No new contract yet for unions and Walt Disney World

Posted Friday, December 3, 2010 12:21 PM | Contributed by Jeff

An all-day mediation session between Walt Disney World and its largest labor group ended Thursday with contract talks still in a stalemate. Critics say the contract doesn't lift wages enough to offset rising health-insurance premiums.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Friday, December 3, 2010 12:43 PM

These disputes always strike me as strange, perhaps because I continue to view most non-performing theme park jobs as work college kids do for beer money. That you always have people indicating that they can't make a "living wage" only causes me to think, well, perhaps you have the wrong job then.

Friday, December 3, 2010 12:58 PM

(Keep in mind I didn't read the article.)

This is Disney, though. These generally aren't seasonal jobs where kids just work the summer months then leave.

For better or for worse, when you build a destination this big even if it's "only" an amusement park, you're going to need a large pool of year-round adults... "professional" ride operators if you will, and you're not going to get that paying $7 with no benefits like other parks even though these people are doing the work of lazy, pathetic morons.

Last edited by kpjb, Friday, December 3, 2010 12:59 PM
Friday, December 3, 2010 2:41 PM

Do you have to keep using that line because you work at Adventureland? :)

Friday, December 3, 2010 3:45 PM

To be fair, those low paying jobs at Disney do come with benefits (for the FT cast members) though those benefits are not as good as they once were (typical in business these days).

And, I'm not sure I would equate working at Disney with working at McDonald's. I think there is a greater level of expectation with a Disney cast member and, as such, they should pay more than the kids working over at the outlet mall.

Friday, December 3, 2010 4:47 PM

On what basis are folks supposedly entitled to a "living wage" however you want to define it?

Friday, December 3, 2010 4:56 PM

On the basis of the rides not being able to run themselves. :)

edit: forgot smiley :) ;) :) :) :)

Last edited by kpjb, Friday, December 3, 2010 4:56 PM
Friday, December 3, 2010 5:08 PM

That is the basis for why Disney may want to pay a living wage not for why folks who work there may be entitled to one.

Friday, December 3, 2010 6:56 PM

If the theme park industry paid a living wage, I'd probably still be in Orlando working at Islands of Adventure.

Come to think of it, there are plenty of employers who don't want to pay a living wage to their hard-working employees. It's just not profitable to treat the people, who are making all the money for the company, fairly. And what are the little people going to do about it? They have to eat and pay bills.

It's just the way the world works, in a lot of cases.

Friday, December 3, 2010 9:51 PM

Please. I think it's totally fair. Lazy, pathetic morons aside, the market dictates that they can pay what they do. This is not highly skilled labor here. How many times a year do we have this discussion? Anyone with the basic aptitude to be nice to people and generally functional in society can do many of these jobs. That's hardly a strong training requirement.

Friday, December 3, 2010 9:57 PM

Nobody is holding a gun to their heads forcing them to work there. Same for the folks working at Wal-Mart. If you don't like the wage you are making, go try and get a better paying job. I can't understand this mentality that businesses must pay folks so they can live the workers opinion. As Jeff said, the market drives what pay these jobs pay. And the workers have all the right in the world to choose what job they want to shoot for.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 12:09 AM

I'm not saying people should be paid so they can live well, I am saying they need to paid enough to be able to live without having to ask the government to pay for their food and help pay for their utilities. That happens a lot in my poor county.

In my perfect fantasy world, if someone works full-time, they should be able to support himself (or herself) with the amount of money that they make, crappy minimum wage job or not. Plus, there are only so many highly skilled labor jobs available.

An extremely profitable and popular vacation destination, like Disney World, should take care of their employees, not take advantage of them.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 2:15 AM

Going out on a limb here...

Say every park decided to pay all their employees at least $15 an hour. When they turn around and charge $120 for a single day admission, who will be the first to complain?

LK, you know I love ya, but couldn't resist. ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010 2:31 AM

LostKause said:
An extremely profitable and popular vacation destination, like Disney World, should take care of their employees, not take advantage of them.

This is the single most ridiculous claim people can make about any company. You make it sound like Iger is sitting around smoking hundred dollar bills. You do remember all of the jobs that Disney has cut in the last year or two, right? The single biggest expense of any company is the head count. RGB might have been f'ing with you, but he's totally right... there's no way they're going to start paying out $15 an hour to ride ops without doubling the price of admission, food and everything else.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 9:40 AM

Yep, when the minimum wage went up, so did the $1 double cheeseburger. Just sayin!

And what is a comfortable living? A $200 monthly car payment? A $400 monthly car payment? A $500 monthly rent? A $1000 monthly mortgage? Its one thing to make a living. Its another to decide what to do with that living. This is something I've never understood about about the arguement of employers paying a living wage, because everyone's idea of a "comfortable living" is different.


Saturday, December 4, 2010 10:06 AM

I see your points, I really do, but I am of the supposedly unpopular opinion that there is an unbalance in wages.

I don't say businesses should raise prices. Couldn't they simply reduce the multi-million dollar bonuses, for example? They pay so little because they can get away with it, not because it would bankrupt their company.

There are a few business out there who feel the same way that I do. Costco comes to mind.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 10:35 AM

I pretty much agree with Travis. There's a huge difference between skilled and unskilled labor, and employers mostly have no incentive to treat the unskilled segment as anything other than a necessary burden to their bottom line. Anyone who is willing to go out and work deserves at least a living wage, although I know there are many who disagree with that opinion. As Travis said, companies don't have to offset these costs by passing along higher prices, but unfortunately none of them seem to eager to reach into the pool of excess profits or excessive bonuses to pay for it.

That being said, I still mostly disagree with unions (particularly the UAW), but clearly some are still needed in certain industries to prevent companies from paying workers so poorly they become a burden on society.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 11:38 AM

"Unbalance in wages?" What does that even mean? Guess what... doctors make more than sweeps at Disney World because they have harder jobs that require more skill. You keep looking for something you call fairness but what you're talking about is entitlement.

That sentiment is what has driven up the cost of domestic goods while keeping our workforce unskilled. Look at the auto industry... American car makers could not compete and workers had no incentive to pick up a more skilled trade. So the unions managed to get them up to $30+/hour for line jobs that require a few hours of training to do, because they're "entitled" to it.

You "deserve" the wage that the market will bear. You have a choice to take that or do something else that will earn you more. This nonsense about "excess profits" implies that it's immoral for a company to make money. (And I'd know, I work for the most profitable non-oil company in the world, and even it laid people off last year.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010 11:56 AM

There's nothing inherently immoral with making money. But making money while putting the screws to your employees is immoral. Just my opinion though.

The auto unions did get entirely out of hand, but I don't think anyone here is suggesting that a ride op at Disney should be making $30 an hour either.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 12:48 PM

Not $30 an hour no. But as it stands now, if a full-time Disney ride op who makes $7.35 an hour, takes home a little more than 12,000 after subtracting 20% for taxes. I've done it before, and no one can tell me that living on only about $1000 a month is easy. About half of that goes to rent alone, for people who don't own their own home.

($7.35 X 40 hours X 52 weeks - $15,288 - %20 for taxes = $12,230)

Most full-time hourly-wage jobs also don't make a full 40 hours available, and are more likely to give about 32-35 hours per week, so it's even less for those people.


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