Members of the Service Trades Council Union on Friday overwhelming voted to ratify a new contract for 25,000 full-time cast members at Walt Disney World Resort. Bargaining representatives from both sides tentatively settled the agreement in mid-July. Friday’s vote of the membership — with more than 67% voting in favor — makes it official. Local 362’s voting membership approved the Agreement with 91% approval. This is the first time in history the Disney membership ratified an Agreement on the first vote.
The deal includes unprecedented wage increases, limits employees’ healthcare costs and protects cast members’ defined benefit pension plan.
The agreement lifts starting hourly pay from the current minimum of $8.03 to $9 in 2014, $9.50 in 2015 and $10 in 2016. Workers who are above those minimum rates will receive $.50 per hour increases in each of the 3 years. Most significantly, the agreement calls for no increase in employees’ weekly health insurance contributions in 2015. That freeze in employees’ healthcare costs is the first in many years.
“I am proud to have reached such a positive agreement that significantly raises wages for Disney cast members,” said Eric Clinton, President of UNITE HERE Local 362.
For UNITE HERE Locals 737 and Local 362, whose unions represent more than 60% of the full-time workers in the Service Trades Council Union, one of the most exciting aspects of the bargaining was the involvement of more workers than ever before.
The two UNITE HERE unions are made up of custodians, housekeepers, attractions attendants, and food and beverage employees, many of whom were participating in union negotiations for the first time. One thousand workers paraded near Downtown Disney earlier this summer, demonstrating enthusiasm for a new contract.
Negotiations have been on going since workers’ contract expired in March. Thursday’s tentative settlement came just minutes before the contract extension was set to expire at 11:59 PM yesterday.