Segments of Disney’s vast workforce at its theme parks are opposed to reopening Disney World or Disneyland — though to varying degrees on each coast.
For Walt Disney World, a petition to delay the reopening of the resort has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures on progessive website MoveOn.org. The petition includes anonymous comments, supposedly from Disney cast members, who fear how returning to work in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic could impact them and their families.
“I’m a Cast Member that has repeated close contact with Guests and their belongings,” wrote a commenter identified only as Rebecca B. “At home, I have an infant and my mother who is immunocompromised. Even though I’m strong and healthy and could probably fight off the virus, they aren’t. If I catch something at work, it could kill my family.”
The creator of the petition did not respond to a request for comment.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has been on the rise in Central Florida and the rest of the state. In Orange County, Florida, more than 1,000 new cases have been reported since Friday, June 19, and the increase led the county to make face masks mandatory in public areas — something Disney will be requiring within its theme parks.
Disney World unions, however, have not opposed Disney World’s plans to reopen its theme parks in July. Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362 representing attractions, custodial and vacation planning employees at Disney World, told the Orlando Sentinel that most workers tell him they’re “pretty excited” to return to work.
“Disney Springs has been open for over a month, and I haven’t heard of one news report or one cast member or one guest saying, ‘I got COVID 19,′” Clinton told the Sentinel.
In Anaheim, unions haven’t been as supportive of the push to reopen.
A coalition of labor unions at the Disneyland Resort said “we do not know if the resort can be operated safely” in a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Despite those concerns being expressed publicly, Disneyland cast members have begun receiving calls to return to work as soon as June 28, according to the Orange County Register.
Workers United Local 50, which represents food and beverage employees at Disneyland, addressed the recall notice in a Facebook post from union president Chris Duarte.
“The lack of warning to us and you is unfortunate,” Duarte wrote. “If you are a trainer, lead, production scheduler, receiver, chef or area chef start preparing for the company to contact you as early as the weekend.”
Disneyland will reopen its Downtown Disney shopping and dining district on July 9 and two of its on-site hotels on July 23. It has also proposed reopening Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure on July 17, though that part of its plan has yet to receive government approval.
Opposition to Disneyland’s reopening has also sparked an online petition, collecting more than 45,000 signatures on Change.org.
In a statement to the Orange County Register, Disneyland said: “The safety and well-being of our cast members and guests are at the forefront of our planning, and we look forward to continued dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following guidance from public health experts, which we plan to implement as we move toward our proposed, phased reopening.”
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