Disney unions announce plans to help cast members 'out of poverty'

Many cast members earn less than $11 an hour

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Disney union leaders announced plans Wednesday to help its cast members "out of poverty" with new wage negotiations.

Six unions make up the Service Trades Council Union that represents Disney cast members. A news release from the union said they plan to ask for increases in pay, and many Central Florida hospitality workers struggle with poverty.

The union that represents 36,000 workers at Walt Disney World unveiled an outline of what it calls its 'Path Out of Poverty.' The plan seeks to increase the starting wage for union members, which right now stands at $10 an hour. Half of the 36,000 union members make less than $11.

Ivette Garcia works as a housekeeper at an Animal Kingdom resort. She said she struggles to make ends meet on $10.50 an hour while raising three grandchildren.

“It's not enough,” Garcia said. “It's not enough to work in Orlando. It's really not enough, and rent keeps going high, and I live paycheck to paycheck.”

Garcia said she and the other union members are fighting for what they deserve.

“We make their dreams come true. We'd like our dreams to come true as well,” she said.

Union leaders Wednesday would not release exactly how much or how soon that they would like to see it increased, but the outline suggests gradually increasing it to somewhere around $15 an hour. 

The last pay increase in 2014 boosted their starting pay from $8.03 to $10

"The city of Seattle raised the minimum wage to $15 effective this year. The state of California raises the minimum wage over time to $15 in 2022," part of the plan read. "To afford the average 1-bedroom apartment in Orlando a worker needs to earn at least $15.87 per hour."

Union leaders said they will give Disney the specifics of the plan in August when wage negotiations begin.

"We plan to put forth an overall employment package that is fair and equitable for the cast and the company," a Disney World spokesperson said in response to the upcoming negotiations.

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