Disneyland Character Workers at California Park Vote to Unionize

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A majority of Disneyland cast members who perform as characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and dance in parades at the amusement park, in California, voted to unionize with the Actors’ Equity Association on Saturday, the union said.

The Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers, said it had exceeded the threshold it needed in a vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, winning a 79 percent majority with 953 yes votes and 258 no votes, according to a statement.

Among the key issues that brought workers together to fight for representation in future negotiations with the company were securing improvements in safety and scheduling and demanding “a living wage,” as well as other workplace benefits, the union said.

“They say that Disneyland is ‘the place where dreams come true,’ and for the Disney cast members who have worked to organize a union, their dream came true today,” Kate Shindle, the actor association’s president, said in a statement on Saturday.

In a statement on Sunday, a Disneyland spokeswoman said that “it is premature for the company to comment on the results.”

Union leaders had already counted a symbolic victory in bringing together the workers who define the park’s experience for the many visitors who interact and take photos with the beloved Disney characters.

“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,” Ms. Shindle added.

The unionization vote comes after other recent organizing efforts involving entertainment and large companies nationwide. In September, the Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 screenwriters, reached a tentative deal on a new contract with entertainment companies, ending a monthslong strike that, along with a simultaneous actors’ strike, had shut down television and film production.

On Friday, about 56 percent of workers at Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama voted to reject the United Automobile Workers’ push to organize, despite successful unionization campaigns elsewhere in the South, in Tennessee and North Carolina, this year. And in March, Starbucks and the union that represents its workers, Workers United, said they were beginning discussions about a “foundational framework” to help them reach labor agreements.

The Disneyland vote determined whether a group of 1,700 workers at Anaheim, Calif., who play characters, dance in parades, interact with park guests and train performers, could join the union. Most of the resort’s work force was already unionized.

The union represents performers and stage managers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., as well as those with Disney Theatrical Group on Broadway and who work on national tours.

If there are no challenges to Saturday’s vote, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board will certify the results within a week, the union said, adding that the result of future negotiations will create a better experience for both workers and guests.

The Disneyland Resort, which opened in 1955, includes Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure, three hotels and Downtown Disney, according to the union.



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