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.

Monday, December 4, 2017 8:44 AM

There are other factors involved such as the rampant abuses of the H1B visa program as well as illegal immigration. Both artificially driving down labor costs. Of course most folks complain about the prior because it relates to the high/highly skilled labor force; whereas they cite cost of goods as a driving force to allow cheap labor in the agriculture sector, as well as the hospitality sector.

+0
Monday, December 4, 2017 9:25 AM
Jeff's avatar

Just because the H1-B program is abused sometimes doesn't mean it's bad, and illegal immigration isn't the scapegoat you're looking for either. My line of work would be screwed without H1-B, and immigrants are taking the jobs corn-fed Midwestern white boys don't want.

BrettV: My story is similar. I was in a "major market" (I think Cleveland was 20-something at the time) right out of college, and I had momentum, trajectory and a network. But I looked at people 10, 20 years older than me, doing appearance gigs, and thinking, that's sad. I was doing overnights, and got bumped down to weekend part-time when they had to hide a guy with crappy numbers and a contract, and I bailed. A few months later, after a retail thing, I landed in a government TV job, where I stayed for three years before I saw the same income pattern (with job security, but still). I've been in software ever since.

I tend to be very left leaning, though you probably wouldn't know it when it comes to this subject. The working poor is definitely a thing, definitely a problem, and I get that. But to get back to Gonch's point, there is different value in different kinds of work. The expectation seems to adjust minimum wage or achieve higher wages through unions with no regard to what the market demands. I don't like this "the company can afford it" argument, because what the company can afford, it can't afford tomorrow. Disney in particular was a little more resilient in the recession because they were careful in this sense. The auto industry, by comparison, with $50k salaries to do low skill work, was brutally pushed to the brink of extinction.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+1Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 10:12 AM

It was standard thought around here that a line worker doing low skill work was owed a cabin and land up north on a lake, a boat, and jet skis, 4 wheelers, and snowmobiles for the family. That doesn't come on $50k. With the overtime folks were collecting, $70k was probably more typical annual pay.

A traffic jam on M-14 could mean a just-in-time truck of supplies wasn't going to make it to the plant on time, so the crew would get paid for the full shift, sometimes playing cards issued to them each month as part of their union agreement. Once the truck arrived, then they got the overtime to do the work. Back when I roomed with some auto workers, it happened far to frequently.

My wife used to be part of Ford's 89-day program. I don't know if they still do it, but back in the 90's it was a little arrangement between the union and company to employee relatives of union members working in Dearborn for 89 days at a time, allowing them to accrue seniority for when permanent jobs opened up. When I got my first programming job, she made more than me to babysit a spare parts crib to make sure employees didn't steal nuts and bolts. If they needed her for a weekend, she made more on Saturday and Sunday than I made the entire week. Over those 16 hours, she would typically hand out less than 5 items.

The topic brings me back to Hale County, Alabama. TL;DR version, a quarter of the county is on disability because the factories closed up and the residents aren't considered fit or educated enough for anything other than low skill jobs. In effect, we've already started this system of paying people to exist, and as a political bonus, they aren't listed in the unemployment figures.

+0
Monday, December 4, 2017 12:14 PM
Jeff's avatar

And ironically, they likely vote Republican at the federal level, and not because they're looking out for them socially or financially.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+3Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 3:31 PM

The H1B program was established for industries lacking qualified individuals, now its become a back Door way to reduce pay. California Edison did it when they replaced 400 workers with a smaller group of outsourced H1B visas, Disney tried the same tactic in 2014. In both instances; the employees being replaced were expected to train their replacements.

First, the qualified individuals were already on the job, Secondly; if their replacements were indeed qualified, they wouldn’t need training by by people they were replacing.

As far as illegal immigration goes, when you artificially inflate the population (and therefore the potential workforce); you drive wages down. The supply of work candidates skews up, while the job supply remains stagnant.

+1Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 4:00 PM
Jeff's avatar

The arguments against H1-B are anecdotes of abuse. The right action is to outlaw the abuse. It's also worth noting that much of what Disney did was offshore the work, not hire H1-B's. I can give you countless examples of H1-B's I've worked with in software and how difficult it is to hire anyone. The struggle is real.

