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Union, Walt Disney World reach agreement on safety protocols, benefits for cast members returning to work

ORLANDO, Fla. — The union representing Walt Disney World workers announced that they’ve reached an agreement with Disney over the safeguards that will be provided to cast members when they return to work. The agreement comes less than a week before the first portion of the property is set to reopen for business.

The Service Trades Council Union, which represents Walt Disney World workers, announced on social media Thursday that the agreement provides safety protections and benefits for workers upon return.

Disney Springs is set to be the first portion of the Orlando theme park property to open back up, beginning a phased reopening on May 20. Officials said a limited number of shopping and dining experiences that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open during the first phase.

“Coronavirus

READ: From salons to theme parks and shopping malls: What’s reopening in Central Florida and when?

Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here, Local 362, part of the union that represents all the full and part time workers at Walt Disney World, said around a 1,000 people will be allowed in when Disney Springs reopens. To serve them, he said his union will have 176 people back on the job over the next two weeks.

Irma Caraballo, a custodian at Disney for the past 16 years, she she’s excited to get back to work after going months without a paycheck.

"We just have to take it day by day,” Carabello said. “I don’t know what can happen, I’m just excited to go back.”

The union said the agreement includes paid time off for any workers who test positive for COVID-19 so that they are able to safely quarantine, and also allows cast members with COVID-19 symptoms to call in without attendance discipline.

Union officials said workers will be trained on how to conduct self assessments regarding symptoms of COVID-19, and will be provided thermometers if needed.

According to the union, when Walt Disney World facilities begin to reopen, masks will be mandatory for guests and cast members and that each worker will be provided three masks. The union said guests’ temperature will also be checked on property.

READ: Walt Disney World to begin accepting resort reservations in July

The union said the agreement also mandates social distancing practices and training at multiple levels on safety.

Plastic barriers at cash registers, touchless transactions, increased cleaning of high traffic areas and additional sanitation and handwashing stations will all be required, according to the union’s statement.

“This agreement paves the way for each affiliated union of the STCU to continue to have conversations with the company, including ensuring your safety when you return to work,” the statement read.

Late last night the STCU came to an Agreement about the recalling Cast Members back to work. The deal provides many...

Posted by UNITE HERE Central Florida on Thursday, May 14, 2020

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.