The six trade unions representing 38,000 Disney employees are asking for an accelerated wage increase of up to $15,71 an hour, while Walt Disney World is proposing up to a 2.5 percent salary increase for current employees, while freezing the starting minimum wage at $10 an hour for new workers.
The two sides began bargaining Monday but would not release details about the negotiations.
“We’re not going to be detailing to the media today our exact proposal or the company’s counter proposal, we’re going to bargain with the company respectively over the bargaining table,” said Jeremy Haicken, president of Unite Here Local 737.
The unions want to raise the average salary of Disney employees from $11.28 an hour up to $15.71. Disney said that with overtime and premium pay, the average salary is closer to $13.34 an hour.
“Our starting cast members currently earn nearly $2 more an hour than Florida’s minimum wage for entry level jobs,” Disney said in a statement. “We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the union to reach a fair and reasonable agreement.”
Last month, the unions said they planned to request that the current $10 an hour wage progressively increase to lift workers out of poverty. They also want cost-of-living raises for longtime cast members and simplified schedules for pay increases.
Disney worker’s last raise was from $8.03 to $10 an hour in 2014. Three years ago, Disney signed a 5 1/2-year contract that allowed the unions to reopen wage talks this year.
The two sides have until October 24 to reach an agreement on pay or the entire contract could be reopened, including pension and health-care benefits.
The Service Trades Council Union represent full- and part-time Disney workers that include bus drivers, housekeepers, characters and custodians.
The six unions are: Teamsters Local 385, TCU Local 1908, Unite Here Local 362, Unite Here Local 737, UFCW Local 1625 and IATSE Local 631.