Disney World’s Hand in Legislation: Florida Law Targets Cast Members’ Rights

walt disney statue, cinderella castle in the background
Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

Florida can get hot. As global warming worsens, Florida will experience even more extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes and drastic heat and humidity.

However, during this legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed a law stripping workers of protection from extreme heat, including mandatory water breaks and other basic protections from the Florida heat.

Disney monorail at EPCOT

[Credit: Unsplash – Heather Maguire]

House Bill 433 prohibits local governments from passing legislation that protects workers from extreme heat and laws requiring companies to raise the minimum wage beyond the state’s current $12 an hour. But now, we’re learning more about how this bill was passed and the role that Disney World played in helping to remove basic protections from outdoor workers, including cast members.

According to Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida donated more than $2 million to mostly Republican legislatures and another $1 million to the Florida Republican Party. The two lobbying groups expected House Bill 433 to become law for those donations.

This leads to two questions: why was this law necessary, and how did the Walt Disney Company contribute to its passing?

Local government officials in South Florida were considering passing heat protections after the death of migrant farm workers of heat stroke. These laws would have prohibited work in extreme Florida heat and mandatory water breaks for workers.

The possibility of these laws stopping work became dangerous to businesses in Florida, which would have had to shut down in extreme heat. Thus, donations to politicians were made to get this bill passed.

And this is where Walt Disney World comes in. Disney is a prominent member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, donating millions to the organization and having Disney World employees on its Board of Directors.

Cast member leads tour at Disneyland

Credit: Disney

This law would have affected cast members and Disney contractors who work in the extreme heat in Florida. Jobs around the Walt Disney World Resort would have had to shut down during the warmer summer months, taking significantly longer to complete.

The law was wildly unpopular, with hundreds of civic groups opposing it. That outrage nearly killed the bill. However, according to Garcia, with just one day left in the legislative session, lobbyists sent texts to lawmakers to ensure the bill’s passage.

The bill passed on the last day of the session. Just last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law. Unlike other bills, DeSantis did not have a big ceremony; instead, signing it late at night.

A Disney Cast Member covers his face while being filmed.

Credit: @idreamofdisney21

The Florida Chamber of Commerce celebrated the passage, saying it “led the fight for the preemption of inconsistent and dangerous workplace safety standards.” Chamber CEO Mark Wilson noted Florida is now “the national model for economic growth, quality of life, and competitiveness.”

So, despite the outrage, Florida workers, including Walt Disney World cast members, are without heat protection in one of the hottest states in America. If you are a worker in Florida, you must take care of yourself or face the consequences.

What do you think of Florida workers losing heat protection? 

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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