Disney cast members employed at both Disneyland and Disney World, including members represented by Local 385 in Orlando, attended the Walt Disney Company shareholders meeting in Houston on Thursday to protest the poverty-level wages they receive.
According to Disney’s own proxy statement, the ratio of CEO compensation to the median Disney worker is 367 to 1.
Disney’s top five named executive officers received combined compensation of more than $224.5 million over the past three years while thousands of Disney cast members who help make the Parks and Resorts business segment the company’s most profitable are struggling just to survive.
A recent survey of Disneyland employees showed that 73% face economic hardship because they are not paid a living wage. Roughly 60% percent of the cast members are paid less than $12 per hour, and 8,000 are paid only $10 an hour.
Unfortunately, Disney Chairman Bob Iger shut down the meeting soon after showing upcoming movie previews and a presentation of new plans for the theme parks, denying time for important questions from cast members of U.S. theme parks.
“It is high time that the company acknowledge the Disney Parks’ workers sacrifices and contributions to our company,” said Joe Fittipaldi, a 33-year bus driver and Local 385 member. “In so many ways we are the face of Disney. We will not be treated as second class citizens in our own company.”
While Disney’s board avoided answering questions, company management saw first-hand the solidarity of front line workers who demonstrated outside the meeting and who attended the meeting including Teamsters Fittipaldi; Susan Easton, a three-year parking worker; Kevin Van Orman, a four-year bus driver; and Local 385 Business Agent and former Disney truck driver Walt Howard.
“We will continue to fight for our Disney members’ livelihoods and we will not stop until they are rewarded for their hard work,” said Clay Jeffries, President of Local 385. “Our members help make Disney successful every day and they need to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness.”
Disney, like so many of America’s largest companies, is reaping the benefits of the new tax system. Disney announced it would pay $1,000 bonuses and other benefits (such as education related costs) for the employees. This news was welcomed by workers who already have a very hard time making ends meet. But then the other shoe dropped: Disney decided to exclude union workers in contract talks from this benefit. A tax bonus to some workers and not all is discriminatory and unfair, and Local 385 has taken this issue to the National Labor Relations Board.