Two new Disney employees began fasting this week at the Disneyland Resort and plan to start camping outside of the Burbank offices after a week-long hunger strike by other union members concludes Tuesday.
It is unknown how long the hunger strikers will stay posted at the Burbank headquarters.
Eight union members are in their seventh day of consuming only water as they stay in tents on the sidewalk outside the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim. Two others stopped fasting because of medical problems.
Both Disney and officials from the union, Unite Here Local 11, have said they will meet with a federal mediator, but a date has yet to be set.
“As Local 11 continues with its protests, we continue to be willing and ready to meet with a federal mediator, as we have for the past two years,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, about the planned Burbank protest in a prepared statement.
On Monday, six local and state elected officials, including state Assembly Speaker-elect John Perez (D-Los Angeles), visited the campsite to support strikers. All signed a pledge to back the union.
“Disney is at a critical turning point right now in making difficult decisions about the economy and making difficult decisions about health care,” said Perez before calling on Disney to quickly resolve the dispute.
State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles, said Disneyland officials don’t want to pay for employees’ contract requests while at the same time a $1-billion expansion of Disney’s California Adventure is underway.
“I don’t believe it,” Romero said.
“We respect their points of view, and ultimately we want the same thing – resolution,” said Brown in a prepared statement.
About 2,150 hotel employees have worked without a contract for two years mostly because of a disagreement about healthcare costs.
The union is fighting to keep its union-run benefits program that requires no employee contributions. Disney wants the union to join the company plan that requires paycheck deductions.
Union officials say that hotel workers cannot afford to pay for health care with the proposed salaries.
“Currently, 81 percent of all Disneyland Resort union (employees) are on the Company’s benefit plan, and Disney pays a majority of the healthcare costs for these employees and their families,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
“Our offer to transition the remaining small number of union members— who currently receive 100 percent of their health care paid — to the Company plan ensures all Disney Cast members are treated equally.”
Top photo shows Jorge Iniestra, a hunger striker, presents Assembly Speaker-elect John Perez and state Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, with signed pickets. Bottom photo shows tents on the sidewalk outside of the Grand Californian Hotel.
Recent union news: