Children the world over were undoubtedly troubled by news images of their favorite Disney characters being carted off to jail in handcuffs on Friday. Last week, police in Anaheim, California arrested 32 individuals, including Minnie Mouse, Tinkerbell, and Snow White, during a labor protest
staged by hotel workers in the Disney resort. After a march to the gates of Disneyland, the protestors were cited for several traffic violations and failure to obey a police officer. The demonstration was arranged by union workers in three of Disneyland’s hotels, who dispute alleged moves by the Disney corporation
to cut back benefits, full time jobs, and keep wages stagnant.
Leaders of the Unite Here Local 681 Union state that Disney has proposed switching to a higher proportion of part time jobs with limited benefits to cut back on health care costs. The union also argues that Disney’s offers will make health care unaffordable for most of the service workers at the resorts, while keeping wages several dollars less per hour than other hotels in the region. Ada Briceno, union president, explains that the organization had agreed to lower wages in exchange for a free health care fund, but now that the initial contract has expired, Disney wants to eliminate the free plan for new hires and raise the number of working hours necessary to qualify for the benefits.
Disney and Unite Here Local 681 have been in talks for months, but Disney chides the group for spending more time on public spectacles than negotiating the details of the new agreement. But, Lisa Haines, a spokeswoman for Disney, seems optimistic that the dispute can be peacefully resolved, stating:
“We do remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement that’s both fair and equitable, providing that union leadership is reasonable and realistic in its approach.”
Still, the protestors chant: Mickey, shame on you.