Cast Members, Disney

UPDATE March 30 - The STCU vote took place yesterday and the agreement between Walt Disney World and the Union has now been confirmed. It will see new and existing Cast Members on a minimum of $17/hr, with a minimum of $18 an hour agreed for current Cast Members by the end of the year. It includes annual increases every year of contract, retroactive pay, and entry level rates will reach $18/hour by 2024.

As can be seen in the tweet below by reporter Scott Gustin, 97% of the 12,500 members voted yes to this agreement. It will certainly be welcome news to Cast Members after many months of negotiations regarding pay and benefits for the coming years.

March 24 - Negotiations between the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) which represents approximately 45,000 Walt Disney World Cast Members and Disney took place yesterday afternoon to try to end the dispute on Walt Disney World Cast Member pay and benefits.

The STCU was asking for the minimum wage to be increased from $15/hr to $18/hr which would be an initial rise of $3/hr, with an eventual plan to raise this to $20/hr.

Disney Cast Members, Disney
Image: Disney

According to Click Orlando, an agreement has now been reached which is still subject to approval by union members. STCU President Matt Hollis said, “Securing an $18 minimum hourly rate this year, increasing the overall economic value of Disney’s original offer and ensuring full back pay for every worker are the priorities union members were determined to fight for,”

As part of this agreement, Union workers will also see the $18 minimum wage increase to $20 by October 2026. This is certainly a positive outcome for Walt Disney World Cast Members which not only secures a necessary pay increase for them but confirms improvements to medical coverage and tuition for higher education. It allows them to be confident in making decisions to improve their lives and those of their families for now and the future.

Walt Disney World Resort President, Jeff Vahle made a statement saying, “Our cast members are central to Walt Disney World’s enduring magic, which is why we are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement. Disney is proud to offer an industry-leading employment package that includes comprehensive benefits and affordable medical coverage, in addition to 100 percent paid tuition for higher education for hourly employees through the Disney Aspire program. With the support of the unions, we anticipate cast members will approve this new agreement.”

The STCU will recommend that union members vote to approve the agreement next Wednesday. If the members approve the deal the pay increase will go into effect immediately. The agreement includes retroactive pay and staggered increases that will give all full-time employees an hourly rate of $18/hour by end of year.

Cast Member, Disney
Image: Disney

In mid-March, there was news that the STCU had canceled further negotiations with Walt Disney World after they refused to consider an increase on their previous wage proposal and their removal of proposed retroactive pay for many Cast Members. 

A "Rally for a Raise" was organised by the STCU for 5:00PM on March 16, near the Magic Kingdom Cast Member parking on Reams Road to try to seek public support. It appears that STCU certainly did the right thing to hold out for what they were asking for.

The current Cast Member contract expired in October 2022 with the new one appearing to run until October 2027.

Cast Member, Disney

Now with the news that Walt Disney World Cast Members are to see a rise of the minimum wage to $18/hr by the end of 2023, Disney will soon be outdoing Universal when it comes to employee pay.

We heard back in mid-February that effective June 4, Universal is increasing the starting base rate for Team Members to $17/hr. As well as this, additional starting rates across the company will also be increased. 

From the letter that was sent to Team Members from President & Chief Operating Officer, Universal Orlando Resort, Karen Irwin, it informed of the wage increase as well as a list of further improvements which include the elevation of the 401K match and tuition reimbursement programs, added compassionate leave, doubled parental leave, enhanced family planning benefits and ticket availability. We also see that Universal are upgrading break areas and restrooms and have plans to improve Team Member dining.

Universal Team Members, Universal
Image: Universal 

Now, when directly comparing Universal to Disney with this new deal in place, it appears that Universal will not be valuing its Team Members as much as Disney are valuing their Cast Members.

We are very aware of Disney's efforts under the helm of CEO Bob Iger of cost cutting but Cast Member pay surely shouldn't be an area that feels the pinch. We are hoping that Disney and the STCU will finalise this new agreement on Cast Member pay for the future.

Cast Member, Disney
Image: Disney

The Disney Vs Universal comparison is something that will always exist and has been discussed in recent months in regards to their approaches to the FastPass system, Epic Universe, guest experience and now pay conditions for employees. This increase in minimum wage to $18/hr for all Cast Members by the end of 2023 would certainly go a long way in improving Cast Member satisfaction.

We asked you, do you think Disney should increase the minimum wage for Cast Members to $18/hr? Based on current results 88% said yes to the raising of the minimum wage. Let us know your thoughts by voting in our polls below or by leaving us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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