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Holdout unions approve contract, Disneyland averts strike

The Harbor Boulevard entrance to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.
(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Disneyland heads into the holidays without any picket lines outside its gates following a second contract vote that finally found favor with two remaining unions.

The Master Services Council, a coalition of four major unions that represents 9,500 workers at the Disneyland Resort, bargained with the company for months before reaching a tentative agreement in November.

All member unions ratified the contract at Disney’s California Adventure during the initial Nov. 17 vote, but Disneyland saw an unprecedented split.

Teamsters Local 495, which is the largest member of the coalition, and Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West soundly rejected the company’s proposal at Disneyland, which included pay raises to $18.50 an hour by 2023 and seniority-based bonuses.

The holdout unions represent ride operators, parking and custodial staff respectively at the theme park.

Union leaders met with the company, which agreed to present its “last and final” offer for another round of voting, though it wasn’t obligated to. After all the votes were tallied by Dec. 3, both unions ratified the contract and averted a strike.

“The Disneyland Resort is pleased that cast members of the Disneyland Park represented by the Master Services Council ratified a new collective bargaining agreement,” said a Disneyland spokesperson. “Cast members from Disney California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney District previously ratified the same offer on Nov. 17th. We are proud of the competitive wage and benefit offer, which provides historical increases over three years, continuing to outpace the California minimum wage.”

Initially, the first round rejection sent a wave of confusion through the park’s workers.

Two other Disneyland unions, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 and Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union Local 85, also comprise the Master Services Council but didn’t have to cast their ballots a second time.

In an update to its members, UFCW Local 324 cited a “large majority” having voted to approve the contract on Nov. 17. The company considered the union-specific tally to be a ratification.

Ahead of the rare revote, SEIU-USWW deemed the original proposal as the “highest general wage increases ever negotiated with Disney.” And, although members rejected ratification by 60 percent on Nov. 17, the tally fell short of the 75% needed to authorize a strike, per the union’s Constitution and bylaws.

Another strike authorization vote would be needed. If workers did vote to go out on strike, they wouldn’t be entitled to California unemployment insurance.

Meanwhile, some Teamster members renewed a push for wage increases to $20 an hour that they’d hoped would have been part of the original offer.

“I feel that all of us at Disneyland deserve more,” said Gabriel Ramos, a Teamster and Disneyland ride operator who voted no both times. “Many people voted yes the second time because they saw that the union wasn’t prepared for a strike, even though the majority of the members wanted to strike.”

The Disneyland Resort’s proposed contract remained identical. The minimum wage increase to $17.50 an hour would be pulled forward to Nov. 17 instead of taking effect June 2022.

Had the unions rejected the offer for a second time, workers were told that seniority-based bonuses and the retroactive raises were poised to be scrapped.

But more than two weeks of uncertainty came to an end when both holdout unions changed course and ratified the contract in joining the rest of their Master Services Council counterparts.

The early pay raises are effective for both Disney theme parks.

Disneyland hasn’t seen a major labor strike since 1984 when thousands of workers picketed outside of the theme park for 22 days in what remains the largest work stoppage in the theme park’s history.

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