Disneyland Magic Happens Parade

Union Vote Announced for Disneyland Resort Parades and Characters Cast Members

Cast members that come from parades and characters at the Disneyland Resort will be voting on unionization before the end of the month. The announcement came from the National Labor Relations Board. It said that the union election will be taking place on-site at Disneyland from May 15-18 for Disney Cast Members who perform in parades or as characters at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Disney-owned and operated hotels in Anaheim. If approved, the 1,700 cast members from parades and characters would be represented by the Actors’ Equity Association.

In response to this announcement, Disney officials said, “We support our cast members’ right to a confidential vote that recognizes their individual choices.” 

The Union

There are several unions already in the world of Disney entertainment, and also at the Disneyland Resort. This particular vote will be to join the Actors Equity union. This will be in contrast to Walt Disney World character and parade performers who are represented by IBT Local 385. This is part of the STCU agreement. Equity represents actors, singers, and dancers at Walt Disney World Resort. At the Disneyland Resort, this group of performers is already represented by AGVA.

Actors’ Equity Association was founded in 1913 and represents over 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. According to a release from Equity, it “endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included).”

The Conditions

The group of cast members looking to unionize call themselves Magic United. They announced their intentions to partner with Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) for this process. Last month they held a press event when they filed with the NLRB. At the time, representatives detailed what they wanted to see changed in their workplace at the Disneyland Resort. The changes were focused on safety, scheduling, a living wage, benefits, and also the opportunity to have more say in their workplace. They also wanted access to insurance to be made easier. The current base rate for parade and character cast members is $24.15/hour. This was new and up from $20 an hour as of January 2024. For some roles, there are also premiums that are added on top of that. The premiums can start at 40 centers/hour and vary depending on the role. Disney has a trend that continues of giving non-union cast members annual pay rates. This trend goes back as far as Disney’s records currently show.

Disney’s part-time cast members are hired to work year round for an average of 20 hours per week. During peak seasons and holidays, they can end up working more. This can lead to them being offered benefits, including health care. Disney also has a paid sick leave it believes is reasonable and fair. It provides multiple ways for cast to take time off and Disney believes it aligns with industry standards and legislation from the state of California. Currently, cast members allows for Cast Members to miss up to 20 days of work to take care of themselves or others before being separated.

The attendance policy at Disney is universal and doesn’t apply solely to union workers. Changes in schedules are based on operational necessity as a regular course of business. Due to the nature of the work and business, this can come with little or no notice, particularly when weather is the factor. Safety is a priority for the company and is a determining factor in decisions that are being made. Disney also creates ways for cast members to communicate safety concerns (i.e. escalation to leadership, safety meetings, roundtables, and an anonymous hotline).

If the vote to unionize passes, these are the topics that will be focal points for bargaining.

The Process

Voting will take place May 15, May 16, and May 18. It will be on-site at the Disneyland Resort. On each of the voting days, eligible voters will be able to cast ballots at one of three designated voting locations. The voting location will be determined by the cast members first scheduled shift that week. It is expected that the election results will be tabulated by the evening of May 18th and then released.

On April 17, when the petition for a union election was filed with the NLRB, Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle said, “Our goal is to make ‘the happiest place on Earth’ a little happier. Equity has a very good relationship with Disney. We negotiate with them at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and with Disney Theatricals on Broadway and national tours. We look forward to meeting with their representatives across the bargaining table, and together, making the Disneyland Resort a fairer and safer place to work.”