ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — More than 8,800 part-time Walt Disney World cast members will be laid off, union UNITE HERE Local 737 announced Wednesday.
On Sept. 29, the union was notified that the employment status of 5,299 full-time and 8,857 part-time cast members would be changing from furlough to layoff.
The layoffs are a result of the parks' low attendance and occupancy, which have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, the union said.
“These are unprecedented times," Matt Hollis, president of Services Trades Council Union, said in a news release. “It is unfortunate anytime a worker is laid off and the mass layoffs that Disney is facing are extremely difficult for thousands of Cast Members. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their speedy return to work.”
Laid-off employees will have until October 2022 to be recalled to work, the union says.
No full-time cast members will face layoffs, the union said.
Additionally, the union and Disney agreed that there will be no permanent layoffs, the union said, and any cast members who are laid off in the future will retain their employment, seniority, rate of pay including any scheduled increases and the right to return to their job.
“This means that all Cast Members represented by the STCU will be given priority to return to their job prior to Disney hiring new employees off the street,” the union said.
Those affected will also receive 60 days worth of pay.
Disney announced in late September that it would be laying off 28,00 workers between its parks in Florida and California.
“As incredibly difficult as it is to take this action, this agreement helps us preserve many full-time jobs,” a Disney spokesperson said. “For those affected by this decision, we thank you for all your dedication. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience, and we hope to welcome back Cast Members where we can.”
Sonja Flowers, a cast member for 26 years at The Grand Floridian, said it could have been worse.
“SeaWorld laid off all their people and then turned around and hired new people, they’re not going to do that to us," she said. “Our jobs and our seniority even as part timers are there waiting for us.”
These layoffs are coming at a time when so many people are already in need.
But there are a lot of resources out there to help.
For many, the struggle to pay the bills is getting even more challenging with the layoffs. But a growing community of support is trying to help keep people afloat.
Here’s a list of links and resources:
Donate via Venmo: @castmemberpantry
To help all those unemployed in Central Florida fight food insecurity:
See more below:
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