Labor Union Sues Disneyland for Failing to Pay Living Wage: Employees Living ‘In Their Cars’

Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger makes his remarks during a gathering attended by first lady Michelle Obama announcing that Disney will become the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, …
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

A union representing workers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, is suing to force the resort to pay them a “living wage.”

The union insists that Disney is violating Anaheim’s Measure L, a 2018 ordinance which mandates that hospitality businesses pay workers at least a $15 per hour minimum wage, according to the L.A. Times.

The lawsuit alleges that Disney is taking a subsidy for the construction of a six-story parking garage for the resort. Some of the construction bonds are paid in part by bed taxes from Anaheim’s hotels. Once the bonds are paid off, the city is set to fully transfer the garage to the resort.

The union activists, though, say the deal amounts to a subsidy benefiting the resort.

Both the resort and the city disagree.

“We have yet to see the lawsuit, but the union coalition is well aware that the [Anaheim] city attorney has previously looked at the issue and clearly stated that Measure L does not apply to the Disneyland Resort,” Disneyland spokeswoman Liz Jaeger told the media.

Last year, Anaheim City Atty. Robert Fabela determined that the deal between the city and the resort “does not appear to incorporate a direct city subsidy.”

Disney also claims that all its workers already make at least $15 per hour. But the union attorneys claim that the subsidy helps pay that wage letting Disney off the hook.

But according to the paper, legal experts have varying opinions on the deal giving the union hopes that a court will see it their way.

Five Disney workers are currently party to the lawsuit, but the union says it hopes to bring in up to 400 resort workers into the legal action.

“A lot of [workers] have to live in their cars, or on people’s couches, because they can’t afford the rent on that wage in the City of Anaheim,” said Kathleen Grace, a plaintiff in the case.

To pull in the other employees, though, a judge would have to allow the case to be opened to a class action.

“This is an important case,” union attorney Randy Renick exclaimed. “Disney was able to take millions of dollars in subsidies and not take responsibility for paying a living wage.”

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