A coalition of unions representing more than 11,000 Disneyland cast members has reached an agreement with Disney to reinstate employees on leave in preparation for the now-delayed reopening of Anaheim theme parks.
Disney has signed agreements with 20 affiliated union members to get Disneyland employees back to work, according to a Disneyland statement.
“The signed agreement details plans that include improved security protocols that will allow us to re-open responsibly and get thousands of our cast members back to work,” according to a Disneyland statement.
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The Disneyland cast member unions reached an agreement with Disney about COVID-19 employee leave and the withdrawal process, according to Teamsters Local 495 coordinator Jim Lennox.
“We intend to continue the discussions,” Lennox said by phone. “The company listens to us loud and clear.”
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Disneyland has been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney proposed to reopen the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks on July 17 pending government approval, but has been forced to delay those plans indefinitely. The Downtown Disney outdoor mall is slated to return on July 9. Plans to reopen Disney’s Grand Californian and Disney’s Paradise Pier hotels on July 23 are also on hold.
Disneyland union employees represent at least 28,000 of the 31,000 cast members at the two Anaheim theme parks. Disneyland employee unions involved in the deal included Teamsters Local 495, United Service Workers West, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324.
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Cast members of Disneyland, the language of Disney employees, will receive two weeks of sick pay if they have a confirmed case of COVID-19, according to the union agreement.
Employees will be required to complete a COVID-19 assessment at home before starting work and will be provided with a thermometer, according to the agreement.
Cast members who must work within 6 feet of Disneyland visitors will receive a plastic mask.
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MiceChat, a Disney fan website, says Disneyland cast members are concerned about how they will pay for treatment if they hire COVID-19 at work.
“Keep in mind that most Disney employees pay a minimum wage,” according to MiceChat. “They are being asked to risk their lives for Disney’s profitability, with no guarantees that they will be cared for if they become ill as a result.”
Disneyland has begun to withdraw workers to prepare the parks for reopening. Cast members concerned about their safety can reject the first notice of withdrawal and continue the license and receive benefits, according to the union agreement. Disneyland employees who reject a second recall must either go on an approved leave of absence or be terminated.
The union agreement stipulates that full-time and part-time employees must be returned before the Disneyland university employment program is reinstated.
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United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 presented a letter to Disney demanding more health and safety measures for Disneyland employees before the Anaheim parks reopen. Those problems include:
- COVID-19 on-site testing for employees
- Company protocols to enforce the mandatory mask policy with visitors
- Employee procedures for handling confrontations with angry visitors who refuse to wear masks.
- Additional cleaning protocols after a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 by an employee
Testing the cast members for COVID-19 could give a false sense of security, Disney director of industrial relations Bill Pace said in a letter to the unions.
“The existing COVID-19 test is not viable as a screening tool, and the FDA does not recommend its use in this way,” Pace said in the letter. “The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 according to the CDC and WHO is to focus on physical distancing, the use of effective facial covers, and hand washing and disinfection. This is still where we are focusing as well. ”
The new Disney Guest Experience Team will be available throughout the Disneyland resort to explain the new COVID-19 health and safety protocols, answer questions, and encourage visitors to follow the rules.
“We have been very clear that we will apply our policy that requires the use of facial coverage by the cast and guests,” Pace said in the letter. “Our resort leaders and security personnel will support the cast members on this front.”
The Resort Labor Unions Coalition sent a letter demanding that California Governor Gavin Newsom prevent the reopening of Disney theme parks in Anaheim on July 17 out of concern for employee safety. CRLU and Unite Here Local 11 call on more than 17,000 cast members to protest the proposed reopening of Disney’s theme parks in Anaheim. Unions will host a Disney Caravan for safety on Saturday, June 27, which will surround the closed Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks.
“The safety and well-being of our cast members and guests are at the forefront of our planning, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following the guidance of public health experts, which we plan to implement. as we move towards our proposal for a gradual reopening, ”a Disneyland official said in a statement.
Disneyland plans to take a multi-pronged approach to reopening after a four-month coronavirus shutdown with a new set of COVID-19 health and safety protocols designed to make it safer to visit Disney theme parks in Anaheim.
Disneyland’s new COVID-19 health and safety protocols for visitors include:
- Reduced capacity in the parks.
- Face coatings required for visitors age 2 and up
- Temperature checks for visitors before entering the parks
- Physical distancing in all parks
- Greater cleaning and disinfection, especially in high traffic areas.
- Additional places for hand washing and hand sanitizer
- Contactless payments in stores and restaurants.
Health and safety guidelines for Disney employees will include:
- Required face coatings and temperature controls
- Adjustment of work practices to promote physical distance.
- Greater cleanliness in work areas.
- Encouraged to stay home when sick