Disneyland unions announced Tuesday that they have filed unfair labor practice complaints against Disney, alleging the company illegally “intimidated, surveilled and disciplined” 550 workers for wearing union buttons — which Disney denies. 

In a press release from United Food and Commercial Workers 324 and SEIU-United Service Workers West, the unions said that the formal complaint has been taken to the National Labor Relations Board. 

Michi Cordell, a union member and worker at Disneyland’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, said in a prepared statement, “Cast members have been at the bargaining table for months trying to win a fair contract because we deserve more, but the company has been busy breaking the law, surveilling, intimidating and disciplining cast members for exercising their rights. These unfair labor practices are hindering our ability to get the fair contract we deserve and Disney must be held accountable and prevented from further threatening us, the cast members who make the magic for guests on a daily basis.”

On Wednesday, Disney responded to the allegations in an unsigned statement to Theme Park Tribune, saying that “Disneyland Resort cast members may only wear buttons and pins that are a part of their costumes while at work so that the show is maintained for our guests.

However, under President Joe Biden, the NLRB has upheld precedents that employers cannot stop employees from wearing union-supporting insignia, except in rare circumstances. A company dress code would not be one of those exceptions, as evidenced by a 2022 NLRB ruling against Tesla. NLRB chairman Lauren McFerran said in a 2022 statement about that case, “Wearing union insignia, whether a button or a t-shirt, is a critical form of protected communication.”

Disneyland officials denied to Theme Park Tribune that there have been as many actions taken against workers as the unions claimed, while also saying that Disneyland cast members have been asked to remove union buttons to maintain standards about the “Disney Look.” Those officials also claimed that dress code violations would only result in disciplinary action after repeat offenses.

The charges of unfair labor practices come five days ahead of the expiration of the current contract between Disney and four unions at Disneyland representing 13,000 workers, including the two named above, along with Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and Teamsters Local 495. A separate contract for workers at Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney expires on Sept. 30.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated after publication with a response from Disney.