Disney union announces $18 minimum wage in new agreement proposal with company

Minimum wage for workers would increase to $20 by 2026 under agreement

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Union workers held a news conference on Thursday afternoon to discuss the outcome of contract negotiations with Walt Disney World, according to a release by the Service Trades Council Union.

The union, which represents about 45,000 Disney workers, has been pushing for an $18 minimum wage for employees amid inflation and rising costs of living, union leaders announced.

In February, the company reached out to the union with a contract offer that included $20 per hour wage for full-time, non-tipped STCU roles and a nearly 10% average pay increase within the first year.

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However, union workers voted against the proposal, choosing instead to continue hashing out terms of the agreement with Disney. Disney workers are now set to hold a news conference following negotiations on Thursday.

On Thursday, the union announced that it reached an agreement with Walt Disney World, stating that the agreement — which is still subject to approval by union members — would give all current theme park workers a raise between $5.50 and $8.60 by the end of the contract, with the first $3 in raises arriving this year.

“Securing an $18 minimum hourly rate this year, increasing the overall economic value of Disney’s original offer and ensuring full back pay for every worker are the priorities union members were determined to fight for,” STCU President Matt Hollis said.

STCU leaders said that under the agreement, workers in jobs that currently earn a minimum of $15 would see that rate rise retroactively to $16 as of Oct. 1, 2022. The agreement would also increase that rate to $17 upon ratification and $18 by December 2022, the union stated.

While the agreement would net an $18 minimum wage for union workers this year, the proposal also aims to increase the minimum wage for current workers to $20.50 by October 2026, union leaders said. Workers hired after Dec. 3, 2023 would instead see their minimum wage increase to a flat $20 by October 2026.

“Knowing that cast members’ wages are going to be changed in a significant means and their ability to make decisions for themselves and their families and the ability to improve their lives is truly a fantastic feeling and accomplishment,” Hollis said.

Union leaders said that the following roles would receive wage increases, with raises retroactive to October 2022.

  • Union Housekeepers: increase from $17 to $20 immediately, ending at $24 in October 2026
  • Union Dishwashers: increase from $15 to $18 immediately, ending at $22 in October 2026
  • Cook 2 (Union Prep Cook): increase from $16.40 to $20 immediately, ending at $24 in October 2026
  • Cook 1 (Union Line Cook): increase from $19 to $23.10 immediately, ending at $27.10 in October 2026
  • Union Chef Assistant: increase from $20 to $24.60 immediately, ending at $28.60 in October 2026
  • Union Bus Drivers: increase from $18 to $20.50 immediately, ending at $24.50 in October 2026

The agreement will also include eight weeks of paid child bonding leave and increases to many hourly premiums, according to STCU.

The president of Walt Disney World Resort sent a statement in response to the union negotiations.

“Our cast members are central to Walt Disney World’s enduring magic, which is why we are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement. Disney is proud to offer an industry-leading employment package that includes comprehensive benefits and affordable medical coverage, in addition to 100 percent paid tuition for higher education for hourly employees through the Disney Aspire program. With the support of the unions, we anticipate cast members will approve this new agreement.”

Jeff Vahle, President of the Walt Disney World Resort

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About the Authors:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.