Walt Disney World has reached an agreement with a coalition of labor unions on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for unionized employees at the resort.

The approximately 43,000 employees represented by unions within the Service Trades Council Union will have until Oct. 22 to provide proof they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccineThe news came on the same day that the Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

In a statement, STCU explained the limited exemptions to the mandate, as well as what will happen to employees who refuse to get vaccinated:  

“Employees with medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs will be eligible to apply for an accommodation through a negotiated process. This process ensures prompt processing of requests for accommodation, weekly meetings between the Union and Company to address concerns as they arise, an explanation if any accommodation is denied, and access to the grievance procedure should there be a dispute on the accommodation request. Disney will make every effort to reasonably accommodate employees with a medical or religious accommodation need in their current role or classification. Cast Members who do not comply with the vaccine requirement and do not request a legitimate accommodation, will be separated from the Company with a ‘yes’ rehire status.”

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by Theme Park Tribune, cast members claiming a medical exemption will have to provide “a note from the employee’s medical provider” confirming that a real medical condition exists that prevents the employee from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

In the cases of both the religious and medical exemptions, the agreement reserves the right for Disney to discuss the exemption request with doctors or outside experts on religious practices.

The union added that Disney World will be hosting vaccination events in the next several weeks so employees can get vaccinated at work. It also noted that the COVID-19 vaccines “are safe, effective, and free.”

Contrary to online misinformation, it is legal for private companies to require that workers get vaccinated as a condition of employment. Other major companies also have some form of vaccine mandates, including Netflix, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Lyft, and Uber.

Disney had previously announced in July that it would require non-union employees to get vaccinated by the end of September. No other major theme park operator in Central Florida has followed their lead, though Universal Orlando workers — who are not unionized — are required to share their COVID-19 vaccination status with the resort.

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