The Disneyland union Workers United Local 50 began negotiations with the company on Tuesday to discuss contract terms in the wake of the first phase of what will be a total of 28,000 companywide layoffs.
The meeting came a week after Chairman of Disney Parks Josh D’Amaro sent out an email notifying employees that the lengthy and continued shutdown of their parks, along with limited capacity, has forced them to fire workers.
Out of the 7,796 Disneyland workers, also known as Cast Members, to be laid off within the theme park, 37% or 2,858 are part of the Workers United 50 Local union. In a statement released on its Facebook page, the union expressed particular concern towards the 436 full-time cast members being laid off, as they would be one of the only to fire full-time employees. The details released are tentative and may be updated as negations continue.
A breakdown of how many people would be laid off in each category was posted to the union’s Facebook page. Part-time workers would make up 83% of layoffs, 20% of which being Quick Service cashiers.
Workers United 50 specifically serves cast members working in the food and beverages department, complicating negotiations.
The union contract states that layoffs should be done in order of seniority: those who have been working for the shortest amount of time should be laid off first, then proceed in ascending order. In this case, seniority only counts total days of service, not total hours worked. Thus, part-time members with greater seniority have a greater chance of keeping their job over a full-time member with lower seniority.
“Seniority is the driving force of what we do, and that’s how the contract lines it out; but when you have 200 people working in a restaurant amongst 12 job classifications, how is that really going to play out” said Chris Duarte, President of Workers United Local 50.
While non-union, salaried and executive members of Disneyland are being notified of their layoffs, union workers will not know until November 1. This will give union leaders a week before then to complete negotiations with the company concerning how terminations will be executed.
Tuesday was just the start. The recent meeting conducted on Thursday served to ask questions and establish common ground regarding contract terms, some of which were drafted 20 or 30 years ago.
Disneyland announced that all terminated cast members would be able to retain their benefits until the end of the year. However, the union hopes to negotiate terms for tertiary benefits, like those whose college tuition is being paid for through the Disney Aspire program.
The email sent by Chairman of Disney Parks Josh D’Amaro notified employees about layoffs but did not state how many people would be laid off nor in which categories these layoffs would occur.
“Disneyland hasn’t sent out any official emails with the specifics of what’s happening to us,” said Victor Montano, a Disneyland cast member part of the union. “Everything feels really sudden, and no one knows what’s going on.”
“We’re here as cast members taking on the role as leaders for the union and advocate for everyone and what is best for everyone,” said Duarte. “If Disneyland says something and we disagree, we’re going to push back on behalf of everyone, and you don’t get that if you’re not in a union.”
An official Workers United Local 50 meeting will be held on October 14 at 11 a.m. on Facebook live to update cast members on what is going on in terms of layoffs and to answer questions.
The union is also providing cast members with pop-up food banks. Dates for the banks and other information are available on the Workers United Local 50 Facebook page.