Union expresses concerns about Disney cast members returning to work

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A local union is concerned about the plan to reopen Walt Disney World parks.

“I would actually say most of our people are eager to get back to work,” said Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents more than 700 singers, actors, dancers and stage managers who help put together shows ad Walt Disney World. “They’re not all being called back right away, but we have to get this right, hopefully before anybody goes back.”

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Disney recently announced it would delay reopening its parks in California. After that, the union called on Disney World to delay its opening and strengthen safety protocols with regular testing.

“Since we put out our public call for testing yesterday… I know I don’t have to tell you there have been more than 5,000 new cases in the state of Florida,” Shindle said.

The union previously hired an epidemiologist, a former top official at OSHA, to evaluate safety protocols and make recommendations about safety for stage productions.

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His recommendations include there be few new cases in the area, and extensive testing. Regular testing remains the sticking point that Disney hasn’t agreed on.

Disney hasn’t said if it’s considering a delay in reopening, but issued a statement saying it would like to bring back live stage shows, but the union hasn’t agreed to its terms.

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Read Disney’s full statement below:

“As we reopen our theme parks, we would like to include live stage shows. We have heard from many cast members that they are eager to return; however, the Actors’ Equity Association has not agreed to the terms of the recall impacting our ability to invite these cast members back at this time. The health and well-being of our cast members and guests is an important priority for us, and our theme park reopening plan has been approved by county and state officials.”

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.