For immediate release
July 14, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. – (Business Wire) Hundreds of delegates of the National Episcopalian Convention taking place in Anaheim this week took to the streets with hundreds of Disney workers and their supporters to protest Disney’s proposal that would make health insurance unaffordable for Disney hotel employees. The National Episcopal Convention is being held in Anaheim this year and hundreds of delegates are staying at the three Disney owned hotels. More than a thousand delegates to the convention have pledged to not return to the Disney hotels, and to ask members of their congregations across the country to do the same, if workers call for a boycott or strike.
2,300 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. The crux of the fight is over Disney’s proposals to increase costs and raise eligibility requirements for health care, and to establish part time classifications. Disney’s proposal would make it so that in a few years hotel workers would have to pay up to $500 a month for health coverage. The Company’s proposals would produce substantial hardship for Disney hotel workers, many of whom would no longer be able to afford the cost of Disney’s health insurance and may be forced to use publicly funded health care options like Healthy Families for their children’s healthcare.
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 forced to use public health care if Disney’s health care proposal were accepted. "I have two daughters, ages 8 and 5 years, and I am the sole provider for my family. If Disney shifts the cost of health insurance to their workers, I will be forced to choose between paying my mortgage or paying for my family’s health insurance. In order for my children to have health insurance I may be forced to rely on the Healthy Families program," said Ruiz.
"We are asking our delegates to pledge not to return to the three Disney hotels and to ask members of their congregations around the country to honor a boycott if the workers ask us to do so. We will continue to pray for justice for the Disney hotel workers and for the larger Anaheim community," said The Rev. Canon Dr. Henry L. Atkins Jr. of the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice.
Hundreds of delegates from the Episcopal convention will be staying at the three Disney hotels during this convention but have pledged not to return if asked by the workers. As of yet a boycott has not been called, but workers are preparing for the possibility in their ongoing fight for affordable health insurance.
Last month the City of Anaheim granted a $40 million dollar subsidy to the Garden Walk project, a hotel project that Disney is reportedly in negotiations to manage. "Taxpayers will pay tens of millions of dollars in public subsidies for two hotel projects that Disney is reportedly in negotiations to manage, and now Disney is trying to force us to pay for the cost of health insurance for their workers’ families, who might be forced to use publicly funded health insurance," said Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway.