Film production jobs have always been very demanding, with employees working long hours to get the projects done. For some higher-ups in production companies, those long hours come with decent paychecks. However, for those on the lower end of the scale, the paychecks don’t always seem to be sufficient for all the hours they put in. That is why many employees at major studios are working with local unions — they want to be protected and adequately paid for all the hard work they do and the responsibilities they have.
As many know, The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest production companies in the world. They are also known for being one of the most family-friendly companies around, mainly because of the animated classics they have become famous for. However, it seems that while the company may push the family-friendly look, they are not so Cast Member-friendly.
According to a local California animation union, Disney is fighting back against some of its employees wanting to join the union. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
Coming off of an aggressive run of production-specific organizing drives at shows (Rick and Morty, Family Guy) and studios (Nickelodeon, ShadowMachine), IATSE Local 839 revealed on Wednesday that the union is attempting to form a bargaining unit comprised of around 78 production coordinators, production supervisors and production managers at the Encanto and Wish studio. According to the union, the studio has denied its request to voluntarily recognize the group of workers, preferring a National Labor Relations Board Election, and is attempting to exclude production supervisors and production managers from the group that could participate in a vote, arguing that they work as managers.
“They are claiming that production managers and production supervisors are statutory supervisors under the National Labor Relations Act, meaning that they are excluded from the law that grants people the right to organize unions,” says TAG organizer Allison Smartt. The union’s position is that these workers are not statutory supervisors.
According to the union, they have been working with Disney’s employees on unionizing for just about a year. Disney’s fight against unionization comes as the company also prepares to lay off 7,000 Cast Members. While those layoffs will not come in the form of Cast Members who work at the Parks, they will affect those who work at the studio. We do not know how many of those layoffs will affect the Disney workers who are attempting to unionize.
This is not the only union issue Disney is having. Disney is currently struggling to negotiate with a local union representing Florida Cast Members who work at Walt Disney World Resort. The Cast Members want to raise starting wages and have those wages increase a certain amount each year. Disney, however, does not want to raise starting wages, which are currently $15 per hour. At the same time, Disney’s biggest competition — Universal Orlando Resort — has announced that all Team Members will receive a starting wage of $17 per hour.