Disneyland Employees Advocate for Higher Wages and Safety in Fight Against Homelessness

A collage with three sections: on the left, a homeless encampment; in the middle, Disneyland characters in front of a castle; on the right, a protest with people holding signs, including one that reads "Solidarity.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Nearly 2,000 Disneyland cast members have voted to unionize against the House of Mouse, which includes Mickey Mouse and Cinderella—at least the performers who play them.

Mickey Mouse and Cinderella wave in front of a Disney castle with a large speech bubble that says "Goodbye!" The sky is blue, and the scene is cheerful.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Disneyland Cast Members Vote to Unionize: Updates Provided as Potential Changes Imminent for Mickey Mouse, Cinderella

On Saturday evening, May 18, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a significant development for Disneyland Resort Cast Members. Those who perform as characters and dance in parades, as well as the hosts, leads, and trainers who work alongside them, have voted to be represented by the Actors’ Equity Association (Equity). For Equity to become the official bargaining representative for this group of 1,700 workers, they needed to secure more than 50% of the votes cast.

The results were overwhelmingly in favor of the union, with 79% of voters supporting it. The unofficial vote count stood at 953 for Equity and 258 opposed. If no challenges to the election arise, the NLRB’s regional director will certify the results within a week.

“They say that Disneyland is ‘the place where dreams come true,’ and for the Disney Cast Members who have worked to organize a union, their dream came true today,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle. “These workers are on the front lines of the Guest experience; they’re the human beings who create lifelong memories when your kids hug a character, or your family watches a parade roll by the castle. The next step will be to collaborate with them about improving health & safety, wages, benefits, working conditions, and job security. After that, we will meet with The Walt Disney Company representatives to negotiate those priorities into a first contract.”

Mickey Mouse with Disneyland cast members in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Park.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Equity has a strong working relationship with Disney, currently representing performers and stage managers at Walt Disney World in Orlando and with Disney Theatricals on Broadway and national tours. Before this vote, most of Disneyland Resort’s workforce was unionized, with the Characters and Parades departments being a notable exception. “This is an incredible victory, and we appreciate all the support over the past several weeks. We’re excited about the next phase,” Shindle said.

“These Cast Members are both pro-union and pro-Disney, and they’re looking forward to meeting with their employer across the bargaining table in a good faith effort to improve both the work experience and the Guest experience.” The Disneyland Resort, including Disneyland Park, Disney’s California Adventure, three hotels, and Downtown Disney, opened in 1955 and has become one of the most attended-themed entertainment attractions worldwide.

Founded in 1913, the Actors’ Equity Association represents over 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in the U.S. Equity works to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions, and providing various benefits, including health and pension plans. The recent vote to unionize Disneyland Resort Cast Members under the Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) carries significant implications for Disneyland, its employees, and the performers who bring beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Cinderella to life.

Disneyland cast members unionizing in front of the Sleeping Beauty castle inside Disneyland Park.

Credit: Inside The Magic

What This Means for the Parks, Performers, and More

Disneyland must negotiate with Equity to establish a collective bargaining agreement outlining wages, benefits, and working conditions for the newly unionized employees. This can lead to more structured and formalized labor relations. Adjustments may be required in operations to comply with new labor agreements, potentially affecting scheduling, staffing, and overall park management.

The new contract may increase labor costs due to improved wages and benefits, impacting Disneyland’s financial planning and budget allocations. Union representation typically leads to better working conditions, including enhanced health and safety measures, precise job security, and fairer disciplinary procedures. Cast Members can expect to see improvements in wages, benefits, and possibly more predictable schedules, contributing to better job satisfaction and quality of life.

Being part of a union gives Cast Members a collective voice, allowing them to advocate for their needs and concerns more effectively. Union representation often brings stronger job security provisions, protecting performers from unfair dismissal or arbitrary changes to their roles. Performers could see higher wages and better benefits packages, including health insurance and retirement plans, reflecting their crucial role in creating the Disney magic.

The offical Magic United website logo with a brief description for Disneyland cast members

Credit: Magic United website

The union can provide legal and professional support, ensuring that performers’ rights are upheld and any grievances are addressed through formal channels. The unionization is a landmark development for Disneyland Resort, symbolizing a significant shift towards enhanced labor rights and protections for a critical segment of its workforce. This move is expected to lead to a more empowered and satisfied workforce, which could, in turn, enhance the guest experience by ensuring that those who create the Disney magic are well-supported and fairly treated.

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic.

About Emmanuel Detres

Since first stepping inside the Magic Kingdom at nine years old, I knew I was destined to be a theme Park enthusiast. Although I consider myself a theme Park junkie, I still have much to learn and discover about Disney. Universal Orlando Resort has my heart; being an Annual Passholder means visiting my favorite places on Earth when possible! When I’m not writing about Disney, Universal, or entertainment news, you’ll find me cruising on my motorcycle, hiking throughout my local metro parks, or spending quality time with my girlfriend, family, or friends.

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