Some of the only Disneyland Resort workers who are not unionized announced today that they are organizing with Actors’ Equity Association. Ironically, they are among the most public-facing of the resort’s employees.
Calling themselves “Magic United,” Cast Members who work in the Disneyland resort’s Characters and Parades departments began circulating union authorization cards to 1,700 Cast Members and will seek voluntary recognition from Disney Resort Entertainment when a majority of the workers have signed.
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Characters and Parades employees are those who roam the park dressed as Mickey Mouse or Elsa from Frozen. They bring characters to life in shows, parades, meet and greets and character dining experiences. Hosts, Trainers, Leads and other roles that support performers are also included in the effort. It’s worth noting that cast members who do the same work at Walt Disney World have been unionized for decades.
Among the concerns noted in a statement from the union are safe and sanitary workplace conditions, a fair wage and more transparency in scheduling and rehiring decisions.
A Disneyland Official said in a statement to Deadline, “We believe that our Cast Members deserve to have all the facts and the right to a confidential vote that recognizes their individual choices.”
The Services Trades Council Union at Walt Disney, representing more than 45,000 other Disney employees, reached a contract agreement in March, 2023. The deal guarantees that, by October 2026, all current employees should expect a minimum wage of $20.50 per hour. Individuals hired after December 3rd, 2023, will receive $20 per hour by that time.
The Parks & Experiences unit is Disney’s economic driver pretty much since Covid ended. The quarter that ended in December saw revenue rise 7% to $9.1 billion. Income of $3.1 billion was up 8% but not domestically – that number was down 2%. Of the U.S. park, Disneyland was flat, Walt Disney World down.
Equity, as it is commonly called, is the national union that represents 51,000 professional actors and stage managers on Broadway and in live theatre across the United States, including the performers at Walt Disney World in Florida.
The unionization effort is not a done deal. If Disney declines to recognize the union, Equity will then file the cards with the National Labor Relations Board. Upon receiving the “petition,” the NLRB will schedule a union recognition election for Cast Members in the Character and Parades Departments. Disney will be required under federal labor law to sit down with Equity’s representatives at the bargaining table and negotiate a contract, following a vote in favor of unionization.
“Disneyland is a very special place, where Cast Members create magic that attracts millions of guests every year. 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. Unionizing is the collective pathway to ensuring that the magic makers share not only in the happiness, but in the $9.13 billion in quarterly ‘experience’ revenue that Disney announced to its shareholders on February 7,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle. “Equity already represents hundreds of performers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and we have a long and successful bargaining relationship with Disney.”
The leaders of Magic United echoed Shindle’s assessment in the following statement released today:
“We chose Actors’ Equity Association as our union because we’ve seen how well they work with Disney in Florida, on Broadway and on tour. Our Walt Disney World colleagues exemplify how you can be pro-Disney and pro-union at the same time. Furthermore, the vast majority of our park colleagues here in Anaheim already have union representation. It’s a win/win: 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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