• Disney World, unions representing 38K workers reach deal to raise starting pay to $15 by 2021

    By: Jason Kelly

    Updated:

    BAY LAKE, Fla. - After more than a year of negotiations, Walt Disney World and the Service Trades Council Union, an organization that comprises the six labor unions representing more than 38,000 service workers, said Saturday that they had struck a deal to raise starting pay to $15 an hour by 2021.

    The tentative agreement between Disney and STCU provides wage increases for all of its hourly, non-tipped union workers, the company said.

    "We are thrilled our cast members will have the chance to vote on what is one of the highest entry-level service wages in the country," said Robbin Almand, vice president of labor relations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "This represents a 50 percent bump in pay, bringing starting wages to $15 an hour by 2021."

    Read: Disney to pay 100 percent of tuition upfront for all hourly employees 

    Disney said the proposal is the largest it has ever offered to Walt Disney World workers, and it includes retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or 3 percent -- whichever is greater -- for all hours worked since Sept. 24.

    Union representatives will vote on the contract on Sept. 5 and 6 and will unanimously recommend a yes vote by workers, a Disney spokeswoman said.

    STCU said the raises will inject an estimated $1 billion into Central Florida's economy during the four-year contract.

    Read: Disney's 3d-quarter profit slightly lower than expected

    "These union raises will be life-changing for the women and men who welcome millions of tourists to Walt Disney World," said Matt Hollis, STCU's president. "Now, money tourists spend here in Central Florida will stay here, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into local small businesses."

    When Disney raised minimum pay from $8 to $10 in 2014, other nonunion employers, such as Universal Orlando Resort, announced similar raises to match the standard set by Disney, STCU said.

    The organization said it hopes the latest increase will create a ripple effect in the region's tourism sector.

    Read: Disney says 'so long' to plastic straws in its parks

    "These union raises at Disney will benefit everyone in Central Florida," said Jeremy Haicken, STCU's secretary-treasurer. "Disney did the right thing by raising wages. Living wages mean cast members will spend more locally on school supplies and clothes for their kids, drive more dependable cars and go out to eat in local restaurants. These union raises are for everyone."

    The unions said the new contract will raise the minimum pay from $10 an hour to $11 an hour in December, $12 an hour in March, $13 an hour in September 2019, $14 an hour in October 2020 and $15 an hour in October 2021.

    Employees whose current pay is more than $10 will receive at least $4.75 an hour in raises by October 2021, with $2.50 an hour within the first six months, STCU said. The new agreement will end on Oct. 1, 2022.

    Read: Sources: Disney, unions that represent 38K workers could soon strike deal

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