Walt Disney World has announced plans to stop paying wages to 43,000 Cast Members on April 19 in what is the largest wave of furloughs since the Resort closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus spread.
Cast Members will be able to keep their medical, dental and life insurance benefits for the length of the furlough period, or up to a year. Seniority and wage rates will remain unchanged for the workers whose furloughs start April 19, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council, the coalition of unions representing the Disney World workers.
“The union agreement provides stronger protections and benefits for 43,000 union workers at Disney than virtually any other furloughed or laid-off workers in the United States,” the union said in a statement to members.
About 200 Cast Members will remain on the job performing “essential duties” during the closure, and will be offered positions based on seniority, the union said.
The agreement with the Service Trades Council marked the largest group of employees at Walt Disney World to come to terms on furloughs with the company during the new coronavirus outbreak. With 77,000 workers, Disney World is the largest single-site group of workers in the nation.
Disney World’s theme parks, along with its hotels and Disney Springs entertainment and shopping district closed in mid-March, and Disney has been paying its Cast Members while they stay at home. That is scheduled to end April 19 because Disney officials don’t know when the theme parks and resorts will reopen.
On Friday, unions representing security guards and workers involved in facilities and operations reached agreements under similar terms.
Earlier this week, Disney World and a union representing musicians who perform at its theme parks reached a similar agreement.
Disney also said it would furlough executive, salaried and hourly nonunion employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time.
Also on Friday, several unions at Disneyland Resort announced plans to furlough its members. However, those members will continue to receive medical and education benefits as well.