Thousands of employees at Walt Disney World will vote on a historic contract which could raise their minimum wages to $15 per hour. The deal has followed months of negotiations and, if approved, could raise minimum wage by 46 per cent over the next three years.
Disney Employees Vote for Wage Boost
Walt Disney World has been paying its employees $8 per hour for the past several years, but that could soon change. In a new Dumbo-ear-sized deal, Disney workers will vote within the next three days to increase their hourly wages to $15. That isn’t just fantastic news for the employees, but also for Orlando’s economy in general.
This Floridian city has long been known for low wages which has left the community struggling to make ends meet. Orlando is home to a number of iconic theme parks which attract millions of visitors every year from around the world. Walt Disney World is undoubtedly Orlando’s biggest claim to fame, attracting many visitors who come to the theme park to fulfill their dreams. But employees here hardly make enough to even fulfill their rent obligations.
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Central Florida is considered one of the lowest paying metros in the United States. One in every four workers here earns a measly $23,000 a year. In other words, Florida is a basement economy, but Disney could soon raise the floor.
The current median wage in Central Florida is just over $15 per hour, but if the new deal is approved, Disney World Resort – which is one of the biggest employers in the U.S. – could make that amount its new minimum wage.
More Disposable Income
The company is also planning to give raises to employees working above-minimum wage jobs. Experts say that the move could be transformative for the job market as most other employers would likely feel the pressure to raise their wages as well to compete better with Disney.
But the most surprising aspect of the new wage proposal is that both employees and Disney seem to be in favor of it. Voting started yesterday and expected to continue today and tomorrow, although many experts have already speculated that the workers will vote in approval of the new deal.
One of the workers’ union leaders, Jeremy Haicken, says that the new agreement could be life-changing for employees, but it could also give a huge boost to the economy as Disney workers will have more disposable income to spend. Raising the hourly wage could also boost the morale of employees and help improve the experience for theme park visitors.
Haicken says that the wage increase will result in over $1 billion influx in four years. Now that is an additional $1 billion in wages that workers can spend on groceries, auto shops and restaurants. This money will eventually boost small businesses and help Orlando’s community to prosper.
Great Selling Point for Disney
After a year of butting heads with the workers’ unions, Disney said that they have finally reached a middle ground that makes both parties happy. The theme park giant is excited to become the highest paying employer in the U.S. for entry level positions. This could also be a great selling point for the company for maintaining goodwill and attracting the best talent, while posting consistent profits.
Although many say that the higher wages will be funded through an increase in prices for customers who visit the theme park. Ticket costs at Disney have already increased by 34 per cent over the past 6 years and other living expenses in Orlando have also kept up. For example, home values have skyrocketed by 80 per cent in Orlando whereas the wages have remained stagnant.
Experts claim that other competitors like Universal and SeaWorld will also be pressured into raising wages which could definitely increase the cost of living.