Disney boosts minimum pay for workers relying on food banks Disney boosts minimum pay for workers relying on food banks

Disney boosts minimum pay for workers relying on food banks
10 Aug 2018

Walt Disney Co has agreed to increase the minimum pay rate for some of its workers from US$11 to US$15 per hour following revelations that they were relying on food banks and sleeping in their cars.

Members of four unions representing ticket takers, ride operators, cleaners, store employees and truck and bus drivers at the southern Californian Disneyland resort complex in Anaheim approved the deal and agreed to call off a planned hunger strike and protest.

But while Disneyland employs around 30,000 people, only about 8,600 were included in the deal. Members of the two largest unions at the resort, representing food service and hotel workers, were not included and neither were several thousand non-unionised workers. 

According to The Guardian newspaper, the stage is now set for a brutal showdown over an initiative that is due to be voted on in November by Anaheim residents to expand the US$15-per-hour minimum wage to employees of any large company that has received subsidies from the city.

The ballot, which targets a large local hotel developer as well as Disneyland, would mandate further wage increases of up to US$18 per hour by 2022 – by which time a state-imposed minimum wage of US$15 per hour is set to kick in. A consortium of local business interests has already sought to define the ballot initiative as a 'job killer' that would deter investment. 

But those in favour say it is intolerable that taxpayers should spend hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate subsidies only to have to spend millions more in public assistance to workers living on the fringes of poverty.

A union-sponsored study published in February found that real wages at Disneyland had fallen 15% since 2000. Almost three quarters of resort workers said they could not cover basic living expenses and 11% had been homeless at some point over the previous two years.

A study published in 2017 by a consortium of county government and business leaders said that a worker earning just under US$20 an hour would have to work 70 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The thinktank that produced the union-sponsored study believes Disneyland workers would ideally need US$23 an hour to make ends meet.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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Walt Disney Co has agreed to increase the minimum pay rate for some of its workers from US$11 to US$15 per hour following revelations that they were relying on food banks and sleeping in their cars.

Members of four unions representing ticket takers, ride operators, cleaners, store employees and truck and bus drivers at the southern Californian Disneyland resort complex in Anaheim approved the deal and agreed to call off a planned hunger strike and protest.

But while Disneyland employs around 30,000 people, only about 8,600 were included in the deal. Members of the two largest unions at the resort, representing food service and hotel workers, were not included and neither were several thousand non-unionised workers. 

According to The Guardian newspaper, the stage is now set for a brutal showdown over an initiative that is due to be voted on in November by Anaheim residents to expand the US$15-per-hour minimum wage to employees of any large company that has received subsidies from the city.

The ballot, which targets a large local hotel developer as well as Disneyland, would mandate further wage increases of up to US$18 per hour by 2022 – by which time a state-imposed minimum wage of US$15 per hour is set to kick in. A consortium of local business interests has already sought to define the ballot initiative as a 'job killer' that would deter investment. 

But those in favour say it is intolerable that taxpayers should spend hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate subsidies only to have to spend millions more in public assistance to workers living on the fringes of poverty.

A union-sponsored study published in February found that real wages at Disneyland had fallen 15% since 2000. Almost three quarters of resort workers said they could not cover basic living expenses and 11% had been homeless at some point over the previous two years.

A study published in 2017 by a consortium of county government and business leaders said that a worker earning just under US$20 an hour would have to work 70 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The thinktank that produced the union-sponsored study believes Disneyland workers would ideally need US$23 an hour to make ends meet.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Nearly half of Disney's US staff go hungry, claims report

Washington DC considers repealing minimum wage increases for tipped workers

Implications of Vietnam's minimum wage increases revealed

 

 

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