Walt Disney World castmembers speak about their search for a living wage

The Services Trade Council workers at Walt Disney World are still negotiating for a fair contract and a living wage. They've released a longer version of the "MouseTrapped" video they put out earlier this week. It details more the living conditions for long-time Walt Disney World castmembers, some of whom are forced to supplement their groceries with donations from church food-banks.

MouseTrapped 2010 - part 1 of 2


  1. After watching all 21 minutes and 35 seconds of this, what did I learn? Nothing most of us didn’t already know to begin with.

    The union wants better benefits and higher pay for its members and does not think they are getting what they deserve. This is what all unions want. There is another side to this discussion (management), but that viewpoint is, for obvious reasons, not represented here, and both sides are constrained by customer expectations, which are also (obviously) not addressed.

    I think one could make a similar video staring park guests called “Hoodwinked 2010 – The High Price of Magic.”

  2. Okay, Disney sucks. Never liked them never will.

    But… have any of these cast members considered quitting? Is this the only occupation these people are qualified for?

    1. Its a employers market these days. No matter how qualified you are, there are a line of other people ahead of you that is just as qualified. And staying in a job one have beats calling it quits and forgoing even that small paycheck when one have no chance to have built up savings.

      1. Actually it’s not an employer’s market these days for people with college educations. Fair or unfair, the recession has targeted people with lower educations, which is why I was able to find another position within a month of getting laid off with another company begging me to join them.

        I really dislike this video because it doesn’t really have any “facts” but rather appeals to emotions. I understand everybody would like to do better than they currently are, but other than making a video what have these people done? I’m sorry I don’t feel like that was explained. What I did pickup was that they had benefits, which puts them ahead of a LOT of people with little or not salable skills.

        I’ve worked hard to get where I am now, moving across the country multiple times, working some pretty crappy jobs, doing things other people wouldn’t stand for. When things got bad I complained, when that didn’t work I voted with my feet.

    2. Right! I watched the whole thing and felt like I was watching a bunch of people say “I really love delivering newspapers but I’m having trouble getting by on a paperboys salary”

      These jobs would not pay so poorly if there was not a long line of people behind these employees happy to do these easy, unskilled jobs for the same money or less.

  3. It’s not like it’s hard to find somebody to wave and sign autographs in a fur suit. It’s unskilled labor. As long as they’re being paid more than minimum wage and have humane working conditions, they can’t really complain. Just quit.

    1. Disney posted profits of 835 million in the third quarter of this year.


      If I was a low wage earner there, I would be inclined to stand up for myself and demand a bigger piece of those profits, as well.

      I like the notion of collective bargaining. I like a forty hour work week, hell I would prefer a thirty hour work week. I like that unemployment insurance exists. I like that a minimum wage exists.

      We would not have any of those things if people never stood up to the billionaires running the world and demanded more of the wealth we are all collectively generating.

      Don’t run, people of Disney! Stand firm!

    2. the people in the fur suits actually get paid fairly well for the amount of time they work. And they have to know how to dance, act, and improvise to some extent.

  4. It is not just the character that we are talking about here. It is over 50 job classifications, everything from theatre techs, robotic lighting repair, audio engineers, puppeteers, dancers, cooks, ride operators, lifeguards, animal care, and many, many more. This is besides the point that the people in those costumes just are not waving, they are playing a part. These are not guys dressed up as bowling pins at the ally, but people that play a part. Look into it a bit more before you put down the 29,000 employees. Again some of these jobs that we are talking about require a degree to be hired for, and are in fact skilled labor. That being said, Everyone has the right that if they work a full time not to be on food stamps. And this should intrest you as it is costing your tax dollars. It should also be pointed out that the Disney Company made over 3 Billion dollars in net profit last year, and that was after buying Marvel. The preceding was personal thoughts and not at all the views of the Disney company.

    1. The preceding was personal thoughts and not at all the views of the Disney company.

      What an odd disclaimer at the end of your post.

    2. “That being said, Everyone has the right that if they work a full time not to be on food stamps.”

      Not since NAFTA.

    3. I am a big supporter of businesses taking care of their people, and I am very much against unions in places like theme parks. I know that having an employee costs more than the simple money they get paid. In some cases a single employee costs a company almost twice what that employee’s wage is. That being said, when you add a union into the mix, you are now adding cost on both sides of the fence. The company pays more for each employee that works under the unions, and the employees working under the union are now having more taken out of their checks. More pay to an employee means more money to the union and more money taken out of the employee’s check. I experienced someone trying to bring a union into our job place. We did our research and found out that we would have been 50% less efficient as a work force, and it would have cost the company 75% more money to maintain the workforce as it existed then. Where is the benefit? Unions, with the exception, perhapse, of some of the high-skill level (Like USA for designers), have been obsolete for many years and are costing our economy as much as anything else.

  5. Eisner got paid more than every Disneyland “cast member” combined. And he was worth every penny, right?

    1. I was going to make that point as well. In the mid-nineties we did the math. I don’t have the old figures in front of me, but Eisner, including his perks, his stock options, outright stock grants, bonuses, etc. made more than all the park employees combined like every WEEK. (maybe it was a month). Regardless, it was appalling.

      1. Er…I meant to say made more than all the park employee’s combined yearly salaries like every WEEK. (maybe it was a month)

        1. And thinking back on it even more, maybe it was just that he made well more than the combined yearly salaries of all the combined park employees every years. It was a long time ago, and I was probably drunk. Regardless, there is no one person in any organization that is 30,000 times more valuable than the rest of them.

  6. I worked at Disneyland from 1962 until 1966 while I was in college. Great place and even greater pay for the time. What happened? Walt died, that’s what. Now, instead of making magic Disney makes money. We have lost so much since the “bottom line” CEO types took over.

  7. I have been at Disney World 2 times with my family, and the people working there, in every corner of the park and resorts are the most wonderful workers I have seen. They are ALWAYS nice to everybody, always smiling and willing to help. I really though that they were making $15 or $20 an hour. I really did.
    I cannot believe how they can keep being so nice in spite of those low salaries.
    If I were in a stupid fur coat in 95 degrees and making 7-8 per hour, I will be kicking butts and flipping fingers instead of giving autographs!
    Common Disney! Pay them more!!!! These are great people!

  8. Sad reality is that every company with shareholders is under a pressure to grow every quarter. Which means that the decision to keep paying these people these wages was a conscious if not well thought out decision. I wish their union was stronger, as they make it clear, they love their jobs and for Disney corp to pay them wages that requires them to use government help is pretty criminal. But the problem is bigger; its also for most that the cost of the medicine they require to stay healthy is expensive. Because our drug complex is under the same capitalist corporate culture.


  9. Actually employees and customers mean nothing to a publicly traded company.

    The share holders are what the company answers to. It’s just that simple. If profits go down, share price drops, share holders and the board are not happy. If that means “trimming the fat” so to speak, wage/hiring freezes, pay cuts, time cuts, out sourcing, ect.. then so be it. Anything to keep the bottom line and share holders happy.

    No matter how short sided that may be.

    Greed, it’s one of the few constants in the world.

  10. Actually employees and customers mean nothing to a publicly traded company.

    The share holders are what the company answers to. It’s just that simple. If profits go down, share price drops, share holders and the board are not happy. If that means “trimming the fat” so to speak, wage/hiring freezes, pay cuts, time cuts, out sourcing, ect.. then so be it. Anything to keep the bottom line and share holders happy.

    You probably know this, but as a generalization, that is unrealistically cynical. Companies are made out of people, who are capable of individual compassion. I work for a large, publicly traded company, yet I personally care quite a bit about our customer (our products save lives) and my fellow employees. I’m sure it is similar at other companies.

    Secondly, though we may not disagree on this point, even if a company is profit motivated that does not mean it is going to chase after short term gains at the expense of long term sabotage. That’s bad business. I don’t dispute that it happens, but to allege that it does so in all cases a bit unreasonable.

    1. How is anything that bcsizemo said unrealistically cynical? What bcsizemo said is absolutely true for almost any publicly traded American company. These companies are expected to meet analyst expectations every single quarter, regardless of how unrealistic they are (i.e. analysts will slam companies for not meeting expectations, even if the company turned a healthy profit and the stock price will drop). Long term vision is a thing of the past; the only thing that matters is short term returns because that is all the market cares about these days. A company with a solid long term plan that is going to require a few quarters of missed analyst expectations will see upper level management thrown out in favor of new management that can deliver a “better” plan for growth. As far as how one of these companies ensures that they will meet analyst expectations, they will do whatever is necessary, just as bcsizemo said. Having worked for a couple of large, publicly traded companies in a non-management senior level position, I can say that I felt like a number and that I was viewed as replaceable. Based on discussions with co-workers in various areas of the company and how often there was employee turnover, I know I was not alone in feeling as I did.

  11. I suppose I’m just confused here. I don’t see what’s forcing these people to stay. From what it looks like, they’re signing a contract to stay with the company for x amount of years, and then they’re free to do as they please. If it didn’t work out, if they’re on food stamps, if they’re going to charities to feed their families…why do they continue to work for this company? I understand a bit of pride in the job they do, Disney is supposed to be “magical” and it’s great that they believe in sharing that with the public, but if it’s really that bad I don’t see it being all too “magical”. Leave, and once Disney is employing a whole new staff of high-school dropouts that are all too happy to work for minimum wage, perhaps they’ll change their tune.

    1. They should quit and find a different full time job that forces them to rely on food stamps. Or, more likely in this economy, stay unemployed and not qualify for EI because they quit their job.

      Either way, fighting for better wages is like so old fashioned. If we all had decent pay it would be hard for me to become supermegarich. So some must live substandardly.

  12. These people need to strike and/or quit. I wonder if there’s enough solidarity though to pull off a proper shut down of the park. I kind of get the impression that providing “magic” is more important to some of these workers than anything they express in this video. Disney’s not going to do fuck all for these people until little Tommy and Annette get turned away because Wallyworld is closed for business. I don’t consume much Disney product (aside from Pixar) but apparently I get to subsidize them paying these people starvation wages in the form of food stamps. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas they should really have much more leverage with the company.

  13. The whole notion of a “living wage” is so foolish and counter to everything a remedial economics class teaches. What are these people really fighting for? .50/hr more? $3/hr more? Is that really a living wage? Why not $40/hr?

    I have a really novel, outside-of-the-box idea… if you feel your wage is too small, get another job. Thats what I did and it works amazingly, no, ASTOUNDINGLY well. I don’t have a college degree – just a good work ethic. And thats really all you need in this country.

    Thanks to Obama care, the price of insurance IS going up for everyone. But there are ways to survive this.

  14. Frankly, someone should be marching up and down the street whee the Disney CO lives, handing out DVD’s of this video, along with some written facts. Shareholders? Shareholders are not immune from the blowback that their actions cause within their communities – be they local, national or worldwide. Shareholders who participate in permitting this kind of thing to happen are poisoning their own pond. And yes, there really is something called “morality” and it really does come down to taking care of your neighbor. Shame on you, Disney, especially the people running the company. Name those names! Name the names of the negotiator who used a lowly “Cheez-it” product to slap insults at these people. What’s that person’s name? His neighbors should know who s/he is. Seriously.

  15. Third World America. The Middle Class is dying – and this is part of it.

    America is now a place of Aristocratic upper class, and impoversished underlings.

    Shame on Disney. But they are the same as every other major American company

  16. I used to work for Disney from 2000 to 2007 and it’s not as easy to find another job in the area as many people think. First the wages at Disney are used by many other area employers to gauge what they’ll pay their employees. It’s also incredibly tough to go to school while working at Disney because your schedule will vary drastically from one week to another. They schedule based on “business need” but as you’ll notice I put that in quotes. It’s more like throwing a dart at a dart board to figure out what they’re going to schedule. You’ll literally be working 6 hours one day and then 12 the next and it’s scheduled that way. All in all it wasn’t bad work, but for the 7 years I worked there I was only making $9.18/hour when I eventually quit. Not enough without having to collect food stamps and getting charity to pay your electric bill some months.

  17. 10-11-12 dollars an hour is not a living wage. WHAT!?!?! I Live in one of the most expensive counties in the country and know plenty of people making less then $10 an hour. Lightguy these are not the theater “cast” in this video. they are the “cast” of the park, which in theme park lingo, is EVERYONE. The people in this video are working registers, cleaning bathrooms, taking tickets. These are low skill jobs. The people I know that worked for Disney had union contracts on par with other people doing the same job in my area. What are these people asking for really? where are the hard #’s. how much should someone pay you for working a register? 10-12 an hour seems fair to me.

    1. There was theatre cast in that video, the cast in fur as some people have put it, do perform in most of the shows around the parks. That bringing said, the reason that you have not seen any “facts” as some one put it is that as I stated to begin with, there are over 50 differt job classifications under the contract that is being worked on right now, and it has been that way since 1971, before the parks opened. To describe what is going on for each of those 50 plus types of jobs would take a whole book, and that is something that most of the public would not take the time to read. What is trying to be done is treat your time a valuable and give you the nutshell of what is going on. By all means is you search for the service trades council on the google, the you will find a website where if you want you can read the whole contract for yourself. We are not hiding anything.

      To everyone that says that we should just quit and find new jobs, thanks the thought had never crossed any of the employees minds, but as was pointed out Disney might as well be setting the pay rates in the south east. Running away never solves problems, this is not the school yard. Most of us believe in making things better, and we care about the people around us. I myself am in one of the top pay brackets, but I understand the plight of my co-worker. I understand that when people cannot afford the meds, and I cannot just say, well then you should quit. Disney as a company made over 3 BILLION last year in net profit, that was after spending 4 BILLION buying Marvel. You cannot tell me with a straight face that this company could not do better.

      This is not about people wanting more money just cause they want more money. This is about what is right. And as I pointed out in my first post, you should be interested as well in what is going on, as you are helping pay some of the bill. Your taxes have to go to benefits like food stamps for people that are working 40 hours a week plus just to make ends meet. To me that does not make any sense.

      Most people will never understanding the jobs that we do, all they see is a theme park worker, but a lot of the cast are much more than that. They are the reason that people come back many times over there life times, and across generations. It is becuse for the lack of a better term, the “magic” that they make.

      On a personal note I have spent half of my life in unions, and for the most part, the brothers, and sisters that are elected want nothing more than to make things better, and help defend the middle class. Yes I pay dues, but every cent is worth it. The word union used to not be a dirty word, and it should not be. A few bad apples over many years have givin unions bad names, but those should be looked at as cases of bad people. If some one is a bum, then vote them out of office. I believe in democratic systems, all unions in the USA are run by it, in fact it is direct elections, unlike the presidential race in the USA.

      1. Actually running away often solves the problem. Was I supposed to continue living in Kansas rather than move to San Francisco because it has a more amenable culture? Should I have stayed in that middle-of-nowhere state and tried so very, very hard to fight and change things so it was a reasonable place to live with actual culture and value? There was absolutely no chance of making it happen.

        The best response is often to give up on things that don’t work and try to create new, better ones that do. At the very least trying to work with something a little bit more suited to what you want. When you do this the bad things end up failing or, at the very least, becoming selected out into niches and allowing more people to live the way they want to… even if others dislike it.

        What actually makes Disney successful is a strong degree of marketing and herd-think. Take, for example, Mickey Mouse. When is the last time anyone ever watched a Mickey Mouse cartoon, let alone enjoyed it? Yet the empire is still based around this ubiquitous Paris Hilton of mascots that, today, is primarily famous for being famous. Nothing at Disney makes that difference, it’s just the status as a destination that keeps driving people there.

        As others have said if you can’t force them to pay you more then they’re not going to do it. Either find a way to get them to do so (complaining that you’re not making enough money tends to lack a real threat behind it that would make them care, no matter how little you make or what your sob story is) or quit and look elsewhere.

        1. “When is the last time anyone ever watched a Mickey Mouse cartoon, let alone enjoyed it”

          My kids and I enjoyed Mickey’s House of Villains at Halloween. Epic Mickey looks fantastic. They really liked Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (for which TMBG do the theme song) a few years back, but are generally past the age, but my four year old nephew still watches it.

  18. The first thing you should do when unsatisfied with your compensation is to try negotiating better compensation. Which they are doing. Should they fail (which they haven’t), THEN they should consider quitting.

    This thinking shows up a lot around here:
    1) Unhappy with something?
    3) Flee!

    The missing step is:
    2) Try to make it better. Did you succeed? If so, great! If not, then…

    This has worked very well for me on the employment level, but has not been very successful for me at the national level (seems like the president isn’t reading my letters).

    In response to the anti-union post earlier, Disney employees need collective bargaining. Any single employee there is expendable, and can be easily replaced by hordes of skilled and/or unskilled workers happy just to get a job. This isn’t a comment on the quality of the current employees, but rather on the size of the company, the economic situation, and the perceived desirability of a Disney job. On an individual level, Disney employees are confronted by a massive bureaucracy designed to hold them in place, limiting and regimenting their advancement through the company. They must negotiate as a bloc in order to overwhelm the system that holds them in place individually.

    1. Woah now, that would mean taking on the wisdom of businesspeople, who obviously have it all figured out: fighting for adequate wages costs them money and that’s bad for business. End of story.

      Maybe it’s better to abandon unions, like all the business leaders want, and stick with workplace sabotage. It usually only takes a few like-minded workers to outsmart management and cause some significant losses in just about any business. No organization is required; once people realize they’re stuck in a job, stuck in poverty, and working for a company that would rather see them quit than hear their complaints, it’s only natural to cause some ‘accidents.’ Cut some wires, wreck some product, mess with some customers, steal anything you can, misfile reports, leak some secrets, etc. As long as you suck up to the boss and stroke their egos it’s unlikely they’ll suspect anything. Easier than dealing with a union. :-)

  19. There are a lot of people who want to work at Disney, true, but there are also a lot of people who want to INVEST in Disney.

    Support the workers, let the shareholders who vote to keep wages down MOVE ON and invest in some other company.

    There are plenty of other people who want to support a fair and wonderful Disney who will agree to lend them money.

    There is a big pot of profit at Disney. The workers are right to want more of it.

    The investors want it, too, and they have leverage in the form of assets.

    The worker’s leverage is their collective voice and their appeals to emotion. They are doing the right thing.

    Disney posted PROFITS of $835 million from July – September of this year. That means yearly PROFITS of SEVERAL BILLION DOLLARS.

    That is a big pot of profit. Everybody wants a piece of it. The workers are right to hang in and do whatever they can to get some of it.


  20. Cheezit insults people who invest in 401k by comparing them to cheese? Overwhelmed by the melodrama, I stopped watching around that point.

    I am not a fan of Disney, but these are people working in low skilled jobs, and lucky to have a job these days. And overweight people complaining that they can’t afford enough food doesn’t make sense.

    1. Herbe posted a series of mocking fake quotes:

      “Dude is fat, so he can’t be starving har har herp derp!” “Just quit!” “They’re all worthless employees who should take what they can get and be grateful.”

      Since nobody else mentions this issue, I will assume my comment was the target of this clumsy straw-man argument. These actors or employees make some emotional appeals, including the repeated statement that they can’t get enough food for themselves and their families. It just doesn’t hold water. It sucks not having as much money as you want for a basic standard of living (whatever that is), I’ve been there, but it is a completely different kind of suck when you don’t have enough food (I’ve been there too before coming to America). Legitimate grounds to claim, in Central Florida, America, in 2010, that there is not enough food, is so far-fetched as to constitute nonsense, and people who are starving do not possess the extra body fat seen on these videos. The people appealing to sympathy would be better off sticking to real problems like health care, poor housing, tough working conditions, and so on.

      Joeposts ridicules “a bunch of comments urging people to give up and accept their fate.” More imaginary straw men? Conflating a preference for free market with “god-has-a-plan Christianity” is clever, but sophomoric. Organizing a union is pretty much the opposite of accepting their fate. I can’t find any comments along these threads disagreeing with the right to form a union or stating that it’s a bad idea.

      Corporations receive way too much government handouts. Does Disney use the government to subsidize their business? Of course they do, and welfare is just one of the ways. It’s rational behavior on the part of Disney to pay the lowest they can get away with. Part of “what they can get away with” depends on public opinion, and it looks like these employees and their union are on track to change that. Good for them.

      1. jonw, upon reading the entirety of your last post, I have found that I misunderstood your point.

        I agree in particular with your last paragraph.

        But I still disagree vehemently with GreenJello’s interpretation of emotional appeals.

      2. “Joeposts ridicules “a bunch of comments urging people to give up and accept their fate.” More imaginary straw men?”

        If by imaginary straw men, you mean actual comments, then yes.

        A sampling:
        have any of these cast members considered quitting?
        they can’t really complain. Just quit.
        why do they continue to work for this company?
        if you feel your wage is too small, get another job.
        I am very much against unions
        Unions … have been obsolete for many years

        But you’re right, I probably imagined these imaginary straw men.

    2. “And overweight people complaining that they can’t afford enough food doesn’t make sense.”

      Are you a nutritionist? lol.

  21. I know a few (ex) Disney employees and learned a few things. The techs are paid below industry standard by a fair bit, the characters are paid according to height (meaning Mickey gets paid more than Minnie for exactly the same job description. Height discrimination anyone?) and generally the pay is lower than similar jobs from other employers. The tale I heard is that the cruise line people all want to transfer to the parks and the park people want to transfer to land, because they’ve both heard it’s better on the other side. The grain of salt being ex- employees often have very little good to say about places they’ve quit.

    1. It is not true that the characters are paid according to height – and Mickey is the same height as Minnie, in any case. Your status (that is, seasonal, part time, or full time) and your length of employment are the only factors in your payscale. It has nothing to do with height.

      I am a former Disney character. I worked there over one summer in 2005 for college credit. The pay is abysmal – I was making about $7 an hour. Fulltime employees who had been there for years topped out at $12 an hour. Given what the characters are asked to do, that is criminally low. The work is hard – you are performing in Florida heat and humidity in a very heavy costume with low visibility, and the costume can take a lot out of you. Many character performers suffer back strain and neck strain due to the costumes, especially from heavier ones like the Beast or unbalanced ones like Eeyore. I fought my way out of playing Pooh because the costume made my fingers fall asleep from all the pressure on my shoulders.

      Also, yes, you do have to pass a dance and movement audition in order to be cast as a character. Plenty of people don’t pass; at my audition, there were thirty people and only five got called back.

      The union at Disney is unfortunately toothless, which means that the employees themselves are often disillusioned with it, which gives it even less bargaining power. The employees (rightly) see that the union does not provide them much benefit, and so the union gets less support. Without the union, however, conditions would be worse. The reality is that Disney workers are not getting pay increases that keep pace with inflation – which means that cast members now are getting paid less in real dollars than they were 10 – 20 years ago. This should be criminal, but somehow isn’t.

      For those who say “just get another job” – the central Florida economy is incredibly stratified and depressed, and other jobs are similarly low-paid. Anyone suggesting it while the unemployment rate remains this high is simply demonstrating their cluelessness.

  22. If employees need food stamps or charity to get by then the employer is being subsidized. Many people get more upset about the poor “getting something for free” then they are about rich companies getting their workers partly paid for by the government. I saw a study a while ago that laid out the costs of Walmart moving to a community. One of the costs, along lower tax receipts, was increased social welfare spending by the local government because Walmart is a company, like Disney in central Florida, that wants other people to pay for their employees.

  23. If employees need food stamps or charity to get by then the employer is being subsidized. Many people get more upset about the poor “getting something for free” then they are about rich companies getting their workers partly paid for by the government.

    This is a good argument and people should make it more often. It makes employee compensation a discussion of externalities and business decisions instead of an issue of emotions and morality. (Those latter things people disagree about irreconcilably.)

  24. I am a graduate of the Disney College Program. They paid us 6.00 an hour, of which I am told the federal government paid 5.50. I worked 34 hours a week, so they could insist I was not a full time employee and grant me those privileges. Except on grad night when I worked 22 hours without stopping.

    Out of our check was taken fees for nametags, uniforms, and the outrageous rent for the crappy apartment where they stacked us six deep and kept us on lockdown. With the remainder, I was barely able to pay my car note and lived off of Ramen Noodles and hotpockets for the 6 months I was there. Those of us lucky enough to not have car notes and bills and the like were in the parks every day, giving their pay check right back to the mouse. Brilliant scheme, no?

    Besides that, I was in a work area where I was constantly breathing gas fumes all day long and out in the heat of the day, getting sunburns as there was no sunscreen that would not sweat off between the breaks under that kind of sweating and abuse. I was constantly being told that I could not make any adjustments to the uniform to make it more suitable for the elements and cool myself. Castmembers were passing out on the track regularly.

