January 29, 2020
Setting the pace: New Disney contract raises wages to $15 an hour

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Disney's wage increase puts pressure on other parks to raise pay.

Central Florida Roundup

Setting the pace: New Disney contract raises wages to $15 an hour

Disney raises wages to $15 an hour

Jason Garcia | 10/26/2018

Walt Disney World agreed to raise starting pay from $10 an hour to $15, a move being hailed by civic leaders and worker advocates as a potentially catalytic moment in low-wage Orlando.

The raises will be phased in over the next three years as part of a new labor contract with Disney’s largest union group. Central Florida’s largest employer, Disney has more than 70,000 full- and part-time workers. The hope is that the raises will force rival tourism operators — such as nonunion Universal Orlando, which has about 20,000 employees — to match Disney as they compete for workers in a tight labor market.

“Increasing wages for cast members represents a significant investment in Central Florida and will provide a powerful boost to the local economy,” Disney World President George Kalogridis said in a written statement.

The Florida contract came a few months after Disney reached a deal in California with a union group representing nearly 10,000 workers at Disneyland. Disney pledged to raise starting pay to $15 an hour by next year as part of that deal.

The Disney contracts underscore the pressure facing businesses across the country as low unemployment and inflation push wages higher. The U.S. Department of Labor says private-sector wages grew 2.9% in August, the highest year-over-year increase in nearly a decade. Wages in the leisure and hospitality sector grew 3.2%.

Operating labor costs at Disney’s global theme parks and resorts division have climbed 18.1% — $767 million — over the past three years, primarily because of inflation, according to the company’s regulatory filings. The division’s operating costs have risen 17.1% over the same period. Disney absorbed the rising costs in large part by raising prices; the average price for U.S. theme park tickets and cruise line sailings rose 3% last year alone.

Disney World management won some key concessions from its unions in exchange for going to $15 an hour. The resort will be able to use more part-time workers, as the new contract allows for part-timers to work 38% of total hours, up from 35%. It will also trim some costs by preventing employees from clocking in more than 5 minutes before their shifts begin and clocking out more than five minutes after it ends.

More Business Briefs for Central Florida:

BANKING

IberiaBank named Rick Anderson Central Florida president.

Wells Fargo is laying off 137 workers in Orlando as part of nationwide cuts to its mortgage-lending division.

EDUCATION

  • The University of Central Florida completed an agreement to take over the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute’s Orlando campus and convert the 175,000-sq.-ft. facility into a cancer research and treatment center.
  • A Fort Lauderdale couple, Joyce and Vince Virga, pledged $10.25 million to the University of Central Florida to support entrepreneurship programs and the football team. UCF says the gift is the largest alumni donation in its history.

HEALTH CARE

  • Leesburg Regional Medical Center completed a $29-million expansion of its emergency department.
  • Florida Hospital Kissimmee will add four operating rooms by next fall as part of a 27,000-sq.-ft. expansion.

NON-PROFITS

  • The Ronald McDonald House at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona will expand from 15 to 24 beds.

REAL ESTATE

  • Miami developers Robert Gorlow and Edgar Jones, currently working on the American Dream Miami mega mall, are planning a 175-acre mixed-use development in Melbourne called the Space Coast Town Center.
  • Luxury home builder Toll Brothers plans to build 70 homes near Lake Mary.
  • Miamibased Midtown Development plans a seven-story, 122-unit apartment building on a vacant parcel in the center of the Baldwin Park town center in Orlando.
  • Amazon opened a warehouse south of Orlando International Airport.
  • Potato chip manufacturer Frito-Lay will build a $130-million, 286,000-sq.-ft. high-tech distribution center across from a new SunRail commuter train station in Poinciana. The company, which will receive tax abatements from Osceola County, says the high-tech facility will open by 2021 and employ 200.
  • Tavistock Development and McCraney Property will develop roughly 1.3 million square feet of logistics and distribution space in a 206-acre Tavistock-owned industrial park in south Orange County. The companies say construction of the initial speculative light distribution and logistics space will begin by the end of this year.

Tags: Central, Travel & Tourism

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