Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

“Happiest Place on Earth” Seeks Wage Hikes

The locals that represent approximately 36,000 unionized workers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, are set to begin negotiations on August 28, with the express purpose of raising the hourly wage. It’s all part of an 5.5 year agreement signed in 2014, which allows the unions to re-open the wage portion of the contract in 2017.

According to what’s been reported, the unions (including big names like UNITE HERE, Teamsters, SEIU, UFCW, Bakery and Confectionary workers, and covering everything from custodial work, to drivers, to servers, to ride operators) will be looking to achieve, by degrees, parity with the $15/hour paid by Southern California’s Disneyland. The stated goal is to reach that $15/hour rate by 2022. Per the 2014 contract, the majority of Orlando workers currently make $10.00/hour.

While the practice of “openers” (re-opening key provisions of a union contract) has been around forever, it came roaring upon the scene during the 1970s, when the scourge of runaway inflation began to savagely eat away at base wages. The “opener” is an interesting and—when allowed to function as designed—beneficial device.

There are all types of openers, the most common of which are ones that focus directly on wages or (most recently) health care benefits. Indeed, openers are exceedingly limited and very specific. Besides both parties (union and management) being required to agree on re-opening the contract, only certain predetermined provisions may be discussed.

Take a standard 4-year contract for example. If the union feels that putting its signature on a 4-year document dangerously exposes them to being victimized by inflation or other unforeseeable changes in the economic landscape, it can request that the wage portion of the contract be re-opened after, say, the second year.

The company, dreading having to sit down at the bargaining table again and bicker with union wild men over money, is free to deny the request, arguing that no one can accurately predict the future, that both sides would be equally vulnerable to unforeseeable changes (not true, actually), and that, after all, a deal is a deal.

Occasionally, the company will try to take advantage of the opportunity. They will leverage the union’s intense desire for openers to obtain a longer contract, insisting that if the union is serious about wanting to re-open the wage portion of the contract, they must agree to a 6-year term of the agreement instead of only four. Surprisingly, that tactic works more often than not.

Also, even with a good-faith re-opener provision in place, nothing is guaranteed. Because the company is not obligated to add so much as one penny to the existing wage package, the union could wind up with same money—but instead of being stuck with it for four years, they’re stuck with it for six years. The only thing that most openers legally require of the parties is to sit down and discuss the issue under the rules of collective bargaining.

What makes the Disney World opener so interesting is that it is stipulated that if wage negotiations (which begin on August 28) don’t result in an agreement by October 24, the entirety of the contract—and not only the wage portion—is automatically re-opened. That’s an excellent incentive for the company not to lowball them. The union negotiators did well.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World are undeniably unique in certain ways. Because they are vaguely seen as being part of the Entertainment Industry, that perception benefits them greatly. Working at some hamburger joint, while similar in job duties, is nowhere near as “prestigious” as working at Disneyland’s Hungry Bear restaurant. Disney employees don’t wear uniforms. What they wear are referred to as “costumes.” It’s special.

One is reminded of the old joke. A guy who works at the circus complains to a friend that his job is becoming a drag. Among his duties is to follow the elephants with a shovel and wheelbarrow and pick up their droppings. The friend suggests that if the job has become so unpleasant he should just quit. The guy replies incredulously, “What? And leave show business??”

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
George Payne
The Direction of No Return: a Meditation on America’s Decent into Tyranny
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgive
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Kevin Martin
It’s Not Always All About Trump
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
May 24, 2018
Gary Leupp
Art of the Dealbreaker: Trump’s Cancellation of the Summit with Kim
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail