Union survey says three-fourths of Disneyland workers can't afford basic living expenses

Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 10:09 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Only weeks after Walt Disney Co. reported better-than-expected profit, a survey at the company's Anaheim theme parks found that 73% of employees questioned don't earn enough to pay for such expenses as rent, food and gas. The online survey, funded by labor groups pushing for higher wages for workers at Disneyland and California Adventure Park, also said that 11% of resort employees have been homeless or have not had a place of their own in the last two years. Disney disputes the results of the survey.

Read more from The LA Times.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 12:11 PM
TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

I already had little interest in going to Disney but now my ass feels threatened.


The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 2:57 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

What has happened to Coasterbuzz?


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 4:56 PM
LostKause's avatar

I've been thinking about this a little lately, and my opinion is that if Disney can't afford to pay their employees a living wage, perhaps they should close down. It's just not a sustainable business anymore.

Of course, I'm not serious. Everyone knows that Disney CAN pay a living wage. They choose not to, probably for some of the reasons discussed here of why they shouldn't HAVE to.

Choosing not to pay a living wage because you don't have to fosters poor morale for your front-line employees. Poor morale is not easy to handle, especially when your employers tell you that it's your job to pretend that you are happy all day at "The Happiest Place on Earth."

Disney Cast Members are second-class citizens?


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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 5:03 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

But apparently there are enough people who are willing to make it "The Happiest Place on Earth" for a non-living wage. Morale obviously isn't so bad that it's affecting performance or people would be getting fired.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 5:16 PM

Being paid poorly sucks but there comes a point when you have to ask yourself why you stay? For my job the reason was simple. Schedule. I've never needed a babysitter or daycare for my kids and that was worth something to me. Fortunately I've moved myself into a position that pays more but not without some uncomfortable moments of testing who needs who more and in the end my employer finally realized that I might leave and they're short enough on just warm bodies to fill positions no less someone who knows what they are doing. Until Disney has trouble filling positions they won't raise wages and the employees need to ask themselves why they still work there and is it really worth it?

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 6:36 PM
Vater's avatar

LostKause said:

Choosing not to pay a living wage because you don't have to fosters poor morale for your front-line employees.

Or, from an alternative perspective: Choosing a job where you agreed to the pay rate and then expecting more because "the company can afford it" is the epitome of asshattery.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 6:41 PM
LostKause's avatar

Fair enough.


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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 6:42 PM
Jeff's avatar

Assuming that you believe there is an arbitrary minimum for what constitutes a "living wage," why do you think it's due for an entry level job that requires no skills? How many stories do we need to read with quotes like, "I hate the pay, but love the job?" Those people need to snap out of it. You know what made my wage "living" after college? A roommate, a crappy apartment and a cheap-ass car. Eventually, I went where the opportunity was and took it, even when some of those jobs were crappy.


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

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 8:46 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Nobody goes to Disney any more. The employees are too unhappy.

Said nobody. Ever.


Website | Flickr | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 8:50 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Geez, people. At least get it right. DisneyLAND is the happiest place on earth. Disney World is The Most MAGICAL.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Tuesday, March 6, 2018 9:58 PM

Our White Castle pays 11 bucks. So long hours of dealing with tourists for a pittance must hold some kind of magical power over those 70,000+ employees. It is a respectable place to work- nobody ever looks askance should you say you work there. And the opportunity is high, it’s an awfully big place.
I think working there would do well for a guy like me. Retired, and relatively healthy. So a part time job pushing buttons or greeting people would give me pin money and get me out of the house. But I sure as hell wouldn’t think I could raise and support a family on that.
Maybe I’ve said this before, but years ago I had a friend who quit her decent job at an insurance company to become a cast member. At the Disney Store. At the mall. But it was her dream.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 8:01 AM

Good old supply and demand.

Apparently, your White Castle doesn't have a line wrapped around the block of people who will

  • show up on time
  • work a full shift
  • not pull no shows twice a week
  • want to flip burgers

Heck, The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village have better results getting volunteers to show up regularly and dress in period costumes for eight hours a day than the fast food joints have at getting people to show up for work.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 9:18 AM

RCMAC said:

Maybe I’ve said this before, but years ago I had a friend who quit her decent job at an insurance company to become a cast member. At the Disney Store. At the mall. But it was her dream.

I met several folks like that during my time at WDW. Professionals in ages ranging from 30 to 60 who gave up very respectable and well paying careers all throughout the country to push buttons on a ride or man a turnstile for what was then 7 or 8 dollars and change an hour. They all did it to fulfill a lifelong dream.

To me, those jobs are best suited for the 18-25 year olds as a first job and/or an entry into an eventual professional career with Disney and retirees who, as you said, are looking to work a couple days a week to get out of the house and have some play money. I worked with several folks on both ends of that spectrum during my years. In fact, I learned more about life than I ever did from my parents or in a classroom from my years at Disney working with those people. My just graduated and figuring out the world early/mid 20s peers and many of the retirees taught me some of the good stuff on how to figure out life. And the folks who gave up everything to operate a turnstile and then bitch about how low the pay was taught me what not to do in life.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 11:13 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

It's all about what is important to the individual. I never thought I'd be working for Blue Man twenty years down the line, but they are an enormously accepting, trusting company. I generally roll my eyes at the idea of fellow employees being family, but at Blue Man, it's true. Recently, I've been suffering a number of physical and mental health issues, and they have been nothing but supportive.

Do I earn a large salary? No. Am I happy where I am? Yes.

I will agree that people who choose to remain in a job AND complain about the pay do not get a pass. They've made their bed, they have to lie in it.


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

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 1:09 PM

There are some people who work full time elsewhere, and pick up a few hours at Disney. They pay the bills off working elsewhere, then use their free time working at Disney. Although I guess they may be in the minority.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 6:10 PM

I firmly believe we should have a basic minimum income for all US citizens. Anyone siding with Disney on this should try living on that wage for a week. Just because it’s a low end job doesn’t mean employees shouldn’t be paid a living wage. Disney makes enough money to do the right thing, but they choose not to. That’s pretty sad to me.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 6:49 PM
Jeff's avatar

This isn't a moral issue, at least not the way that you're framing it. People. Make. Choices. I have limited empathy for Disney people when there are trades working all around the area starting at $20, and making far more if they're experienced. Builders are pinched because there aren't enough people to do the work.

Like I said, "the right thing" for Disney is to conserve cash so they're not screwed when there's a recession or some business segment starts to tank. No one laid-off as few people as Disney did in the area during the last recession. You don't have a strong long-term position by paying people more than the market demands.


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

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 6:51 PM
Dale K's avatar

Or go by my motto "life sucks, figure it out"

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 7:43 PM

Thinking only of shareholders is status quo. What about the stakeholders?

And it certainly is a moral issue. This is about people’s livelihoods. People should come before cash.

Last edited by etrainimac, Thursday, March 8, 2018 7:44 PM
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Thursday, March 8, 2018 7:55 PM

Then why work at all?

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