Disney employees rally before union talks begin

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Two of Disney's largest unions gathered employees together Monday night to begin a push for higher wages.
 

Those unions represent more than 20,000 workers.
 
Nearly 1,000  Disney union workers packed a Lake Buena Vista hotel.
 
Officials with Disney said they offer leading pay and benefits, but employees in two of the major unions said  many of them are making less than $10 an hour.
 
For the first time two unions are joining forces, hoping strength in numbers will make their dreams come true.
 
"I love what I do," said Disney housekeeper Maria Carrillo. "What we want is better pay and better health insurance."
 
"I am very hopeful. We are  really optimistic (and) have a good relationship with Disney," said Jeremy Cruz-Haicken, president of Local 737.
 
The rally comes on the heels of Disney raising adult admission prices.
 
"Everything is going up and we hope that makes Disney a better place to work and help families as well," said Carrillo.
 
"We appreciate our cast members, know they are a big part of the success here at Walt Disney World," said Walt Disney World representative Jacquee Whaler.
 
Whaler said Disney offers competitive pay and benefits, and although some people might make less than $8 or $9 an hour, that is not across the board.
 
"We have a long history of offering pay increases for our cast members and continue to do that," Whaler said.
 
The last wage increase for workers was in March 2013.
   
"What we are doing is sending a message, '(It) doesn't matter who you are, when, you are together you can make difference,'" said Carillo.

"Ultimately we will get this done and the union leadership will get membership the best wage increase possible," said Ed Chambers, president of the Services Trades Council of Unions.
 
Negotiations between the union and Disney begin next week.