Disney World definitely doesn’t look like the happiest place on earth if you’re working there, as employees continue to clamor for a meaningful increase in wages to cope with the soaring cost of living.

The amusement park’s unionized workers recently rejected Disney management’s proposal of raising salaries by $1 an hour per year over a five-year period. Over 14,000 of Disney World’s 32,000 employees cast their votes, with 96% vetoing the proposed pay rise.

Matt Hollis, president of the Service Trades Council Union which is collectively negotiating with Disney’s management team, says that $1 an hour is not enough to enable employees to cope with current economic issues affecting them and their respective households. 

Negotiators from the six unions with whom the workers are affiliated asked for an immediate pay raise of $3 per hour, essentially 20% higher than the $15 being paid an hour to around 75% of Disney World employees. This demand stemmed from how workers worried that they could not afford to live in Central Florida on their current paychecks.

Under current rates,  the average rental cost for a standard Orlando apartment would set someone back by around $1,800 a month, making the $1-an-hour offer an unrealistic one at best, especially when other expenses are taken into consideration.

Hollis added that Disney management agreed to continue the negotiations, but a date for the renewed talks has yet to be confirmed.

Not Necessarily a Strong Offer

Disney described the rejected pay hike as a very strong offer that would have resulted in 46% of cast members (employees portraying characters in public) receiving more than a dollar-an-hour raise in the first year of the offer’s five-year run. Throughout the lifespan of the offer, most employees would have received a total of 30% to 46% raises throughout the timeframe. 

Likewise, retroactive pay increases from October 1, 2022 – the expiration date of Disney’s previous contract with its employees – would have yielded around $700 in lump sum payments for each employee. Due to the negotiations, the payments and other increases have been delayed.

How Disney Fared in 2022

According to reports, Disney’s parks, experiences, and products unit which includes its flagship park Disneyland in California as well as Disney World earned $7.4 billion in revenue with an operating income of around $1.5 billion in the previous fiscal year which ended on October 1st. 

The first half of the fiscal year – October 2021 to end-March 2022 – was adversely impacted by surging Covid cases in the United States. However, revenue is up by 36%, while profits have doubled from FY2021. 

The entertainment firm is set to report its Q4-2022 figures on Wednesday, February 8th.