Disneyland Character Performs Look To Organize Union

In a surprising move, workers at Disneyland, including performers portraying beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Cinderella, have announced their intentions to unionize. This development comes amidst demands for better safety conditions and scheduling policies for employees, as well as a desire to have a stronger voice in the workplace.

The workers are seeking to join the Actors’ Equity Association, a national union that represents over 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. With their sights set on better working conditions and a more transparent process for decision-making, these employees are looking to follow in the footsteps of their Walt Disney World counterparts, who have been unionized for decades.

Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association, spoke about the workers’ expectations, stating, “Disney workers are openly and powerfully invested in and loyal to the Walt Disney Company and its values, so it’s reasonable for them to expect ‘the happiest place on earth’ to pay them fairly and prioritize their health and safety.”

The call for unionization at Disneyland comes as no surprise, as Disney has faced criticism for not paying its workers enough to afford to live in Southern California, despite the company’s massive profits. Last year, the resort was also impacted by a 118-day strike by SAG-AFTRA performers, who were demanding higher pay and protection against the use of artificial intelligence.

The unionization effort involves not only performers, but also other support roles such as hosts, trainers, and leads. These workers are responsible for bringing characters to life in shows, parades, meet and greets, and other experiences within the park. It’s worth noting that while these roles are included in the unionization effort at Disneyland, their Walt Disney World counterparts have already been represented by Actors’ Equity Association for many years.

A Disneyland official has responded to the news, stating that the company believes the workers deserve to have all the facts and the right to a confidential vote that recognizes their individual choices. However, if a majority of workers choose to unionize, Disney will be required to sit down with Equity representatives and negotiate a contract under federal labor law.

The unionization effort is not a done deal, as Disney has the option to decline recognition of the union. In this case, Equity will file the necessary paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board, and a union recognition election will be scheduled for Cast Members in the Characters and Parades departments. Ultimately, the decision will come down to a vote by the workers, and if the majority votes in favor of unionization, Disney will be obligated to sit down at the bargaining table and negotiate a contract.

In a statement, Shindle emphasized the importance of collective bargaining, saying, “When we can speak with a collective voice, we can have a clearer, more productive conversation with our employer. Ultimately, this will result in a better experience for all – Cast Members, managers, and more importantly, our Guests.”

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