Disneyland Actors, Characters & Parade Performers Officially File for Unionization Following Supermajority Vote

    Mickey Mouse is unionizing at Disneyland, and the “Magic United” movement within the entertainment division has announced a major milestone in their efforts to form a union. Disneyland did not voluntarily recognize the unionization efforts, which forced Cast Members to file an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board. Here’s the announcement:

    The people who bring Disney characters to life in Disneyland’s shows, meet-and-greets and character dining experiences throughout the iconic resort have something new to celebrate today – they have reached a major milestone in their union organizing campaign. At a news conference Wednesday morning in a room overlooking Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the Grand Californian Hotel, Disney Cast Members who work in the Parades and Characters departments and the president of Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) announced that the union had filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for union recognition, with Equity serving as their bargaining representative.

    “The Cast Members who bring the Characters and Parades to life have been non-union since Disneyland Resort opened in the 1950s and have watched other workers in the park unionize all around them. Just eight weeks after Equity launched a campaign seeking union authorization cards, we have signatures from a supermajority of those eligible,” said Equity President Kate Shindle. “These performers, and the Hosts, Leads and Trainers who create magic alongside them, know that their lives – as well as the Guest experience at Disneyland – can be improved through collective bargaining. They deserve a voice in their workplace, and meaningful negotiations over wages, benefits and working conditions.”

    Calling themselves “Magic United,” Cast Members announced their intention to unionize on February 13, and since then volunteer organizers have collected signed union authorization cards from coworkers.

    Yesterday, The Walt Disney Company was notified that a supermajority of the 1,700 eligible Cast Members had signed the union’s petition, and the company was asked to grant voluntary recognition. In the joint letter from the members of Magic United sent to Disneyland Resort’s Labor Relations, the Cast Members wrote: “Our hope is to keep moving forward in collaboration. We believe improving our collective working conditions will have a direct impact on not only Cast Members’ lives, but the caliber of entertainment we offer at Disneyland Resort.”

    “We love the work we do. We are proud to be a part of one of the greatest legacies in modern entertainment. Magic United invites The Walt Disney Company to voluntarily recognize our union and work with us to enhance an essential aspect of Walt Disney’s vision for his theme park – the transcendent magic of live entertainment.”

    The union has not had a response from the company and will move forward to arrange for a union election with the NLRB. Unless the company grants recognition, an election will likely be held on-site at the resort in May or June.

    Speaking at the Wednesday morning announcement, Magic United spokespeople discussed in detail their desire for improvements in safety, scheduling, a living wage, benefits and an opportunity to have a say in their workplace. They spoke of the difficulty of obtaining health insurance through Disney. Base pay for Parade and Character Cast Members is $24.15/hour with various premiums on top of that for different roles. But the premiums vary greatly and can be as little as 40 cents/hour. Despite the issues raised, the speakers at Wednesday’s announcement made it clear that they love their jobs and are both pro-Disney and pro-union.

    “Our goal is to make ‘the happiest place on Earth’ a little happier,” said Shindle. “Equity has a very good relationship with Disney. We negotiate with them at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and with Disney Theatricals on Broadway and national tours. We look forward to meeting with their representatives across the bargaining table, and together, making the Disneyland Resort a fairer and safer place to work.”

    The Disneyland Resort, which includes Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure as well as three hotels and Downtown Disney, opened in 1955 and has become one of the most attended themed entertainment attractions in the world. Most of the Disneyland workforce is unionized, with those working in Characters and Parades being a notable exception – particularly notable given that their colleagues doing the same work in Florida have been unionized for decades.


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