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Disneyland Performers Vote to Unionize with Actors’ Equity Association

Performers at the Disneyland Resort in Southern California, including those who bring beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Goofy to life, have voted overwhelmingly to unionize with the Actors’ Equity Association. The union announced the results of the vote over the weekend, with 953 performers in favor and 258 against, surpassing the required 50% plus one margin needed for unionization. The National Labor Relations Board is expected to certify the election within a week, provided there are no challenges.

Disneyland Performers Vote to Unionize with Actors' Equity Association
Source: Axios

Landslide Victory for Unionization

Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle emphasized the significance of these performers in creating memorable experiences for park guests. “These workers are on the front lines of the Guest experience; they’re the human beings who create lifelong memories when your kids hug a character, or when your family watches a parade roll by the castle,” Shindle stated in a news release. The union’s primary goals include improving employment benefits, working conditions, and job security for the performers as they negotiate their first contract.

Expanding Union Representation

The Actors’ Equity Association already represents performers and stage managers under the Disney umbrella at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disney Theater performers and stage managers on Broadway and national tours. This new addition of Disneyland Resort performers expands the union’s influence and strengthens its position in advocating for the rights and well-being of Disney performers. The Walt Disney Company has acknowledged the outcome of the vote but withheld detailed comments until the election results are officially certified. The company stated that it respects the employees’ opportunity to have their voices heard and will address the results appropriately once confirmed.

The Broader Union Landscape

The successful unionization at Disneyland comes amidst a complex landscape for organized labor in the United States. Recent efforts in the South have yielded mixed results, with the United Auto Workers winning an organizing vote at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee but losing at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama. Despite these setbacks, the push for unionization remains a significant movement in various industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14.4 million wage and salary workers were union members last year, marking a historically low rate during a year notable for numerous high-profile strikes, often referred to as the “summer of strikes.” Notably, nearly 30% of all active union members reside in California or New York, indicating a strong union presence in these states. The highest union representation is found among employees in education, training, and library occupations, with nearly 33% unionized. Police, firefighters, and security guards follow closely, with almost 32% represented by unions.\

Disneyland Performers Vote to Unionize with Actors' Equity Association
Source: Fox Business

The Disneyland performers’ vote to unionize reflects a broader trend of workers seeking better conditions and representation. As the Actors’ Equity Association prepares to negotiate on behalf of these new members, the outcome could have significant implications for other non-unionized sectors within the entertainment and hospitality industries. The move underscores the continuing relevance and necessity of unions in advocating for workers’ rights and improving labor standards.

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