Disney World union workers reach tentative deal to $18 an hour starting pay

'Cast members have stood together,' said Matt Hollis, who leads the union coalition of nearly 45,000 workers. 'Today we win that fight.'

Walt Disney World Resort and its biggest union coalition reached a tentative deal to raise the minimum pay from $15 to $18 an hour for full-time employees this year, union leaders announced.

Union members chanted, “Disney workers got a raise!” during a press conference to announce the proposed deal which would eventually increase the starting pay to $20.50 by October 2026.

“Cast members have stood together,” said Matt Hollis, who leads the union coalition of nearly 45,000 workers. “Today we win that fight.”

To make the contract official, union members will vote on the deal March 29. Contract talks for part-time employees are still underway, according to the union.

“Our cast members are central to Walt Disney World’s enduring magic, which is why we are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement. Disney is proud to offer an industry-leading employment package that includes comprehensive benefits and affordable medical coverage,” said Jeff Vahle, President of Walt Disney World Resort, in a statement.

“With the support of the unions, we anticipate cast members will approve this new agreement.”

Disney and the Service Trades Council have held labor talks for a new contract since summer of 2022. The Service Trades Council represents Disney World employees who operate the rides, drive buses, clean the hotels, cook the food, help put on the entertainment at the resort and do other roles to keep the massive resort running.

“It’s been 210 days since we first sat down with Disney at the bargaining table in this round of bargaining,” Hollis said. “It’s been 535 days since Disney workers’ last raise.”

In February, union members rejected Disney’s contract offer to increase starting wages to $17 an hour this year as workers pushed for more money.

“We were at a little bit of a standstill with Disney over wages, which are very, very important,” Hollis said.

Meanwhile, Universal Orlando Resort, which isn’t unionized, raised workers’ starting pay from $15 an hour to $17 starting June 4.

Under the proposed contract, Disney union members would get eight weeks of paid child bonding leave, a benefit they don’t currently have, according to the union.

If union members approve the contract, the minimum pay will automatically increase to $17 an hour for current and new employees and then jump to $18 an hour by the end of this year for current workers.

Workers will get paid their raises retroactively dating back to October 2022 when the old contact expired.

Disney workers said their higher pay will make differences in their lives.

“Just this morning, I was crying thinking about how I was going to afford my car tag renewal on top of the rent this week,” said Tiara Moton, a cook at the Magic Kingdom’s “Beauty & the Beast”-themed restaurant. “But this raise is going to get me another $4.10 right away and retroactive pay. As a single mom, it’s going to let me finally catch up and even get ahead.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • Earl Pitts American

    March 23, 2023 at 8:46 pm

    Good evening Bob Iger and the rest of Disney management,
    Congrats you all did it!!!
    An informative article was released and approved by you guys without any mention whatsoever of any homertestical, trans, ect ect ect weirdness. Its about time!!!
    Thank you Gov. Desantis for spanking your wayward child.
    Hopefully Disney has learned a lesson in customer service. Normal people stopped patronising Disney to the point Disney finally figgured out there are not enough homertestical trans on the planet to pay the bills. Oh and what you have done with paying your workers is darn decent.
    Thank you Bob Iger and the rest of Disney management,
    Earl Pitts American
    ps me and my lovely Wife, Earline Pitts American, will be coming to Orlando soon and will take you up on your generous offer of a week + food plan in one of your fine resort properties.

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