Walt Disney World workers prepare to negotiate for better wages, benefits

Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014 8:45 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Roughly 37,000 unionized employees at Walt Disney World are preparing to negotiate for higher wages, more affordable benefits and improvements to pension plans as their union contract expires at the end of March.

Read more from CNN.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 8:49 AM

There are so many things wrong with this:

"I love my job, but I have been working here for 20 years, and making $13.45 after that long doesn't sound like much," said Sherry Shulz, 65, who trains new hires. She said more money would ease her concerns over paying for health care and gas for her 40-mile commute to work.

So she commutes 40 miles each way, and has stuck with a job with wages that weren't high enough, and were never going to be better, why? It seems to me that people like this are exactly the reason they have no leverage at all.

Anecdotal side bar, the unions clearly create other problems, too. I was talking to a bartender whose husband is a mechanic at WDW. He won't get promoted because he doesn't have seniority, though he's the better mechanic and can do more. I can't think of anything more broken than that.

+1Loading
Thursday, February 13, 2014 3:43 AM

While the system absolutely isn't perfect, there's nothing wrong with giving the average employee an the tools/means to make sure they're paid appropriately to their relative worth at a company.

+1Loading
Thursday, February 13, 2014 4:35 AM

On the one hand, I agree with Jeff. On the other, I think I don't know enough about her to have an opinion about her -- yes, she's worked there for 20 years, but she was 45 when she started, so she either had had another 'career' or she entered the workforce late.

+0
Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:56 AM

CP Chris said:

While the system absolutely isn't perfect, there's nothing wrong with giving the average employee an the tools/means to make sure they're paid appropriately to their relative worth at a company.

If they're "average," it seems to me their worth isn't that high. If people are dying to work at Disney, and there's no shortage of people who want to do it, the workforce supply is far higher than the demand. That works in the company's advantage. And as I said, if people are promoted based on tenure instead of performance, well, you have Cedar Fair circa 2009.

+0
Monday, February 17, 2014 4:35 AM

Being "average" or not has nothing to do with it. It's about protecting the "expendable" workers from the race to the bottom mentality they're often met with. While there's nothing wrong with an honest day's work, there's also nothing wrong with expecting employers to pay an honest wage for that work.

I'm not arguing about the tenure based promotions thing, although I certainly think tenure should factor in to at least some small degree. The opposite extreme is favoritism/nepotism based promotions, which I think we can all agree is equally as bad.

+0
Monday, February 17, 2014 8:54 AM

Being average has everything to do with it in a market that favors the supply side of the workforce. If there are people willing to smile and take crap from tourists saying "have a magical day" to everyone they see, and do it for crappy wages, then that's who you want. The highest output for the least money. There's no room for average. An "honest" wage is whatever the market will allow. Most of these jobs are not skilled labor.

And tenure based promotion is favoritism, with no bearing on performance.

+2Loading
Monday, February 17, 2014 7:41 PM

Jeff said:

I was talking to a bartender whose husband is a mechanic at WDW.

The Lemon Chill guy said something similar.

+0
Monday, February 17, 2014 8:55 PM

Just because it's an anecdote doesn't make it any less true, not does it have anything to do with the argument that it's a buyer's market for this kind of labor.

+0
Monday, February 17, 2014 9:00 PM

So aside from the Lemon Chill Bartender, do you have any evidence where union seniority has an impact on promotions at WDW

+0
Monday, February 17, 2014 9:40 PM

Re: Jeff

In theory I totally agree with you, but how do you prevent the situation where the worker side of the labor market cannibalizes itself pushing wages ever lower for the same work?

Or is that completely acceptable?

+2Loading
Monday, February 17, 2014 10:07 PM

Growing up in jersey, unions were a part of life. So were (relatively) high wages. Even for non-union jobs. Because that's how the market works.

Labor and Capital. Some provide work, others provide the money for land, buildings, machines, raw materials....and labor. Of late (35 years and counting), it has been the dominant narrative that investors invest when taxation rates on their earnings are low. Warren Buffett, for one, disagrees. He says that investors invest when they can make more money by doing so than by holding on to their wealth and earning nothing. I agree with him...and with my finance instructors. ("

Capital is, by its very nature very organized. If labor doesn't bargain collectively, wages will be driven down - because it isn't a small business vs. an individual employee any longer. It is now a few megacorporations doing business on a global scale searching for lower wages and higher return on investment for their shareholders. Having higher wages in America will keep more money here, and through multiplier effects will grow our economy. Higher wages, for union members and nonmembers, increases by balancing out the bargaining power of ever-larger "consumers of labor" with having suppliers of labor (workers) organize collectively. Sucks about the VW plant...both the company and the German workers supported the union effort.

edited to add: For a union to work WELL, there does need to be strict oversight of union leadership. We have a pretty long documented history of corruption among union leadership. And the unions need to accept and even encourage steps to reward performance and even innovation over duration. The time for long tenures is something that's yesterday's news. Got almost 20 years in myself, LOL...do as I say, etc....*wink*

Last edited by rollergator, Monday, February 17, 2014 10:11 PM
+2Loading
Monday, February 17, 2014 11:27 PM

CPJ said:

So aside from the Lemon Chill Bartender, do you have any evidence where union seniority has an impact on promotions at WDW

I see you're trying to make a point, but this isn't a phenomenon limited to WDW. Do you know any teachers? Ask them how it goes there.