Your immigration theory is not correct. It's a scapegoat. Where blue collar job supply has dried up, other factors were at play, and most of those factors are robots and other technology. Others include poor high school graduation rates. The only people "hurt" by small percentage of illegals might be teenagers, and even that is suspect because teens don't work full-time. But it does relate specifically to the Disney situation, where the supply of workers is high because, for reasons I'll never understand, more people want to work for Disney than Disney has positions. At the end of the day, that's why Disney doesn't have to pay a premium on labor.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+1Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 6:12 PM

Jeff said:
and immigrants are taking the jobs corn-fed Midwestern white boys don't want.

What do you base this claim off? Looking at unemployment rates; the Midwest is anything but unwilling to work.

+0
Monday, December 4, 2017 6:40 PM
Jeff's avatar

https://www.aclu.org/other/immigrants-and-economy

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/08/24/do-immigran...n-workers/

https://www.npr.org/2017/09/06/548882071/fact-check-are-daca-recipi...-americans

As most of the articles on the subject point out, there is no fixed number of jobs in the United States. This is crucial to my bigger argument on the subject: The sooner we stop being a bunch of entitled crybabies and lead in every industry by innovation and building better products, the sooner we can be the economic super power we want to be. We've done this with Internet related business, and fallen behind in virtually everything else. Look at energy... public policy and lobbyists have been so intent on protecting the incumbent fossil fuel businesses that we're already losing to China on renewables. We lost it on automobiles decades ago at this point. We're going to lose pharmaceuticals to Europe and Canada if we don't adapt patent law.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+2Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 7:59 PM
TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

I'm gonna steer this conversation back toward union negotiation after a couple comments.

1: The complaining about the attitude that companies "can afford it" is purely philosophical. There's no real argument that they can't. The car companies somehow managed to make profits for decades despite paying higher than market value for their labor. If they need flexibility to be able to reduce or delay wage increases during harsh downturns then they can negotiate for that.

2: In a world with increasing automation it's even more important that we become okay with the idea that people will eventually be paid for less contributing. When the inventions of one person can put thousands out of work the companies profiting from these job cuts and productivity increases have increased responsibility to the broader society. I for one think that a basic income is an inevitable eventuality.

But back to the original topic. Disney, being a company that relies heavily on its human assets and their ability to create immersive joyful experiences, is in a position where their workforce cannot be easily replaced quickly. I feel this gives the Disney employees a greater bargaining chip and I say more power to them for using it to negotiate their contact. People rarely view unions fairly in the sense that a union is just trying to sell labor as a product. It's a completely legitimate free market strategy and I'll never understand why it's not viewed that way. Yes, some unions are peddling ****ty products, but hell...there are companies out there selling slap chops and nobody gripes about them.


The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

+1Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 9:01 PM
Jeff's avatar

Regarding your second point, this reminds me a little of the immigration argument. Can anyone prove that the population vs. job ratio has changed significantly? Are there fewer jobs or different jobs with the shifts in technology? The way the service industry has grown, I'm inclined to believe it's the latter, but I'd be happy to see any relevant research on it.

The unions aren't engaging in a free market strategy. When you can leverage your numbers to demand a higher wage when there is not a labor supply problem, or protect mediocre workers from getting fired, or worse, equate seniority with preference for promotion (the worst sin to me, because occupying space does not increase your value), that's not letting the market decide anything.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+1Loading
Monday, December 4, 2017 10:45 PM

That's exactly what I thought. Disney is the one engaging in free market behavior, not the union.

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast said:

The car companies somehow managed to make profits for decades despite paying higher than market value for their labor.

That point rings pretty hollow when you consider that (most of) the domestic car companies needed massive government bailouts to survive.


+1Loading
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 12:18 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast said:

2: In a world with increasing automation it's even more important that we become okay with the idea that people will eventually be paid for less contributing. When the inventions of one person can put thousands out of work the companies profiting from these job cuts and productivity increases have increased responsibility to the broader society. I for one think that a basic income is an inevitable eventuality.

Still feels like a pretty defeatist attitude to me. If anything it's time to really step up, lead the way, show some grit, innovate and find new ways to be valuable.


+2Loading
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 12:41 AM

The car companies somehow managed to make profits for decades despite paying higher than market value for their labor.

