Employees at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth' Demand a Higher Minimum Wage

Employees at the "Happiest Place on Earth" are unhappy, demanding Disneyland Resort to pay a "living wage."

A coalition of unions representing Disneyland workers says it has collected enough signatures to put a ballot measure before Anaheim voters that would require Walt Disney Co. to pay the resort workers a "living wage," it was reported Tuesday.

The coalition of 11 labor unions that have been pushing for higher wages at Disneyland Resort, which includes the California Adventure Park and nearby hotels, says it plans to present a petition with about 20,000 signatures to the Anaheim city clerk's office Tuesday morning.

If enough signatures are verified, the measure on the November ballot would ask voters to require Disney and other large Anaheim employers that accept city subsidies to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, with salaries rising $1 an hour every Jan. 1 through 2022. Once the wages reach $18 an hour, annual raises would then be tied to the cost of living.

A Disneyland representative deferred comment to a coalition of business groups in Anaheim that opposes the ordinance. In the past, Disney officials have said that the average annual pay for hourly workers at the resort is $37,000, which calculates to about $17.80 an hour.

Todd Ament, chief executive of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, called the proposed living wage ordinance a "job killer" that would deter developers from building hotels in the city for fear of having to pay higher wages.

"It definitely will kill some construction projects already planned," said Ament, who added that if the ordinance appears on the ballot, the chamber plans to campaign against it.

"This measure is a job killer with severe unintended consequences on the working families of Anaheim. If enacted, this policy would immediately kill 4,000 jobs and would cost the City of Anaheim hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue over the next 30 years. It lays the groundwork for sweeping financial impacts to our City’s businesses, putting future jobs and investment at risk," he said. 

The unions say they are primarily targeting the Disneyland Resort, the city's largest employer with about 30,000 workers, because they say Disney is profiting from millions in taxpayer subsidies while employees struggle to pay their bills.

"The National Restaurant Association supports public policies that strengthen and enhance the business climate and opportunities for employees. However, this ballot proposal would do just the opposite...This proposal would have a negative impact on the local economy and job creation for Anaheim workers," National Restaurant Association said in a statement.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us