Unions Pressure Disney to Pay ``Living Wage''

ANAHEIM (CNS) - A coalition of unions representing Disneyland workers says it has collected enough signatures to put a ballot measure before Anaheim voters that would require Walt Disney Co. to pay the resort workers a ``living wage," it was reported today.

The coalition of 11 labor unions that have been pushing for higher wages at Disneyland Resort, which includes the California Adventure Park and nearby hotels, says it plans to present a petition with about 20,000 signatures to the Anaheim city clerk's office this morning, the Los Angeles Times reported.

If enough signatures are verified, the measure on the November ballot would ask voters to require Disney and other large Anaheim employers that accept city subsidies to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, with salaries rising $1 an hour every Jan. 1 through 2022, The Times reported. Once the wages reach $18 an hour, annual raises would then be tied to the cost of living.

A Disneyland representative deferred comment to a coalition of business groups in Anaheim that opposes the ordinance. In the past, Disney officials have said that the average annual pay for hourly workers at the resort is $37,000, which calculates to about $17.80 an hour.

Todd Ament, chief executive of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, called the proposed living wage ordinance a "job killer" that would deter developers from building hotels in the city for fear of having to pay higher wages.

``It definitely will kill some construction projects already planned," said Ament, who added that if the ordinance appears on the ballot, the chamber plans to campaign against it.

The unions say they are primarily targeting the Disneyland Resort, the city's largest employer with about 30,000 workers, because they say Disney is profiting from millions in taxpayer subsidies while employees struggle to pay their bills.

Photo: Getty Images

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