U.S. Disney workers win campaign for higher wages, health care, 2008-2011

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Time Period:  
14 August
5 December
Location and Goals
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
Anaheim, California
Location Description: 
Disneyland Park and Resort
Workers demanded pay raises and better work conditions for 2,100 workers.

On 31 January 2008, the Walt Disney corporation's workers represented by the union Unite Here Local 11 found themselves without a labor contract. Workers held meetings with management to discuss new contract plans, but the talks fell through. Most importantly, the workers hoped to secure a health-care plan in which they would not have to contribute their own wages. However, Disney favored a health care plan that would include worker contributions.

On 14 August 2008, thousands of Disney workers took to the streets and marched from Disney-owned Paradise Pier hotel to the California Disneyland entrance. Twenty-eight demonstrators were arrested after they stopped traffic in front of the park.

Union workers and Disney representatives met several times in the next few weeks, but no new contract was agreed upon. On 6 December 2009, workers staged a walkout, leaving their positions in the middle of the day in protest.

Seeing that they needed to be more extreme in their attempt to affect change, on 10 February 2010, workers organized and began a weeklong hunger strike, with seven employees, two union representatives, and one child of a Disney worker all participating.

Later that year, on 10 June 2010, union hotel workers decided to go on strike for one day. After another year of protracted talks, in May 2011, Disney agreed to pay raises for 2,100 workers.

After another series of talks, on 5 December 2011, the Disney hotel union approved an employment agreement, which guaranteed a multi-year contract and a union-backed healthcare plan. The workers also won a guarantee of a 3% increase in salary each year for the duration of the contract agreement.

The campaign ended with the workers satisfied in their efforts to affect change in their working conditions.

Research Notes
Braun, Eli. 19 February 2010. Waging Nonviolence. <http://wagingnonviolence.org/2010/02/disney-workers-fast-for-health-care/>.

Quick, Sonya. "Around Disney." 15 August 2008. Orange County Register. <http://ocresort.ocregister.com/2008/08/15/28-arrested-in-protest-against-disney-hotels/1221/>.

Shelton, Leigh. 10 February 2010. Unite Here! <http://www.unitehere.org/presscenter/release.php?ID=3907>.

Tully, Sarah. 05 December 2011. Orange County Register. <http://ocresort.ocregister.com/2011/12/05/timeline-of-disney-hotel-union-contract-dispute/105432/>.

—. "Around Disney." 03 February 2010. Orange County Register.


Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
John Pontillo, 17/03/2013