For immediate release
August 7, 2009
Disney Hotel Workers Pledge to Continue Fight to Keep Health Care Affordable
Anaheim-A majority of Disney hotel workers voted to reject Disney’s most recent contract proposal that would have made health insurance largely unaffordable for many of the workers employed at the three Disney owned hotels. The final count in yesterday’s vote was 1,076 votes to reject Disney’s latest contract proposal to 86 votes in favor of the contract proposal. 2,100 Disney hotel workers employed as restaurant servers, dishwashers, housekeepers, front desk agents, and bellmen at the three Disneyland Hotels, Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Hotel, and Grand California Hotel, have been working without a union contract since February 2008. In their latest contract offer Disney proposed to increasingly shift the cost of health insurance to its employees and create a new "casual regular" status for employees who average less than 30 hours a week. "Casual regular" workers would be ineligible for health insurance benefits.
The crux of the labor dispute is Disney’s proposals to increase costs and raise eligibility requirements for their employees’ health care. The company’s proposal would make it so that by 2014 hotel workers could have to pay up to $520 a month for family health coverage based on the Disney Signature Kaiser Plan. Disney’s proposal would produce substantial hardship for Disney hotel workers. Many of these workers and their families would no longer be able to afford the cost of Disney’s health insurance and may be left uninsured.
Juan Ruiz, a restaurant server who makes the state minimum wage plus tips at Disney’s Grand California Hotel is one of the workers who might be left without health insurance under Disney’s latest contract proposal. "I voted to reject Disney’s contract proposal and pledge to continue fighting for affordable health insurance. I have two daughters, ages 8 and 5 years, and I am the sole provider for my family. If we have to pay for our health insurance, I will be forced to choose between paying my mortgage or paying for my family’s health insurance," said Ruiz.
In their continuing fight for a fair and just union contract, Disney hotel workers, faith leaders, and community members have taken part in marches, delegations to management, and a protest which shut down the main entrance into Disneyland Park that resulted in dozens of arrests last year. A couple of weeks ago, approximately 1,500 delegates to the Episcopal National Convention and hotel workers marched to Disneyland to deliver over a thousand pledges from delegates who promised to not return to the hotels if the workers called for a boycott. As of yet a boycott has not been called, but workers are preparing for the possibility in their ongoing fight for affordable health insurance.