ORLANDO, Fla. – Due to a lack of crowds caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Walt Disney Co. is expected to lay off thousands of workers between California and Central Florida.
Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic began spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.
In a letter to employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” exacerbated the situation for the company.
Most cast members have been furloughed since March, anxiously awaiting a callback.
According to the Service Trades Council Union, which represents multiple unions at the theme parks, 21,627 full-time cast members and 3,877 part-time cast members have been recalled to their jobs during Disney’s phased reopening, but these numbers are nowhere close to Disney’s full employee attendance as most of their workforce is still furloughed.
Things took a turn for the worst in September when Disney notified the STCU that they had made the decision to change the employment status of thousands of workers from furlough to layoff.
The decision would affect 5,299 full-time and 8,857 part-time cast members.
After days of negotiations, the union said that full-time employees would not be laid off. However, the same could not be said for part-time employees.
For those under the union and currently full-time, the STCU and Walt Disney Co. agreed that there will be no permanent layoffs. What does that mean?
It means that any cast members who are laid off will retain their employment, their seniority, rate of pay including any scheduled increases and the right to return back to a previous job with the company until Oct. 1, 2022.
In addition, any cast members represented by the STCU will have priority employment ahead of any new hires. That is if they so wish to return to the company.
Laid-off part-time employees will also have a contractual right to be recalled to their old jobs until Oct. 1, 2022.
“These are unprecedented times. It is unfortunate anytime a worker is laid off and the mass layoffs that Disney is facing are extremely difficult for 1000′s of Cast Members. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure their speedy return to work," Matt Hollis, President- Service Trades Council Union said in a news release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.