This lasted for a generation and a half. At best. And a good part of that was during a period prior to a competitive global economy. Much harder to do with global competition. As evidenced by the bankruptcy of 2 of the domestic three.

+0
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 11:56 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

Jeff said:
The unions aren't engaging in a free market strategy. When you can leverage your numbers to demand a higher wage when there is not a labor supply problem, or protect mediocre workers from getting fired, or worse, equate seniority with preference for promotion (the worst sin to me, because occupying space does not increase your value), that's not letting the market decide anything.

A ) Despite being a flaming liberal, I agree that unions have, over the years, become more about protecting the interests of their members than proactively leading their members through societal and economic changes. (For the record, we have unions to thank for 40 hour work weeks and children not working in factories.)

B ) That said, corporations, like unions, are protecting the interests of the folks who give them money. I'd say it is the free market at work; both sides, protecting their interests, come to common ground.

C ) Sheesh. It's time to go watch Food Network.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

+1Loading
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 4:43 PM

Rather than submit this as news, I thought I'd just add it to this discussion. Scott Maxwell had this in the Sentinel today:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-disney-world-unions-wages...story.html

+0
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 7:28 PM
Jeff's avatar

The average job in manufacturing pays $26.77 an hour. “Information” jobs pay $38.45. Construction pays $29.06.

Yes, and those jobs require completely different skills that are worth more. I don't think the problem in the area is that the theme parks pay too little, it's that the jobs constitute too large a portion of the total workforce. Vegas is in the same boat. No one complains about the pay at a local McDonald's in Cleveland because it's considered work for teens, seniors and other people looking for a little extra part-time cash.

Nothing will change, and it's not because of unions or Disney. It's because people are willing to work for the mouse to say they work for the mouse. I live in the Horizon West area west and north of Disney, where dozens of new houses are completed every day. If you wanted to get into construction, there are opportunities, and the pay is far higher. You won't get a name tag or "cast member" bumper stickers, but I can assure you that you'll make more money.

What they found was that the average family of four needs $53,856 simply to “survive.”

I'm super suspect of this number. Randomly taking May as an example, Mint says I spent $4,200. Let's take out my absurd midlife crisis car payment, which gets us to $3,400. Take out another $280 from frivolously eating out (I have a Pei Wei problem). I'm leaving in an Xbox Live sub, $100 in medical co-pays and a couple of Amazon Video movies. That leaves me at $3,120 on the mortgage, the other car, utilities, groceries, a haircut, $80 in cash (?) and whatever I spent $50 on at Lowe's. Times 12 months, that would be about $37,500 a year for two adults and a 7-year-old. Adjusting for taxes (assuming 20% in deductions), this is probably a salary of around $46,800 (or $22.50 for one worker, $11.25 for two). I don't think that's "surviving" in Orange County, that's doing OK without even applying any real discipline. What is the expectation for "survival?"


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+1Loading
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 8:05 PM

I think the expectation is: more.

+2Loading
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 10:15 PM
TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

Slither pretty much said it. Unions have some baggage they need to unpack but at the end of the day you can apply the same arguments and accusations of cronyism/greed/laziness to the party on the other side of the table.

The fact that so many of you on this board are willing to focus in on those faults in the working class side of the negotiation but aren't willing to focus in on the same behavior from the corporate side (for which the only effective counter has always been unions) shows real disconnection.

Workers have the right to fight for fair valuations of their labor. It's the only remaining check on corporate power. Without it we'll continue our slide toward wage slavery.


The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

+3Loading
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 11:32 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

I have a Pei Wei problem

*snicker*


+1Loading
Thursday, December 7, 2017 8:53 AM
Jeff's avatar

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast said:

The fact that so many of you on this board are willing to focus in on those faults in the working class side of the negotiation but aren't willing to focus in on the same behavior from the corporate side (for which the only effective counter has always been unions) shows real disconnection.

Disconnection from what? Does the "corporate side" attempt to inflate wages beyond what the market will allow? Because that's the behavior I'm criticizing.

Workers have the right to fight for fair valuations of their labor.

And again, when they're low skill jobs, isn't it "fair" that they not pay what more skilled jobs demand? That seems like the disconnect to me. And that's before I even get down to budgeting (see above).

Lord Gonchar said:
*snicker*

Never underestimate the power of Asian fusion.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+1Loading

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2021, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...