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


Workers demanded pay raises and better work conditions for 2,100 workers.

Time period

14 August, 2008 to 5 December, 2011


United States

Location City/State/Province

Anaheim, California

Location Description

Disneyland Park and Resort
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 2nd segment

  • Union workers stage first walkout in protest

Methods in 3rd segment

  • Workers went on a one-day strike to voice their discontent

Methods in 4th segment

  • Vigils were held in solidarity with fasting workers
  • The fast (fast of moral pressure, hunger strike, satyagrahic fast)›7 workers began a hunger strike, which was picked up by 7 different workers after 7 days

Methods in 5th segment

  • Tom Morello, lead singer of Rage Against the Machine, played in solidarity with the striking workers at a protest.

Methods in 6th segment

Segment Length

6 months


Ada Briceno, leader of Unite Here 681


Not known

External allies

Not known

Involvement of social elites

Tom Morello, lead singer of Rage Against the Machine


Disneyland Parks and Resort

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Not known

Repressive Violence

Not known


Economic Justice



Group characterization

Workers at the Disneyland resorts
ranging from character impersonators to custodians

Groups in 2nd Segment

Unite Here! local 11
Unite Here 681

Segment Length

6 months

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

6 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

10 out of 10 points

Database Narrative

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. 


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