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Disneyland Workers Vote Down Accord : Labor: Members of five unions may be polled again soon to decide a similar three-year offer. Talks are to resume next week.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Amid concern about pay and retirement benefits, Disneyland workers rejected a proposed three-year contract Friday that would have given them a 3% pay raise for each of the next three years.

Workers represented by five unions under the park’s master services agreement rejected the proposed pact by a vote of 848-805. Walt Disney Co. and union negotiators were expected to resume talks next week, which could lead to another vote within days.

“We realize it was a close margin,” said Disneyland spokesman Tom Brocato. “The company and the union are going to meet next week.”

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Three years ago, workers also narrowly rejected a pact on the first vote, but then approved virtually the same contract on a second vote within days.

Employees rejected the latest proposed agreement because of concerns over such issues as a reduction in medical benefits for retirees and work-rule changes for the most senior workers, called “leads,” said Tom Ravenscroft, a shop steward for Teamsters Local 495.

“It’s not really a fair contract,” said Ravenscroft, a 35-year employee at Disneyland. “Not all of us were happy with it.”

Other workers expressed similar concerns.

Disneyland, said one, is trying to mirror the contract it has at Walt Disney World in Florida, where leads are increasingly being converted to salaried workers who don’t receive overtime pay. “They can work them like dogs and not pay overtime to them,” the worker said.

Nevertheless, the worker said, she expects Disneyland will resubmit essentially the same contract to employees for a vote, given the relatively close margin.

The master agreement covers about 3,000 members of the park’s work force, which ranges from 9,000 in winters to 12,000 in summers. Those covered under the contract include all the ride operators, food servers and janitors, among others. Disneyland is Orange County’s largest private employer.

Besides the Teamsters, other unions are the Hotel and Restaurant Workers, Bakery and Confection Workers and Service Employees International locals. Disneyland workers who are covered under the previous contract earn $7 to $12 an hour.

Management and labor were far apart until a breakthrough came during a marathon bargain session Sept. 15. A proposal was agreed upon at about 4 a.m., four hours after the old contract expired.

Despite its storied reputation for gaiety and frivolity, Disneyland has seen the kind of downsizing and rapid change that has gripped other industries. The park, in the face of one of its worst years ever last year, made selective layoffs and offered inducements for senior workers to retire. Workers complain that the trend has continued, even though the park is racking up record attendance this year.

The last parkwide strike at Disneyland was in 1984 and lasted 22 days.


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