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Disney Reaches Tentative Contract Deal With 21,000 Full-Time Workers

Skift Take

There will always be some wins and some losses for employees during labor agreements, but it sounds like Disney tried to take concerns into account to create an acceptable plan.

— Samantha Shankman

Walt Disney World has reached a tentative agreement with its largest union group that includes a minimum hourly rate of $10 for workers, starting in 2016.

Disney reached the agreement with the Services Trade Council, a coalition of six unions covering 21,000 full-time workers, minutes before its current contract was to expire late Thursday night. That contract was extended to allow workers to vote on the new one Aug. 1.

The agreement keeps in place the company’s pension plan for new hires, union representatives said. Disney had sought to eliminate that and replace it with a 401(k) plan with a 3 percent match. The contract would also freeze weekly health insurance costs for employees in 2015. Costs could go up from there, but the contract would provide a cap.

Four of the six unions approved the agreement. Ed Chambers, president of the Services Trade Council, said the Teamsters and the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees voted against it.

Those unions have higher-paid employees and did not like that the new contract would no longer provide for percentage increases, Chambers said. Workers who are above minimum rates will receive 50-cent per hour increases annually for three years.

The increase “helps those people at the bottom,” Chambers said.

Chambers said the Teamsters still need to negotiate with Disney about the number of 40-hour-per-week shifts provided to bus drivers.

Chambers was particularly happy about the freezing of health care costs for a year.

“I give Disney a lot of credit. They did the right thing,” he said. “A number of employees spoke out last night at negotiations and emphasized the importance of freezing health care for a year. Disney heard what they said.”

Unite Here Local 362 and Unite Here Local 737, two unions representing more than 60 percent of full-timers in the Services Trade Council, gave the contract a hearty endorsement Friday.

“We are extremely proud to have reached such an unprecedented milestone for thousands of Disney workers,” said Jeremy Cruz-Haicken, president of Unite Here Local 737, in a press release. “The agreement includes the biggest wage increase workers have seen in recent memory.”

The contract would cover every full-timer in job classifications covered by the unions.

The contract would last for five and a half years. Negotiations on wages would start again in three and a half years.

(c)2014 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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