LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -

Walt Disney World cast members approved a new five-and-a-half-year agreement Friday between the company and the Service Trades Council Union, which increases non-tipped minimum start rates for more than 20,000 full-time STCU-represented cast to $9 per hour this month.

Disney World officials said the new rate will be retroactive to March 30 -- based on current job classification and new rate of pay -- and will increase to $10 per hour in July 2016.

"I am proud we will be able to continue to provide our cast an industry-leading employment package that reflects the important role they play in our guests' most special memories," said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "Having started my career here as an hourly cast member, I know how crucial all roles are to the success of our resort."

In April, Disney proposed the increases and has been working closely with the unions to reach an agreement.

"I am proud of the agreement we reached with Disney," said Ed Chambers, president of STCU. "It will set a new bar for the Central Florida hospitality industry."

Walt Disney World's agreement with the STCU, the largest union at the resort, is effective through September 2019, officials said.