ApolloAndy said:

...how do you prevent the situation where the worker side of the labor market cannibalizes itself pushing wages ever lower for the same work?

Or is that completely acceptable?

That seems like kind of a loaded question. I'm not convinced any wages for any work in the US are pushing lower. My crappy college jobs paid $4.25 in 1998, which is $6.14 in today's dollars, accounting for inflation. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. You can't view the "same work" out of context for what the work actually is.

WDW is a special case for the reason I said in the first post. People really want to work there, apparently even driving 40 miles each way, so they can spread the pixie dust. My feeling is that no one must work there. It's a choice they make. Cast members work hard, absolutely, but I sure wouldn't describe it as skilled labor.

I happen to work in a profession that has the opposite problem, where there aren't enough qualified people to do the work, to the extent that companies of all sizes will sponsor an H1-B at great expense. Why don't more people train to do the work? I honestly don't know. It's very much a trade in my view. Heck, if I could figure out a way to make a living at training people, I would, because the impact on the economy would be important.

The point is that we all make choices, and there comes a point where I can no longer buy into the idea that the workforce is being victimized by evil corporations. I'm all for a single-payer health care system, gay marriage and higher taxes on the rich, but I won't likely be swayed into thinking that everyone making minimum wage is a victim. I started there too, making a crappy salary of $15k my first year out of school. I changed professions after four years for a new career.

+1Loading
Monday, February 17, 2014 11:41 PM

Jeff said:

The point is that we all make choices, and there comes a point where I can no longer buy into the idea that the workforce is being victimized by evil corporations.

What!?

You mean we have to be responsible for the choices we make?

Pffft!

+0
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 3:40 AM

Jeff said:

I happen to work in a profession that has the opposite problem, where there aren't enough qualified people to do the work, to the extent that companies of all sizes will sponsor an H1-B at great expense. Why don't more people train to do the work? I honestly don't know. It's very much a trade in my view.

While I'm highly skeptical, I don't dispute there may be some legitimate need for the H-1B visas in specialized sectors. However, they're mostly just another tool being exploited in the "race to the bottom" I keep talking about. This NPR article sums it up nicely.

You bring in some cheap labor from India to learn the jobs here in the US for a year or two, then ship that labor and all the jobs back to India, where they can pay significantly less for it. It's not that programmers coming out of US colleges are completely inept for the jobs, it's that those jobs will always be cheaper in the long run to send to some third world economy. The fact that a company has to claim an inability to find skilled American workers before they can apply for an H-1B certainly gives them plenty of reason to falsely bemoan the abilities of American workers.

+0
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 8:45 AM

Bringing people in from India is not "cheap labor." The article you linked to specifically calls out Microsoft, where I worked, with people there on H-1B's. Guess what... they made the same amount I did, and the company additionally had to deal with the legal expense of establishing the visa. Furthermore, every one of those guys I worked with were moving toward citizenship. Do you really think even Microsoft would be moving people in from around the world (and me from across the country) if it could find people locally to do the job? Those people don't exist. I can't even hire those people here in Central Florida, because they aren't here. It was even worse when I lived in Cleveland (in part because most of the good people moved out west). One company was so desperate last year that they paid me $100/hr. for short-term contract work. I can't think of a better example of supply and demand than that. The unemployment rate for even barely capable software people in most metros is near 0%.

This isn't some anecdote, it's the world I've been living in for years. Even if the company can afford to wave tons of cash in front of suitable candidates, it's ridiculously hard to land them.

This notion that there is no opportunity in this country completely baffles me.

+1Loading
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:38 AM

Jeff said:

This notion that there is no opportunity in this country completely baffles me.

I just wanted to quote this because you're slowly making me fall in love all over again. :)

+0
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:55 AM

So, how about those coaster polls?

Last edited by Bakeman31092, Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:55 AM
+0
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 9:52 PM

Jeff said:

CPJ said:

So aside from the Lemon Chill Bartender, do you have any evidence where union seniority has an impact on promotions at WDW

I see you're trying to make a point, but this isn't a phenomenon limited to WDW. Do you know any teachers? Ask them how it goes there.

So you have no evidence. You quote a bartender about their spouse who is a mechanic which would be considered skilled labor.

+0
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:39 PM

Jesus Christ, I said it was an anecdote. Would you like me to conduct a survey? It's one instance related to likely dozens of reasons that unions often (but not always) interfere with natural market forces to the extent that they ultimately act as a destructive force to the very constituency they serve. Disney mechanics unions didn't invent tenure over output. Even local grocery store managers deal with that nonsense.

+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2018, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...