Hundreds rally at Disneyland’s front gates
As little progress is made in negotiations
Hundreds of Disneyland cast members and their supporters marched through the streets of Anaheim July 3, carrying signs and shouting their demands for a living and better working conditions.
The half-mile trek began near one of the busiest intersection in Anaheim and ended at Disneyland’s Harbor Blvd. entrance, passing some of the park’s most famous icons along the way. The purple shirts of the SEIU and yellow shirts worn by UFCW supporters colored most of the long and winding mass of activists as police escorted them through traffic lights and kept traffic at a safe distance.
As they snaked past restaurants, hotels and other local hangouts, it was clear that the boisterous group had captured the attention of those within ear’s shot.
“Disney, Disney , you’re no good…. Began one of the more popular chants among union activists. Those words are seldom associated with the theme park known as the “happiest place on eartrh,” which naturally caused many of the onlookers to ask the protesters directly why they had taken to the streets.
Most of marchers were ready to hand onlookers a flyer that listed some of their grievances and more than a few read the material intently, looking back at the marchers with surprise.
All three of the Local’s top executives joined the march, adding to the many voices of discontent that were heard throughout the event—voices that seem to grow louder with every assembly.
“Disneyland has never experienced this kind of sustained public scrutiny and criticism,” said President Greg Conger. “It‘s beginning to show at the bargaining table but they still have a long way to go,” he said.
Although Disney has offered to increase the starting wage for new hires, its current proposals so far leave long-term and highly skilled employees without any significant enhancements in pay or benefits.
This year’s contract cycle began as an independent academic study sited wide-spread economic distress among the park’s workforce. That study has become the cornerstone of the campaign to expose what unions are calling “the very definition of corporate greed.”
As marchers concluded their event at the park’s entrance, union members handed out free balloons to kids who had lined up with their parents for tickets. The balloons read simply Disneyland and the word Poverty. They are associations that the company will be hard-pressed to dodge the longer contract talks drag out, according to union leaders.