- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
- A union representing employees of Walt Disney World is accusing Disney of withholding $1,000 bonuses the company is offering as a result of the GOP tax law.
- Union members voted against a $0.50 per-hour pay increase in December and now say Disney is keeping the bonuses as leverage in an attempt to get employees to support the deal.
- Disney informed the union that the bonuses will expire if no deal is reached by August 31.
The union that represents employees at Disney World is accusing the company of essentially taking hostage promised $1,000 bonuses from the recently passed GOP tax law as part of contract negotiations.
The Service Trades Council Union – a coalition of various smaller unions that represents workers at Disney World – officially filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the withheld bonuses on Monday.
Members of the union overwhelmingly voted down an offer from Disney that included a $0.50 per-hour pay increase and a $200 signing bonus in December.
When the company announced the tax cut bonus in January, it told the union that the pay would not be distributed until a deal was signed. It said that if no deal was signed by August 31, the offer would expire.
The union leaders say Disney is unfairly discriminating against the employees, or “cast members,” because they are engaged in contract negotiations and using the bonuses as leverage to accept a substandard pay increase.
“At a time when Disney expects a yearly windfall of $1.6 billion, Disney is discriminating against 38,000 of some of its lowest paid Cast Members,” said Angie McKinnon, a leader of one of the unions lodging the complaint. “Using the $1,000 bonus to force Cast Members to accept low wages amounts to extortion.”
Disney maintains that including the bonuses as a part of the negotiations over a new contract is a fair practice.
“Our offer to increase pay by 6-10 percent over the next two years reflects our ongoing commitment to our Cast Members. Wages and bonuses are part of our negotiation process,” a Disney spokesperson told The Washington Post. “We will continue to meet with the Union to move toward a ratified agreement.”
According to the union, the average pay for cast members is $10.71 an hour.