Employees at Universal Orlando Resort will be paid at least $15 per hour starting June 27 — several months before their unionized counterparts at Walt Disney World will see the same wage increase. 

In a press release, Universal called the increase to its workers’ base pay as “the single-largest wage increase in Universal Orlando history.” Starting hourly pay at Universal had been pegged at $13 since early 2020

“We are excited about our future and we want team members who will be excited to be part of that journey,” John Sprouls, chief administrative officer for Universal Parks & Resorts, said in a statement.  “This is about taking care of both our current team members and those who will be joining our team. We know a great guest experience begins with our team members – and we will continue to provide the best work experience we can.”

Unlike many workers at Disney World, Universal team members are not unionized. However, the competition for employees means a pay increase by one is often matched by the other. In 2018, Disney unions won a gradual increase in its minimum wage to $15 per hour by October 2021. Soon after the contract was approved, Universal raised its own base pay, with Disney unions claiming credit

In addition to raising base pay, Universal also said it will give “more than 18,000 team members a raise based on the new rates and their time with the company.”

Recruiting employees has become a concern across the theme park industry as employers struggle to fill low-wage, seasonal positions at the rates they were accustomed to offering before the COVID-19 pandemic (and no, it’s not a given that more generous unemployment checks are to blame). 

Cedar Point in Ohio raised its starting pay to $20 per hour after a shortage of workers forced the park to cut operating dates in June. Other parks in the Cedar Fair chain, including Kings Island outside Cincinnati and Charlotte’s Carowinds, have also raised wages in a bid to attract more workers.

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