Disney World Union Accuses Company of Retaliation Over COVID-19 Testing Demand

Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida- Getty-H 2020
Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The conglomerate responded that it was "exercising our right" to reopen without the union performers.

A union representing 750 Disney World performers on Thursday accused the company of retaliation after the group demanded workers be tested for COVID-19 upon the resort reopening. 

Disney World partially reopens Saturday, first with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, followed by EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios reopening July 15. The Disney Springs shopping and dining district reopened May 20 with strict new health and safety measures in place, such as a mask and temperature check requirement. 

A number of unions were involved in the negotiating process to recall furloughed workers, but Actors' Equity on Thursday said Disney "rescinded all of its recall notices for Equity members," which they claimed was a calculated move, and filed a grievance against Disney. 

"Since our public request that Disney test performers in the park, there have been more than 114,000 new coronavirus cases in Florida. Rather than agree to testing of performers, Disney has decided to retaliate against workers fighting for a safe workplace," the union said in a statement. 

Disney responded: "Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors' Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate. We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers."

A number of Disney unions in California have also been clashing with the company over testing demands. Last month, numerous unions banded together to protest at the shuttered Anaheim theme park over the concerns the company was moving too fast to reopen. COVID-19 testing for members was among the top of the list as far as demands. 

Disneyland, however, will not reopen as planned July 17 due to the spiking virus cases in the state. Still, Downtown Disney, the resort's shopping and dining district, reopened Thursday morning to a long line of awaiting guests.