Disney unions seek "historic change" in wages at WDW

Posted Thursday, July 27, 2017 9:08 AM | Contributed by Jeff

With the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years in Florida, Disney World’s largest council of unions said Wednesday it will seek “historic change” in wages for the region’s hospitality workers. Disney has stated it will offer an employment package that is “fair and equitable” this year, but has withheld further comment.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Thursday, July 27, 2017 9:15 AM

The quote that the "cost of living is high" here is absolutely not true. This is the least expensive place I've ever lived, and there's no state or local income taxes.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 10:08 AM

Agreed. The only thing that has risen substantially in the last 6-7 years is apartment rent, but it is still significantly lower than many other places that are, to me, less desirable to live. I split a very nice two bedroom two story townhouse in a nice section of town that is 20 minutes from either theme park and 25 minutes for me to get downtown, and including utilities and a decent cable package I pay $650 a month.

I learned a few years ago that if you are spending $1,100-$1,300 a month on a one bedroom apartment (which yes, many go for here) you are doing it wrong.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 10:35 AM

I'm building another McMansion, and even while heavily upgraded, cost per square foot is only $114. That's only slightly above what I sold my house for in the Cleveland suburbs, and it's less than half the cost of even "affordable" options in the Seattle area. There are quite a bit of sub-$1k apartment communities around town: https://www.407apartments.com/

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 11:24 AM

I go back to the article from last week about the guy living in the hotel and making $13.02 an hour. I was making 8-something an hour in 2009 driving Kilimanjaro Safaris and was still able to make rent, utilities, and a car payment. Some months were tight, but not so tight that I was ever in danger of losing any of those things.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 11:54 AM

$114/sq. ft. is still incredibly low. I've heard quotes of $150+/sq. ft. in the Dallas area where I live and this area is still considered to be pretty affordable.

The only way they're going to get "historic change" in wages if people quit snorting pixie dust.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 1:17 PM

If you're making $13 an hour, after federal taxes, mandated health insurance, food, rent, utilities, and transportation, sales tax, car insurance, I'm sure cost of living doesnt leave much left over for a lot of Disney people.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 1:17 PM

Jeff said:

There are quite a bit of sub-$1k apartment communities around town: https://www.407apartments.com/

Out of sheer curiosity (and because I'm unmotivated at work today) I farted around on this site for a bit. In the $900-$1000/month range there are some really sweet places to rent, some in gated communities with community centers, pools, entertainment and other cool amenities.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 1:33 PM

bigboy said:

$114/sq. ft. is still incredibly low. I've heard quotes of $150+/sq. ft. in the Dallas area where I live and this area is still considered to be pretty affordable.

That's nothing. Where I lived outside of Seattle, houses were at best $250/sq. ft. In Seattle proper, you'll easily go over $400. And of course, the bay area around San Francisco stopped being rational decades ago.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:21 PM

I moved to San Jose about a year ago and it is absurd. I think we paid over $500/sqft. having just sold in Fort Worth, TX for right around $100. I don't even know what to do with the housing market out here, because everyone who owns is so heavily invested in it, that any move to make housing affordable is immediately opposed by everyone homeowner in the entire city. If Google builds the rumored plant in downtown, that's another 20K people, many of whom will be making multiple 6 figure salaries and many of whom will be making minimum wage injected into the housing market.

Edit: I literally just helped a guy who came to my office buy some groceries for his family. He owns a $1.1M home, but none of it is liquid.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Thursday, July 27, 2017 8:35 PM
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Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:27 PM

All this discussion about $/sq.ft. prompted me to look up stuff in my area(s). These are all current Zillow estimates, so take that for what it's worth (I've found it to be fairly accurate when looking at my previous residences). Every residence prior to my current one has been in the Northern VA area (all within 30 minutes of DC), and current estimates on all of those houses (in order of when I lived there, most recent first): $204, $452, $200. $477, $253, and $317/sq.ft.

By comparison, my current house in WV is a little more than an hour from DC, sits on more acreage and has more square footage than any of my prior residences, and is the only one estimated at less than $200/sq.ft. (by far): $108/sq.ft. It's little wonder why WV's Eastern panhandle is booming now with an influx of people from the DMV area.

Last edited by Vater, Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:32 PM
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Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:31 PM

Jeff said:

and there's no state or local income taxes.

Of course, income taxes only matter if you have a substantial income...which these folks do not have.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017 7:04 PM

I just read anothet article that interviews some of the union guy. At the end of the day, I'm not sure what they think a ride operator should be paid. The kids at seasonal parks don't make anywhere close to what this guy and these full timers at Disney make.

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Friday, July 28, 2017 5:24 PM

I know I will catch some flames for this, but this is a typical of a unionized workforce. Even when paid above industry standard, it won't be enough, they will always ask for more benefits/pay. The union always pushes for more, and they have to because they too are a business. How can you recruit members if you do not produce results.

Anyway, cost of living is relative. The cost of living in Orlando is high, when compared to Idaho, or Montana. However the cost of living is a bargain when compared to NYC or even Miami for that matter.

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Friday, July 28, 2017 5:39 PM

I don't think you're off-base at all. The union's job is to protect and get more for the employee. And I don't fault the employees for wanting more. Who doesn't want more for their work? Where it veers off course for me is when it turns into a moral blame game where Disney is painted as being greedy when they pay the market rate.

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Friday, July 28, 2017 11:35 PM

TheMillenniumRider said:
The cost of living in Orlando is high, when compared to Idaho, or Montana.

Except it's not. The Bozeman/Butte/Billings mini-metros in MT have a higher cost of living. It's a little lower in Boise, ID, but, it's Boise. What are you gonna do there?

Orange County is cheap.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017 9:46 AM

A union is not a business. It is wholly owned by the membership, has no shareholders, and has no incentive to maximize profit for the union itself, only its members.

Yes, the union leadership has incentive to maximize their earnings but they do that by doing their job, which is getting a good contact for the membership. A union exists to better the members standard of living. A business exists to earn profit..

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Saturday, July 29, 2017 1:29 PM

BrettV said:
I go back to the article from last week about the guy living in the hotel and making $13.02 an hour. I was making 8-something an hour in 2009 driving Kilimanjaro Safaris and was still able to make rent, utilities, and a car payment. Some months were tight, but not so tight that I was ever in danger of losing any of those things.

However back in 2009 was during the Great Recession and Apartment Prices were much cheaper than they are today. $500-600 a month Apartments were common then now you will be lucky to get one for $900 a month. I am sure those wages are not 50-80% higher either if you would be working the same job today. Cost of living has gone up quite a bit from 2009.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017 4:41 PM

Unions are very much a business. Having supported a few for back-office functions in the past, they are as shady and ruthless as any business one might think of. Several of them are only interested in increasing their salary while not really doing much for members. General Holiefield is just one that got caught, well 2 years after his death.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017 5:42 PM

I don't have any personal experience, but that seems like a very broad generalization from anecdotal evidence.

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