Disney’s hotel union is organizing a hunger strike to bring attention to a drawn-out contract dispute over health care and workloads.
About 2,150 hotel employees in Unite Here Local 11 have worked without a contract for two years, mostly because of a clash over health-care costs. Recently, house cleaners have complained about their workloads, leading to two December walkouts.
“This is just another tactic from Local 11 leadership to distract from the fact that after two years their members are still without a contract,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, in a prepared statement.
On Thursday, the union is scheduled to announce its plan to hold the hunger strike, in front of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel starting Tuesday.
Ten people are planning to consume only water during the fasting period, said Leigh Shelton, a union spokeswoman. Seven are Disney employees, one is the adult son of an employee and two are union representatives.
The participants are expecting to sleep in tents and check in with nurses daily, Shelton said. She declined to say how long the hunger strike would last. Employees plan to take vacations or unpaid time off.
“We’re doing this because workers feel unsafe on the job,” Shelton said. “The goal is to make Disney listen and see what’s happening.”
Earlier this week, union members said they would agree to meet with a federal mediator, at Disney’s request. But Disney had yet to receive a response from union officials as of this afternoon, Brown said.
“This calls into question their commitment to meeting with an independent federal mediator in the hopes of making progress on our negotiations,” said Brown in the prepared statement. “It also concerns us that they would jeopardize the health and safety of their members in this manner.”
Hotel cleaners say that renovations to guest rooms, including larger bedding and mattresses, have led to more work and contributed to more injuries. But Disney officials say that the workload remains about the same and they have not seen an increase in injuries. Read more about the hotel cleaners’ issues and statistics HERE.
For the past two years, the main sticking point has been health-care costs. Disney wants the union to join its company plan, which requires employee payments. Hotel employees favor the union-run plan, which has no employee contributions.
Thirty of 31 Disney unions agreed to the company-benefits plan.
Disneyland Resort has three hotels: the Grand Californian, Paradise Pier and Disneyland.
Check back Thursday for news about the announcement.
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