Disneyland is Under Fire For Treatment of Cast Members During Pandemic

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Disney recently leveled comments at Scarlett Johansson over her lawsuit against them for “breach of contract” in regards to her compensation for the ‘Black Widow’ film that was not a theatrical exclusive.

In their statement they referred to her actions as “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Now it seems Disney themselves are being called out by their treatment of Disneyland Cast Members during the pandemic.  So it’s possible they might know a thing or two about “callous disregard.”

What is Disney Being Accused of Now?

According to labor disputes and a video put out by a More Perfect Union on Youtube, Disney is being accused of taking CARES money to rehire workers, but they have allegedly cut hours, cut pay, and taken away seniority so those who have years in are being paid the same as new workers.

Disneyland workers are revealing the dark side of the “happiest place on Earth.” The park laid off tens of thousands of custodial staff and cast members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they’re trying to cut wages and all benefits for returning workers. Workers say they can barely survive.”

The video, which takes the side of Cast Members and their union, states:

“Disney got half a billion dollars in tax payer aid during the pandemic and agreed to rehire laid off workers at their previous salary and benefits. But after reopening in April, Disney tricked their own laid-off staff by offering them similar roles with lower pay, fewer hours and no benefits.

Workers who signed the new deal also gave up their seniority. Disney is filling other roles with subcontractors instead of original staff.

Disneyland cut 1/3 of the custodial staff despite the need for increased cleaning during a pandemic.

The union is in the process of negotiating a new contract. But works say Disneyland’s offer is unacceptable.”

This video is alleging that many of the Cast Members are behind in bills and didn’t have the money to not accept the guidelines for returning to work, so they were tricked into it and they lost hours, money, and benefits. If true it seems “especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now it is important to note that some of the items they are talking about are things like “no increases in paid days off” or “no increase in some of the premiums.” Which are things that unions usually bargain for and don’t get. Not everything is as terrible as Cast Members losing seniority.

A Previous Class Action Lawsuit

Just last month a California judge did certify a Class Action Lawsuit by Cast Members at Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel. The suit alleges violations of the Anaheim Living Wage Law.

(The lawsuit was started back in 2019 before the pandemic. The video is talking about issues that have occurred in addition to what the class action lawsuit was already claiming.)

Orange County Superior Court Judge William D. Claster has certified a class
of workers employed at Disney theme parks and hotels in Anaheim who claim that Disney and Sodexo violated the law when they refused to pay their hourly employees a living wage. As a result, the lawsuit will proceed as a class action on behalf of thousands of Disney employees andhundreds of Sodexo employees. Measure L, approved by Anaheim voters in 2018, required that Anaheim Resort employers that receive city tax subsidies—and their subcontractors—pay employees a living wage. Starting January 1, 2019, the Measure L required living wage was $15 per hour, and it is currently $17 per hour.

The lawsuit seems to be focused on the tax subsidy that Anaheim gave Disney for construction on Disney California Adventure and a parking garage and if that money was for a direct city subsidy. Meanwhile they argue Disney isn’t paying the living wage they must under Measure L.

Workers claim that the City of Anaheim gave Disney a city tax subsidy in connection with the over $200 million dollars in public bond proceeds that were provided to Disney to help finance the construction of California Adventure and a parking garage to serve the new theme park, which were paid back using Disney’s taxes which would have otherwise gone to the people of Anaheim for streets, libraries and public security.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Randy Renick said: ‘Disney has benefited for years from public monies from the City of Anaheim; yet it refuses to pay its employees the required living wage. This defiance of Measure L is furthering the very real struggles of its workers. Does this sound like the happiest workplace on earth?’

Again, this lawsuit was before the current issues mentioned in the video. Since the filing in 2019 and after the pandemic, Cast Members and the unions are now alleging that Disney has again not treated them well during the pandemic.

Disney’s Possible Double Standard

I also want to note that during the pandemic executives took temporary pay cuts, but those were reinstated and some executives got new contracts with performance bonuses listed in the millions. Disney had eliminated such bonuses in 2020, then signed at least one new contract with performance bonuses in December, 2020 with their CFO.

It does all seem to indicate that there are a different set of rules for some employees than for others. Welcome to corporate America and for all Disney’s posturing about “family” and “Disney difference” they really don’t seem any different than other corporations.

Again, the video is from the perspective of Cast Members and the union, but there does seem to be a pattern of behavior from Disney. Maybe they shouldn’t imply other people have “callous disregard” over a pandemic, when they’ve seemingly had “callous disregard” for quite awhile now, that may have gotten worse due to a pandemic.

Now onto the announcement of their new AP program for California that will likely be less for more money.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: More Perfect Union, Hadsellstormer Press Release, LA Times, A friend


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