Walt Disney World's $15-an-hour wage could pave way for higher Central Florida pay

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When The Mouse — Central Florida’s largest employer — provides pay raises, it usually creates a ripple impact that different companies within the area can’t ignore, some tourism professors mentioned Monday.

“I’m sure the folks at Universal are scratching their heads saying, ‘Oh crap, what do we do?’” mentioned Duncan Dickson, an affiliate professor on the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “Everybody is chomping at the bit to get employees. Now, you’re in a bidding war. It’s going to be hard to recruit against Disney.”

Walt Disney World Resort and its largest union reached a tentative four-year settlement Saturday that may steadily increase its beginning minimal wage from $10 an hour to $15 by October 2021.

Walt Disney World, union reach ‘historic’ deal for $15-an-hour starting wages by 2021 »

“The ripple effect will go from Disney to Universal to SeaWorld to Legoland to the hotels to all the little attractions. It will be a seismic shift,” mentioned John Morgan, an Orlando lawyer who’s pushing for a 2020 state poll query to lift the minimal pay to $15. “This proves my point. Companies can pay people fairly and make a very good profit.”

Disney, which employs about 70,000 folks in Central Florida, has dictated the going wages in current historical past.

In 2014, Disney and the unions agreed to extend the minimal wage from $eight to $10 an hour by 2016.

Two months after the Disney contract provide, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando each boosted their worker pay to $9 an hour. A short while later, time-share magnate David Siegel additionally introduced a $10-an-hour beginning wage at Westgate Resorts.

Now in 2018, “It’s easy to find a job that pays $10 an hour,” Dickson mentioned.

Representatives for SeaWorld, Universal, Westgate and Rosen Hotels & Resorts both declined to or could not instantly present data on their present wages or in the event that they plan to lift them sooner or later.

Disney’s pay for hourly full-time and part-time staff will improve to $11 by December, $13 in September 2019, $14 in October 2020 and eventually $15 in October 2021.

Employees whose present pay is above $10 will obtain at the very least $four.75 in raises by October 2021, with $2.50 inside the first six months, mentioned the Service Trades Council, a coalition of six locals that symbolize 38,000 Walt Disney World Resort staff.

Another perk can be Disney union employees will obtain retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or three p.c, whichever is larger, relationship way back to September 2017, in keeping with Disney.

Disney union staff will even obtain $1,000 bonuses that Walt Disney Co. had introduced in January after the GOP tax cuts.

“I can breathe,” mentioned Diego Henry, 33, an Animal Kingdom points of interest employee who plans to make use of his incoming cash to pay down a part of his $10,000 scholar debt, purchase his daughter college garments and save for a rainy-day fund.

Henry referred to as $15-an-hour a “turning point — Life-changing. Literally.”

In addition to the compensation, the brand new contract simplifies vacation pay and provides new courses, together with “gender identity,” to guard towards discrimination, mentioned Eric Clinton, president of UNITE HERE Local 362.

There had been minor concessions, he added, similar to new hires should wait a 12 months, as an alternative of six months, to switch jobs. Also, Disney is allowed to phase-in hiring extra non-full-time staff, similar to seasonal and part-time employees. Disney presently is allowed to surrender to 35 p.c of all hours to non-full-time employees, which may develop as much as 38 p.c by 2022, in keeping with Clinton.

A full-time worker is assured at the very least 32 hours per week, Clinton added.

The union employees are scheduled to vote on the brand new contract subsequent week.

The union and Disney are setting a brand new normal for compensating staff, mentioned Clinton, whose native represents Disney World attraction employees, custodians and trip planners.

“I expect other employers will have to do something,” Clinton mentioned. “It feels like we won for everyone.”

University of Florida tourism professor Lori Pennington-Gray additionally agreed that many employers — particularly giant firms — are taking discover of Disney’s newest transfer.

“This will definitely the prompt the conversation,” Pennington-Gray mentioned.

But Disney is a profit-driven firm that has stockholders to please. Even a nickel increase for staff is critical sufficient to value Disney probably $5 million, Dickson mentioned.

With the most recent settlement, it appears probably Disney will improve costs incrementally on merchandising and resort rooms, for instance, Dickson mentioned.

“The company is not going to let profile decline so that means prices have to be raised,” he mentioned.

But, Clinton identified, when has Disney not raised costs?

Got a information tip? [email protected] or 407-420-5470; Twitter, @GabrielleRusson

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