Disneyland ‘cast members’ file petition to form labor union at California theme parks

Mickey, Goofy and Donald want to work in a unionized Disney clubhouse.

The “cast members” who don the costumes of the beloved characters at Disney’s California theme parks filed a petition to have a vote on whether to join the Actors’ Equity Association, the union shop which represents live performers such as Broadway actors and even strippers.

The group organizing the petition said that it had amassed signatures from more than two-thirds of the 1,700 Disneyland employees as of Thursday.

Workers who help bring Disneyland characters to life announce they’ve collected enough signatures to support their push for a union. AP
Gloria Alvarado, director of the Orange County Labor Federation, with Disneyland workers. AP

“The cast members who bring the characters and parades to life have been non-union since Disneyland Resort opened in the 1950s and have watched other workers in the park unionize all around them,” said Equity President Kate Shindle.

The cast members’ wages were raised from $20 an hour to $24.15 an hour in January – a 20.8% increase. The following month, a union organizing drive failed to garner a sufficient number of signatures.

The Anaheim cast members are looking to duplicate the success of their counterparts at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where 32,000 hourly workers managed to get a raise of up to $3 an hour last year after ratifying a collective bargaining agreement with the company.

Disneyland employs more than 21,000 cast members represented by more than a dozen unions in various sectors including retail, food service workers and security guards.

Disneyland, the company’s oldest park, was the world’s second-most visited theme park in 2022, hosting 16.8 million people. AP
Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity, said she was confident the California workers would win the election through the NLRB. AP

But the performers who dress up as famous Disney characters and interact with guests are not represented by a union.

“These performers, and the hosts, leads and trainers who create magic alongside them, know that their lives — as well as the guest experience at Disneyland — can be improved through collective bargaining,” Shindle said.

“They deserve a voice in their workplace, and meaningful negotiations over wages, benefits and working conditions.”

A Disney spokesperson said: “We support our cast members’ right to a confidential vote that recognizes their individual choices.”

With Post wires