Walt Disney World Union Workers Win Deal for $15 Minimum Wage

August 26, 2018, 4:29 PM UTC
Cinderella's Castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom
ORLANDO, US - JANUARY 20: Fireworks explode over the Cinderella Castle at The Magic Kingdom, part of Disney World on January 20, 2017 in Orlando, Florida, US. (Photo: Vanessa Carvalho/Brazil Press Photo/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Brazil Photo Press LatinContent/Getty Images

Walt Disney World employees will soon see an increase in pay, after an agreement was reached between the company and unions representing resort staff.

The Service Trades Council Union (STCU) and Disney announced the deal to raise wages to $15 an hour by 2021 on Saturday, according to CNN. The two have been in talks to increase pay for nearly a year, when the STCU asked for $15 an hour in August 2017, WKMG reported. At the time, Disney countered with $10.25.

A deal was reached by both parties late Friday night and will be voted on by union members on Sept. 5.

“I expect it to be a resounding ‘yes,'” Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362, said, according to CNN. “We’ve had excellent turnout. People feel so high … I walked in this morning at 7 a.m. for a staff meeting and people were clapping and cheering, and they just really feel great.”

Resort workers will also get $1,000 cash bonuses that they were promised in January of this year. Disney CEO Bob Iger said at the time: “I am proud we are directing approximately $125 million to our cast members and employees across the country.” However, the bonuses were delayed due to union negotiations, union workers told WKMG.

In March, union workers held a protest in the streets outside their workplace to demand their promised bonuses. After the company voted to increase wages by just 50 cents, which the union turned down, Disney also withheld the bonuses, WKMG reported.

As contract negotiations continued, the unions did not make any major concessions. “Disney is a powerful company, they’re a formidable foe,” Clinton said. “To stand up to your boss that’s that big and that powerful is really remarkable, and it’s really inspiring.”

Workers’ pay will increase to $11 an hour in December, and will continue to increase to $15 between then and 2021. According to WKMG, the payment increase schedule is as follows: $12 in March 2019, $13 in Sept. 2019, $14 in Oct. 2020, $15 in Oct. 2021.

Earlier this July, four unions representing workers at Disney’s California theme park also voted in favor of higher wages, with starting salaries beginning at $15 an hour come January.

Employees covered by the new deal with Walt Disney World include food service, custodial, hotel, and park workers.