9 Investigates: Disney project workers laid off when park closed two weeks ago

Coronavirus In-Depth: Disney project workers laid off when park closed two weeks ago

ORLANDO, Fla. — Disney is closed until further notice and executives have had their salaries slashed to try to keep the business on track.

Meanwhile the company says it will continue paying its employees through April 18.

But WFTV found some people who worked on Disney projects have already been laid off.

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They reached out to investigative reporter Daralene Jones, who reports their pay stopped when Disney closed two weeks ago.

Samatha Colunga fell in love the moment she delivered her newborn son, exactly a month ago.

Two weeks later she was laid off from Buena Vista Construction Company, which is an arm of Disney construction, park maintenance and repairs.

“In this type of work that we do, we do get laid off, but usually we know it's coming and we're a little bit more prepared for it,” Colunga said. “This just came up out of nowhere.”

Buena Vista Construction company is an indirect subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.

Union leaders believe the construction company should've been required to continue paying its workers, considering money now available from federal and state agencies.

“Most of the small businesses in the construction industry are used to laying their workforce off in response to a slowed down economy, so they already reacted before the government did,” said James Williams with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Some major public construction projects like I-4 and Orlando International Airport expansions continue.

And in a statement, the Florida Department of Transportation signaled no plans to stop, stating in part, if traffic decreases are realized, construction teams may revise lane closures and night-time operations to maximize the opportunity to complete projects earlier than anticipated.

“Too many members have had to choose between going to work and paying their bills, which is critically important, as well and also the fear of working side by side,” Williams said.

That fear is amplified in Colunga’s home where she's now waiting for a bailout from an overwhelmed unemployment system.

And that check won't come with insurance needed for her newly expanded family.

“I have to pay out of pocket if he’s not covered. That is a harsh reality for so many people,” she said.