DEMAND Disneyland Resort Provides Fair Wages to All Employees

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For many years Disneyland Resort employees have done their job of putting a smile on all of our faces at “the happiest place on earth.” But are they really happy? A recent survey, put out by Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable, reveals that almost 75% of employees do not make enough money to cover monthly expenses; like housing, a car, or even food. Despite the economic insecurity, many employees are attached to their job at Disneyland because of their childhood memories. Disneyland resort made over three billion dollars in revenue last year. They can afford to provide better wages to their employees.

Last month, The New York Times covered the story of 24-year-old Emily Bartola, a woman who spend her days selling mouse ears on Disneyland’s Main Street, but goes home to sleep in her car. Without a college degree she cannot get a better job, but without sufficient wages she cannot afford college. It is a double-edged sword. Bartola says “I moved for the dream of working here,” but with little wages a sufficient life isn’t possible. Unfortunately, Bartola’s situation is not uncommon for Disneyland employees. With rising housing costs in Southern California, minimum wage is not enough to pay for basic expenses. Disneyland is located “in Orange County, where a single adult would need to make about $33,000 a year to meet a basic monthly budget.” Bertola, at eleven dollars an hour, along with most other employees, don’t even get near this number.

All of this information was brought to light by a recent survey, “Working for the Mouse.” Not only does this survey show the financial hardships of Disneyland employees, but it shows the decline is average hourly wage over the past twenty years. In the year 2000, according to Walt Disney Company Data,  the average hourly wage was $13.36. Now, it is $11.15. While the cost of living in California soars, frequent pay cuts are making it harder for employees to make ends meet.

Disneyland Resort’s 3 billion dollar annual revenue makes it easy for them to provide employees with higher wages. If the average hourly wage was raised to $20, it would “be a powerful regional economic stimulus” for Anaheim and the surrounding areas. Disneyland needs to be willing to lessen they pay gap between higher-ranking jobs and frontline workers in order to provide sufficient wages. According to the survey, the Walt Disney CEO, Robert Iger, will receive this year, enough authorized compensation to pay the salary of 9,284 Disneyland workers. Iger’s “pay would make up 86% of the gap between the current wage and an equitable $20 wage for Disneyland workers.” Even with this pay cut Iger will still make enough salary to pay for 5,348 Disneyland workers. Disneyland is a major profit business and is the largest employer in Orange County. Their revenues have grown dramatically in the past years, but their frontline workers are yet to indulge in the success.

The New York Times reported that a spokeswoman for Disney said the survey was “inaccurate and unscientific” and made by “politically motivated labor unions.” The survey was paid for by labor unions and did not include every single employee of the park but, the facts are there. Although only 17% of employees completed the survey, census data shows that 85% of the 30,000 employees make less than $15 an hour, and that is not enough to live sufficiently.

Disneyland employees, like Emily Bertola, have a passion for the work they do and deserve fair wages. This survey revealed that, although employees are passionate, they feel underpaid and underappreciated.


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