More Disney employees to return to work soon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – As Walt Disney World theme parks prepare to reopen next month thousands of Disney cast members will soon be called back to their jobs, labor union officials said.

Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362, outlined the reopening plans in a video posted on the union's Facebook page.

The union represents attractions employees, custodial, water slide operators, park greeters, auto plaza workers and vacation planners.

“[It] is a very different Disney World than you all worked at back in March, and it's because of the need for safety," Clinton told union members.

All full time attractions and custodial employees will be recalled, along with a "high number" of part-time union employees, according to Clinton.

“No seasonal worker will be working at Disney anytime soon," he said. “If anyone thinks that college program workers are coming back anytime soon, they’re mistaken."

That includes members of the international college program, which provides cultural representatives to the various nations represented at Epcot's World Showcase pavilions.

"World Showcase attractions will be fully staffed by domestic attraction workers," said Clinton.

Disney has announced that Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks will reopen to the public on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

Union members who work at those parks could begin returning to their job sites as early as June 14, with the recall completed by June 28, said Clinton.

“We don’t know if your specific attraction is going to open up and how it will look,” Clinton told union members. “Will it be closed throughout the day for periodic cleaning? We do not know yet. Disney has not shared those details with us. What we do know is that there is going to be a massive need for attractions workers across property.”

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That needs includes a new position described as "queue monitoring", the union indicated.

“It’s not park greeters entering people into the parks, but making sure people are socially distanced while they wait in line to have their temperatures checked by AdventHealth," Clinton said.

Union workers who contract COVID-19 will continued to be paid, and Disney will waive its attendance policy for employees who have symptoms so they can stay home, Clinton said.

All employees and visitors will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“Any scenario that could create large crowds… the company is not going to do it," said Clinton. "There are not going to be parades. There are not going to be nighttime spectaculars, including fireworks. There will be no playgrounds.”

Disney employees will also be instructed to no longer handle guests' phones or cameras to help them snap a photo.

"If a guest comes up to you and says, ‘Hey, would you take our picture in front of the castle?’ [Disney is] going to train you how to politely say, “No, I can’t do that',” Clinton explained to his members.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom will open July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades. Mike joined News 6 just as Florida officials began counting hanging chads in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. Since then, he has covered some of the biggest news events in Central Florida.