Faith, Trust, and … Picket Signs at Disneyland?

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Disney, the poster child of woke corporations, may soon have a problem convincing people that Disneyland remains The Happiest Place on Earth. As reported on the independent Disney parks-devoted site MiceChat, union workers at the park will be voting on December third whether to accept Disney’s latest contract offer or go on strike.

According to an SEIU communication sent to affected members (other unions involved are UFCW and the Teamsters), money is the sticking point. The negotiated agreement offers:

$1 per hour increase, retroactive pay from 6/16/2021

$1 per hour increase effective Nov. 17th, 2021 (moved up from June 2022)

$1 per hour increase on 6/16/2023

For long-term cast members, those who were hired on or before 6/16/2001 would get $2000 (for full-time) and $1000 (for part-time) bonuses. For those who were hired between 6/17/2001 and 6/16/2011, they would get $1000 (for full-time) and $500 (for part-time) bonuses.

The union’s counteroffer is … non-existent. As the communication to its members clarifies, union leaders are thoroughly happy with the negotiated deal and would greatly prefer its acceptance by the rank and file. This is reportedly nonplussing members. From an earlier update on MiceChat:

If this process has proven anything, it’s that cast members are standing up not only to a contract they are unhappy with, but also being vocal against their own union representation. The unions have responded by locking down their Facebook groups so their members can’t comment. And that, in turn, has fueled calls for investigations of the vote and a movement to replace union leadership.

Making the matter even more convoluted, Disneyland workers rejected the contract offer while Disney California Adventure employees accepted the deal. This no doubt comes as a relief to Disney, as the thought of what kind of protest assorted Avengers Campus residents could muster is somewhat chilling. “Mommy, why is Spider-Man spelling out DISNEY UNFAIR TO SUPERHEROES with his web shooter across the Pixar Pier sign?”

Disney, for its part, insists it is ready and willing to dig into Scrooge McDuck’s vault for park employees, with the minimum salary it offers park employees going to $17/hr starting next month if the deal is approved. For the record, Orange County, California, where Disneyland resides, requires a minimum wage of $14/hr. These numbers may be eye-popping to those living outside the tarnished Golden State. Still, a starting salary of $17/hr or even higher is nearly mandatory for retailers in either the greater Los Angeles region or San Francisco Bay Area. When gasoline is five dollars a gallon and so is milk, employers must throw around serious coin.

Disney, of course, can’t get involved in inter-union squabbles. Moreover, it hopes its Disneyland contingent will follow the Disney California Adventure employees’ lead by accepting the negotiated deal. A strike during one of the busiest months of the year severely curtailing, if not shutting down altogether, park operations would be a nightmare on multiple fronts. The optics alone would be brutal. Imagine the scenario of telling a crying six-year-old whose family had been saving for years for a Disneyland trip that no, you won’t be meeting Cinderella after all because she’s too busy marching on Harbor Boulevard with a sign.

For their part, the involved unions aren’t precisely clothing themselves in glory. A “townhall meeting” featuring Bernie Sanders was scheduled before the agreement now hanging in the balance came to fruition. Here’s a helpful hint: If you’re in a labor negotiation situation and you’re hoping for public support, avoid importing the lunatic fringe. At least Lorena Gonzales-Fletcher seems not yet to have stuck her nose into the matter next to Dumbo’s.

It is unknown how this will play out. In the meanwhile, a suggestion for all involved. Pick up a copy of Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt and read the whole book. Maybe then you’ll have a better grip on reality.