For nearly two months, Disney and unions representing some of Walt Disney World Resort’s Cast Members have been going back and forth on raises for Cast Members. The unions represent a large majority of Disney World’s Food and Beverage Cast Members, as well as most of the Housekeeping Cast Members. At the beginning of February, Disney offered Cast Members a guaranteed $16 starting wage, with one-dollar-per-hour raise every year, until starting wages reached $20 per hour. The unions voted down the offer and told Disney they wanted wages to start at $18 per hour, with retroactive back pay.
Things quickly devolved, with the unions stating that Disney refused to budge on its offer of $16 per hour with a $1 per hour yearly raise. According to the living wage calculator, a single person with no children needs to make $18.85 per hour to afford to live in Orlando. Based on that, Disney’s offer is well below what Cast Members need to be able to pay for rent, food, and bills.
Last week, Disney World Cast Members stood outside The Most Magical Place on Earth and rallied for the raise that they feel they have earned and deserved. On March 22, Disney and the unions sat back down at the table.
Now, we can report that the unions representing Cast Members have been successful in their fight for higher wages. According to a report from The Orlando Sentinel, Disney has agreed to up its starting wages from $15 per hour to $18 per hour.
The six unions in the Service Trades Council Union coalition announced Thursday they supported a proposed contract with Disney that would increase hourly pay for full-time workers by $5.50 over the next five years. Disney and the unions had been negotiating a new contract since Aug. 24, with wage increases forming a major sticking point. The unions represent about 45,000 of Disney World’s staff.
Unite Here Local 362 President Eric Clinton said the deal gives Disney’s full-time employees a $2 hourly raise upon ratification, $1 of which is retroactive to October. Workers will reach $18 an hour with another $1 pay bump in December under the agreement.
The deal is expected to be ratified next week, Clinton said.
Not long after the agreement was announced, Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle released the following statement:
Our Cast Members are central to Walt Disney World’s enduring magic, which is why we are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement. Disney is proud to offer an industry-leading employment package that includes comprehensive benefits and affordable medical coverage, in addition to 100 percent paid tuition for higher education for hourly employees through the Disney Aspire program. With the support of the unions, we anticipate Cast Members will approve this new agreement.
NEW: Jeff Vahle, President of Walt Disney World Resort, just issued a statement on the tentative agreement:
“Our Cast Members are central to Walt Disney World’s enduring magic, which is why we are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement." pic.twitter.com/AVJumW9OtT
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) March 23, 2023
Raising starting wages from $15 to $18 per hour will make Disney the highest-paying tourism employer in Orlando. In February — when raise negotiations between Disney and the unions were struggling to move forward — Disney’s biggest competitor, Universal Orlando Resort, announced that they were raising starting wages to $17 per hour.