Report: Majority of Tourism Workers Can’t Afford a One-Day Ticket To Disney World, Disney Union Calls for Immediate $18/hr Minimum Wage

    A report released by Unite Here Local 737 paints a grim picture of the situation for Central Florida tourism workers. The report surveyed 2,415 hourly tourism workers at 6 different employers, including Walt Disney World, about the cost of living in Florida. In the past year, respondents reported that:

    • 69% have not had the money to pay rent or mortgage
    • 42% had relationship or family problems because of stress about money
    • 45% skipped meals
    • 62% have less than $100 in savings (less than the cheapest one-day ticket to Disney World)

    The cost of living has increased significantly in Central Florida – up 23.7% in the past year alone in the Orlando metro area. While the report notes that Disney World increased wages to $15/hr in 2021, workers need a minimum of $18/hr to make ends meet now.

    As has been reporting since late August, Disney World and the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) are in negotiations over wages and other topics. The STCU represents more than 41,000 Disney World Cast Members, and while some progress has been made on select topics, issues such as wages and healthcare remain at an impasse. Disney World and the STCU will resume negotiations at the end of November.

    The report from Local 737 relied on third-party data such as the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which says that an adult with no dependants needs to make at least $18.19/hr to reach a living wage. Combined with a “housing emergency” as declared by the Orange County Commission and general inflation, the report concludes that tourism workers need an immediate increase in wages.

    Disney World’s initial offer on wage increases was $1 per year over the next five years – reaching a $20 minimum wage in 2027. The union’s initial stance was a $5 increase over the next 3 years – reaching a $20 minimum wage in 2025.

    A graph from the report shows that in 2019, Disney World was paying a minimum wage of $13/hr – slightly above the living wage of $12.70 at the time. Since then, the agreed-upon raises for a contract ending in October 2022 did not meet the rise in the cost of living. The current minimum wage of $15 at Disney World is below the $18.19 living wage as calculated by MIT.

    Simply put, Disney World Cast Members can’t afford to live in Central Florida, falling roughly $530 short each month on average, for food, rent, and car expenses. The situation only gets worse for a married couple working at Disney World.

    On the other side of the equation, Disney World is recording record profits. An earnings call is scheduled for November 8th where Disney will share fiscal 2022 profits.

    Disney Parks Records $7.4 Billion Revenue in Third Quarter 2022
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    To read the full report, visit the Local 737 website:

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    1. Abigail Disney’s documentary on the state of pay for current CM is a must watch. Disney is a industry leader and as such their treatment of CM is becoming the norm everywhere else. It isn’t just Disney but Disney can afford to make a difference and enable their staff to live comfortably affording their own house and not having to depend on food banks. It must change

    2. Chapek quote on raising guest prices: “If demand goes up, then we have the opportunity to do that.”….hummm, let’s see where this goes for the front line workers.

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