Pixie Dust or Pay Cuts? Disney Employees Fight for Fair Compensation

Workers in Disney’s luxury resorts spend their days tending to wealthy vacationers but lack the resources to meet their own basic needs. Will a lawsuit change that?

The Happiest Place on Earth

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In sunny Anaheim, California, millions of families spend thousands of their hard-earned dollars on resort vacations surrounded by their favorite Disney characters. For lucky guests in higher tax brackets, Disney offers luxurious. upscale lodging options.

The Workers Behind the Magic

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Behind the scenes, a rarely seen or heard group of skilled maintenance workers are hard at work, ensuring that no issues arise that would compromise the guests’ experience. These workers often put in overtime hours to keep things running smoothly.

Lawsuit Emerges from Disney’s Maintenance Staff

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Despite their vital role in Disney’s operations, over a hundred of those maintenance workers allege in a new lawsuit that Disney has been egregiously underpaying them, resulting in these employees being unable to support themselves financially.

Workers Rely on Multiple Jobs Due to Low Wages

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Many find themselves working around the clock—first, on property at Disney, and then in second jobs that they’ve taken on to try and fill the gaps in their income.

Wages Below Fast Food Workers

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According to the plaintiffs, Disney’s offered wages for maintenance workers are less than those of California’s fast food workers. The struggling tradespeople are finding that their specialized skills are not yielding the income they need to make ends meet.

An Unlivable Wage

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An attorney for one of the plaintiffs confirmed that many of those behind the lawsuit are making under $18 per hour, a wage that is not far above the poverty line in the state of California. 

Disney’s Past Catches Up

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Disney has previously come under fire for its low pay rates after it was revealed that many of its employees were utilizing a union-sponsored food bank.

Workers Supplied Their Own Tools Without Reimbursement

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The lawsuit mentions that Disney required its maintenance workers to bring their own tools to work. The state requires that if employees are expected to provide their own equipment, their wage should be double the state minimum (currently $15.50 for most workers in California).

Labor Law Violations

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However, some of the employees involved in the lawsuit were earning only a couple of dollars more than minimum wage. The lawsuit also includes claims that Disney violated labor laws by refusing to allow lunch breaks and paying overtime.

Widespread Outrage

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The revelations in the case have led to outrage, with many not understanding how Disney can justify charging upwards of $800 a night for rooms in these resorts while paying poverty wages to the workers who maintain them.

A History of Poor Treatment

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Disney workers have lived in poverty for years, according to claims from those affected. Some of those struggling employees were unable to afford homes and resorted to living in their vehicles.

Tragedy Caused By Poverty

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In 2016, Disney employee Yeweinishet Mesfin was found dead in her vehicle after having been reported missing nearly three weeks prior. She was a night custodian on the Disneyland property. Her coworkers did not know she was homeless, but her employment records listed no address.

One Study’s Shocking Results

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Two years later, Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable conducted a study on Disneyland employees, which revealed that over half of those employed at the happiest place on earth were concerned about losing their housing. Ten percent had experienced homelessness within the last 24 months.

Temporary Housing Solutions

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Many of the employees without housing live in motels near Disney’s property, citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions. 

Some Employees Still Believe in the Magic

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Despite the financial stress that comes as a result of being severely underpaid, Disney employees don’t want to work elsewhere – they just want to be paid fairly. Most of those interviewed said they love working for the mouse and just want better conditions overall.

Disney Heiress Speaks Out

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Founder Walt Disney’s great-niece, Abigal Disney, has long been opposed to the way the parks treat their workers and has pushed for change within the organization. However, her attempts to sway corporate leadership were unsuccessful.

CEOs Are Way Overpaid, Says Disney’s Niece

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Ms. Disney also criticized the fact that CEOs, including Bob Iger (who was CEO of Disney at the time), “are paid far too much.”

“Jesus Christ Himself Isn’t Worth 500 Times His Median Workers’ Pay”

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“If your CEO salary is at the 700, 600, 500 times your median workers’ pay…Jesus Christ himself isn’t worth 500 times his median workers’ pay,” Ms. Disney said.

Lawsuit Unresolved 

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The recent lawsuit against the Disney corporation is ongoing, and is a class-action suit that asks for unpaid wages that were due to the employees in question. They’re also suing for interest and their legal fees.

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The post Pixie Dust or Pay Cuts? Disney Employees Fight for Fair Compensation first appeared on Thrift My Life.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.