Disneyland, Walt Disney World Unions Reach Furlough Deal Amid Park Closure

Disneyland March 14 2020

Workers United Local 50's president says the union was able to "secure protections for signature benefits to be continued with no premium cost to the members."

The Disneyland union said Thursday night that it had reached an agreement with the Walt Disney Co. amid the park closure due to the novel coronavirus. 

Workers United Local 50, which represents food and beverage workers in the Anaheim park, said furloughs were inevitable but that it was able to secure certain guarantees from the company. 

On Saturday morning, North America’s Building Trades Unions Craft Maintenance Council released a statement in which it said a similar agreement had been reached for Walt Disney World union members. 

"Effective April 19, non-essential food and beverage members will be furloughed," Workers United Local 50 president Chris Duarte said in a letter to members. "Negotiated as part of a furlough we were able to secure protections for signature benefits to be continued with no premium cost to the members."

He continued, "Pensions and full-time hours requirements will be protected with credited hours. The negotiated agreement has recall language to ensure that food and beverage operations will be with Local 50 members and will observe seniority." 

The Walt Disney Co. announced March 27 that Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disney Paris would be closed until further notice because of the outbreak. 

Duarte told union members he had no inside information about the park reopening. 

"Beyond securing the much-needed protections mentioned above, we, unfortunately, have no information about when the resort will be opened and members will return to work," he wrote. "As things change, we will continue to update everyone as fast as possible." 

On April 2, the company said furloughs would begin for park employees. At that time, the union contract protected members against furloughs. There are at least 10,000 non-union employees impacted at Disneyland alone.

Still, the burden of the parks being closed was not placed solely of the shoulders of staff. On March 20, it was announced that executive chairman Bob Iger would forgo his entire base salary and recently named CEO Bob Chapek would take a 50 percent pay cut to his base salary amid the coronavirus pandemic. Additional executives also would be required to take pay cuts.

April 11, 7:42 a.m. Updated with information that the Walt Disney World union also reached an agreement with the company.