For immediate release
December 19, 2013
ORLANDO – In a first-of-its-kind poll, more than 7,100 employees cast ballots on Wednesday in support of their union’s new approach to contract negotiations for housekeepers, custodians and food and beverage workers at Walt Disney World Resort.
With workers’ contract set to expire in March 2014, Wednesday’s vote signaled approval for a new bargaining process that will build a broad worker-led negotiating committee to identify and prioritize issues in the new contract. For workers, the vote represents a referendum on the union’s new direction under Local 737’s union’s recently elected President Jeremy Cruz-Haicken, who has teamed up with Local 362 President Eric Clinton. The 2014 contract will be the first negotiated under the new leadership team.
"This is the first time I’ve participated in my union’s contract negotiations," said Maria Carrillo, a housekeeper at Disney’s All Star Resort. "I’m excited to have a voice in the process. As room cleaners, we will bargain on the issues that matter to us most like workload and scheduling."
The vote comes one month after hundreds of Disney employees participated in a worker convention, another first for the UNITE HERE local unions.
"Local 737 and Local 362 are great unions. We are building on the traditions of the past, while becoming the most democratic, forward-thinking and transparent organization in Central Florida," said Cruz-Haicken. "Tourism is the heart of Central Florida’s economy, and Disney workers are at the center of our economic growth. Disney workers are no different than other Central Florida tourism workers. They are concerned about getting full-time work, about their wages, their health insurance benefits and the conditions they face at work while welcoming millions of visitors to our region. We want to work with Disney to make sure next year’s contract improves the lives’ of workers and their families. Doing so will improve cast member service and keep guests coming back."
The unions are not publicly releasing specific bargaining demands before first presenting them to Disney at the negotiating table.
UNITE HERE Local 737 and 362 represent 20,000 workers at Walt Disney World Resort — 2,700 are tipped workers and 18,000 are in non-tipped positions.
"This vote is significant because is shows that cast members like me are taking a more active role in our jobs, lives and union," said Maria Smith, a Magic Kingdom attractions attendant. "We are proud of the work we do to make guests happy, and we’re excited to sit down with Disney to make things better together."
UNITE HERE Local 362 and Local 737 represent 21,000 hospitality and tourism workers in Central Florida who work at Walt Disney World, Orlando International Airport, the Orange County Convention Center and several hotels.