Contract negotiations resume between Florida Disney workers’ union and company

Union negotiations with Disney are expected to run through Thursday.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Union leaders returned to the bargaining table with Disney Wednesday in hopes of figuring out a new contract.

The negotiations began at 9 a.m. at the Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Resort.

Diego Henry joined several other Disney workers to monitor the meeting’s developments.

“I’m very interested to see what they come back and actually propose this time,” Henry said. “I’m hoping that they come back and give us what they want or if they want to be really magical, come back and give us more.”

The talks come after 96% of the Service Trades Council Union turned down Walt Disney World’s latest contract offer, which would have given employees a $1-an-hour raise and would have raised wages to a minimum of $20 an hour in the next five years.

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“Interest rates are skyrocketing, groceries are skyrocketing. A dollar is going to evaporate faster than the water on the Fourth of July here in the state of Florida,” Henry said.

Union members told News 6 they would like to see an initial raise of $2-an-hour and an increase of another $1-an-hour the following year.

Disney spokesperson Andrea Finger also told News 6 that the company provided an option to accelerate wage increases, which would bring all current non-tipped cast members up to at least $17 per hour upon ratification — and many more increasing to $20 per hour within the first year.

“We’ve provided the union with options that would set all non-tipped cast members on a path to $20 an hour and provide opportunities for immediate increases, and we look forward to continuing discussions,” Finger said.

Meanwhile, Universal Orlando has announced an increase in base pay to $17-an-hour starting in June.

“We aspire to be the employer of choice in this market, providing an inclusive environment where tam members are proud to work, have the opportunity to grow and feel a real sense of purpose and belonging,” a Universal Orlando spokesperson said.

Workers with Disney said they hoped the move would influence a change in their favor at the bargaining table.

“We need to continue to make that magic,” union member Ivy Mestre said. “For that reason, we fight to get whatever we need to survive and continue to make that magic.”

Union negotiations with Disney are expected to run through Thursday.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.