FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

“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
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail