TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

If minimum wage had just been indexed to inflation, (not even tied to cost of living) when it was instituted it would be $18/hr. Stop arguing about what people deserve when the numbers you're talking about aren't even enough to pay to support a family.


The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

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Friday, December 1, 2017 12:02 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast said:

If minimum wage had just been indexed to inflation, (not even tied to cost of living) when it was instituted it would be $18/hr.

That's just blatantly false.

According to this chart from CNN accounting for inflation, minimum wage, when instituted would be $4.19 in 2015 dollars. In fact, at no time in the history of minimum wage does it ever equal $18 when accounting for inflation.

According to this BLS calculator, 25 cents in 1938 (minimum wage when instituted) would be $4.34 today.

You're WAY off.


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Friday, December 1, 2017 1:42 PM

I grew up in a Ford town. Knew someone making $90k/year (20 years ago) driving cars off the line over a bridge, parking them in lines to be loaded on rail cars and hopping in a van to go back to the line to start over. And that was base. He got a lot of overtime because when the plant was down, they would bring the cars back to the plant and correct/fix issues rather than pushing them to the dealers when the plant was busy. He had been there 25+ years. It just wasn't sustainable. Plant is now closed.

How is a "living wage" defined?

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Friday, December 1, 2017 1:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

And I would argue that a working couple making $10/hr., full-time, make $40k a year before taxes. Let's say that's net $2,666 a month, based on 20% taxes (which would be extremely high at that income level). You can find an apartment under $1k even in Orange County (disclaimer: I work for the company that runs that site). Take another $600 for two used cars, gas and insurance (again being liberal with spending). $300 for utilities and phone. $500 for food. There's still money left over while overstating the tax burden and expenses.

Now, I will reiterate that working a $10/hr. job indefinitely at Walt Disney World is not a career. If you want better, you have to learn how to do stuff that makes you more valuable. Heck, in the same locale, there are apprentice trades making $40k in a market where construction schedules slip because there aren't enough people to do the work. (Those are the jobs the immigrants often fill, by the way, because apparently the "natives" are too good for those gigs.)


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, December 1, 2017 4:53 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

GoBucks89 said:

How is a "living wage" defined?

MIT seems to have a good definition.

I checked out my county and it seems pretty close on what I pay for living expenses.

Do I think minimum wage should be set to a living wage? Well...it looks pretty darn close now (Ohio is $8.15 an hour) as long as you don't have kids. $9.92 an hour if you live alone and $8.30 an hour if you live with another adult.

And as Lord Gonchar pointed out, the original minimum wage would be $4.34 today adjusted by inflation. It's nearly double that amount now. Our standard of living and expectation of valuables like having your own car, your own phone, your own home, utilities, tv, entertainment; none of that really existed in the 1930's when minimum wage started.

All raising minimum wage is going to accomplish is raise the prices of the products you're trying to buy, which means you'll need higher wages to afford. In all reality you're just driving down the value of other careers that were above minimum wage in the first place.

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Friday, December 1, 2017 5:16 PM
99er's avatar

Jeff said:

An IATSE member working the Beauty and The Beast show at DHS is not the same caliber of worker who lands at Dr. Phillips Center...

They're not touring Wicked here, they're running a show that's easy to train for that's been running for years or decades.

Except that they are the same caliber and in some cases even better. All are from Local 631 and many who work at Disney also work downtown for any show that tours through Dr. Phillips. A friend of mine works at Disney and in the summer is Kenny Chesney's head of lighting. Another has worked on Wicked, Lion King, Phantom, to name a few and the rest of the year works as a Tech at Disney. Of course the level of talent isn't high for everyone at Disney and there are shows that have easy tracks to run but most come with the skill to work broadway, television, and film as many do that already part-time. I just think its crazy to require a degree, call it skilled labor, require ongoing training, but still pay the same as the guy directing traffic in the parking lot. Should they make as much as Local 1?...Of course not but the job should at least be paying more than the guy selling popcorn on Main Street.

Last edited by 99er, Friday, December 1, 2017 5:41 PM

-Chris
Remember, if you're arguing on the internet, you've already lost.
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Friday, December 1, 2017 10:09 PM
Jeff's avatar

Ability and job requirements aren't the same thing. Being overqualified and underpaid doesn't strike me as a problem with the employer. There's a reason that IATSE guys end up touring or moving to big theater markets... it's where the skilled jobs are, and the money. My point stands, that the required skills for a Disney show are not the same as those for professional theater.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Saturday, December 2, 2017 5:15 PM

HeyIsntThatRob? said:

GoBucks89 said:

How is a "living wage" defined?

MIT seems to have a good definition.

I checked out my county and it seems pretty close on what I pay for living expenses.

Do I think minimum wage should be set to a living wage? Well...it looks pretty darn close now (Ohio is $8.15 an hour) as long as you don't have kids. $9.92 an hour if you live alone and $8.30 an hour if you live with another adult.

And as Lord Gonchar pointed out, the original minimum wage would be $4.34 today adjusted by inflation. It's nearly double that amount now. Our standard of living and expectation of valuables like having your own car, your own phone, your own home, utilities, tv, entertainment; none of that really existed in the 1930's when minimum wage started.

All raising minimum wage is going to accomplish is raise the prices of the products you're trying to buy, which means you'll need higher wages to afford. In all reality you're just driving down the value of other careers that were above minimum wage in the first place.

Well to even gain employment you NEED a phone number; you need a home address (you also need to pay utilities), you need transportation, none of these are non essentials when it comes to employment. Certainly not unrealistic to expect enough compensation to cover these costs employment necessitates.

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Saturday, December 2, 2017 5:54 PM

By the way; this article has absolutely nothing to do with minimum wage. This does relate to 28,000 employees negotiating a new contract with their employer. At first glance, asking for a 50% increase in pay seems extraordinary, but anyone who’s been a part of contract negotiations knows these are merely bargaining tactics. Employer lowballs, and union counters with extremely high counter proposal.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017 1:46 AM
99er's avatar

Jeff said:

My point stands, that the required skills for a Disney show are not the same as those for professional theater.

There really isn't much difference in the two. An IATSE stagehand in Orlando isn't going to be any less qualified than one in NYC just because of location. The last large broadway tour I worked was CATS as the flyman and it, along with the other tracks on the show were simple. Most broadway and touring shows have pretty simple tracks as most are followable on paper (the only way a Local Crew can learn a new show every couple weeks). But there is more to IATSE than broadway and I would say that is more of what Disney does over stage shows. Don't look at the 4 or 5 stage shows Disney has and start looking at the larger events that they do. Compare those skills to outside of Disney and you aren't going to see much difference. But that's not to say there aren't hard jobs in professional theater but the same can be said at Disney. Some jobs require a 3 to 4 week training because of the complexity of the systems used.

Last edited by 99er, Sunday, December 3, 2017 1:48 AM

-Chris
Remember, if you're arguing on the internet, you've already lost.
YouTube | Twitter | Website

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Sunday, December 3, 2017 3:08 PM
Jeff's avatar

And I'll say again it doesn't matter if they did have the same caliber of job... the market favors the employer, especially for Disney theme parks. We all have choices to make, and if the field doesn't pay what they want, they should consider a different field. I've been there. I could have stayed working in broadcast, if I were content to make a third of what I do now, but I wasn't, so I don't.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Sunday, December 3, 2017 4:05 PM

I worked in radio just as automation and voicetracking was really coming around and I consider myself so fortunate to have had the chance to do what so many can't anymore. During college I worked weekends and fill in at a small cluster of stations in my college town, which was then Arbitron Market # 254. I made Pennsylvania minimum wage, which was $5.15 an hour at the time, to be on the air and play the hits when the rest of my college friends were out at the bars. It was without a doubt the most fun I have ever had in my entire life, as radio had been what I had wanted to do since I was old enough to know what a job was. I had two and a half years of bliss and got a little paycheck out of the deal. But I saw the full time staff squeaking away at $20k a year and saw what was happening in radio and made the decision to get out and not go through life with such little job security in exchange for pennies even though it was all I wanted to do at the time.

Same with my time at Disney, which I know I have talked about here before. I met some awesome people, did some really cool stuff, and it was the best "just out of college" job experience and first career my mid 20s self could have had. But as I approached 30 I realized the pay wasn't going to get me the lifestyle I wanted, the hours and expectations just didn't align with the work-life balance I envisioned for myself and I no longer had passion for doing what I was doing, I made a move and worked hard to achieve the personal goals I had set for myself. Peers that were on my team 5 years ago that were equally as unhappy and unfulfilled as I was are still in the same position they were then, and were actually puzzled whenever I left the company and found something that I was happier doing. They knew they weren't happy, but didn't think there was anything they could do about it. That is the train of thought I just don't understand.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017 8:38 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

I've said it before: the reason I keep returning to Coasterbuzz, for all these years is the caliber of conversation.

...random thoughts....

...people tend to rise the level of their competence. For some, such as either the current or just previous CEO of McDonald's, who started with the company flipping burgers and worked his way through the ranks.

...for others, it's a lower bar. Exhibit A, one of my current housemates. He couldn't find his own @$$ with both hands and a road map; he's, well, not trainable.

...I've worked in the same position for 20 years, selling tickets. I have a near genius level IQ, but I'm also autistic; I don't have the social skill sets to rise up into management. I don't like to look people in the eye and I lack empathy.

...I would disagree with Jeff about Disney vs IATSE, but I've been contaminated by my ex and one of my best friends, both of whom worked for Disney :-)

And both of whom left Disney and found more satisfying jobs.


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
-- Groucho Marx

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Sunday, December 3, 2017 10:34 PM
TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

Gonch you were right. The stat I was confused with was if wages had kept pace with productivity minimum wage would be 18/hr.

Regardless wages have not kept up with the cost of living despite decades of almost unprecedented profits. All the while employers tell their employees that if they don't like it they can voluntarily seek to offer their services to others but when employees voluntarily decide to package their labor together and sell it as a single product suddenly these free market worshippers are aghast.

Workers in America deserve a good wage, not just a passable wage. Even entry level workers. There should be no such thing as "the working poor" in the wealthiest country in history. The level of resistance to that idea I see in this country and specifically this forum is just saddening. No one is lessened by others having their just deserves.


The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017 11:01 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast said:

Workers in America deserve a good wage, not just a passable wage... No one is lessened by others having their just deserves.

Probably not popular with a certain segment, but...

I don't believe anyone deserves anything beyond what they're able to earn. I can't even begin to wrap my head around the idea that you deserve to be given anything for just being here...and if you do, who owes it to you?

Things have value. (and this also applies to the other weird coversation about expecting to be paid for skills, not for your value to the employer)

And if we somehow go goofy and decide that people deserve arbitrary things just for being here, then we go back to what GoBucks asked - who decides what the arbitrary value we all deserve is?

The stat I was confused with was if wages had kept pace with productivity minimum wage would be 18/hr.

This seems to (in an indirect way) imply efficiency is bad. We've continued to find ways to do more for less. That's progress. As things gets easier to do, doing it has less value.

It's really not any more difficult than being valuable to someone. Rather that's as an employee to an employer or as a business owner to a customer base or as a human to society or whatever the relationship - that's the key. Offer value. People pay for what they want and need and otherwise don't have or can't easily get.


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