    If I knew then what I know now about air pollution and the carcinogenic effects of that environment, I would never have stayed in that work area. When I was hurt on the job, they insisted I go to the company “hospital”, filled with docs trained to tell the cast members they were not hurt. My injuries never received proper attention.

    I was taken advantage of and they made hella money doing it. I wish I had been more educated back then about my rights and the terrible effects on my health. . . . .

  25. I am really shocked that the normally progressive BB commentariat is being so harsh on these workers. “Dude is fat, so he can’t be starving har har herp derp!” “Just quit!” “They’re all worthless employees who should take what they can get and be grateful.”

    Have any of you been paying attention to the eleventy billion articles on the economy, the jobs issue in particular? Jobs are incredibly hard to come by (with an average of 5 people looking for every opening) and many have gone away never to return, due to “efficiencies” and outsourcing and other factors.

    And since when do we blame people for daring to ask for more money? The people in this video are making a reasoned request for an increase in wages. They’re not threatening terroristic acts; they’re not calling people names; they’re simply asking. How dare they – ungrateful fat slobs!

    The very idea that Disney is using government programs to subsidize their wages should at least bother the right-wing bootstrapper commenters here. Then again, I suppose those commenters would argue that if these workers don’t provide enough value to make enough money to feed their families, we’re better off letting them starve. Survival of the fittest, amirite?

    Ugh, I’m disgusted, truly.

    BB, thanks for the videos. I’ll be sure to send them to my friends who drag their kids to Disney every couple of years.

    1. “Jobs are incredibly hard to come by (with an average of 5 people looking for every opening) and many have gone away never to return, due to ‘efficiencies’ and outsourcing and other factors.”

      But.. but.. but.. GreenJello was able to find a job. Really easily! Because he’s smart and a good worker! Random Internet responses trump statistics every time.

      Pretty much every BB post that so much as mentions a (whispers) … union … (shhh) brings out a bunch of comments urging people to give up and accept their fate, or quit and become rich investment bankers. As if Disney employees fighting for a better life might impede their chances of becoming the next Bill Gates.

      “Survival of the fittest, amirite?”

      ‘Social Darwinism’ bullshit is awful popular nowadays. I think it’s comforting to know that those that are suffering are solely responsible for their suffering. Combine social Darwinism with God-has-a-plan Christianity and you have a seriously warped individual. We really should take away their computers.

      1. But.. but.. but.. GreenJello was able to find a job. Really easily! Because he’s smart and a good worker! Random Internet responses trump statistics every time.

        No, because the recession is targeting those with less than a college education, like I said in my post.


        Personally for me, I’d like to think that things are done on merit. What have the Disney employees done to MERIT an increase in pay? (Not saying they haven’t) While this video highlights their pitiable struggle, it doesn’t answer that question. Instead it relies on emotional appeals, which are usually manipulative in nature. Unfortunately, this is usually the best way to get your way in our society, but I’d rather seem some facts.

        Also I think that the claims that Disney is making (or losing) X number of dollars are really unimportant. What is important is the contribution that the employees make to the company. The guy running the register should be making less than the guy running the park.

        1. Green,

          Furthermore, I believe you are wrong about the importance of how much the company is making.

          If the company were in terrible financial shape, then the employees obviously would not be asking for their raises.


          And they certainly aren’t asking for a raise that would put the newly hired minimum wage worker into the same pay scale as the “guy running the park.” If you are against emotional appeals you should also be against blatant exaggeration as a rhetorical technique.

          “The contribution employees make to the company…”

          That’s an interesting phrase. What do you mean by contribution?

  26. Having worked at wdw, yeah, I can say it can get pretty bad. But if you want to see something even worse, go work for the Disney cruise line. Working 70 hours a week, at $5 an hour. Then on your time off being told constantly what you can and can’t do or when you can or can’t get off the ship. Or just when you think you can sleep in they have to do an audio test over the ship’s PA system, blaring music over every speaker at 8am. That’s just the tip of the iceberg! It gets oh so much more worse.

  27. Disney deliberately destroyed their animation division after their CEO pocketed over 700 million in compensation.

    These people were not “unskilled labor.” (There is no such thing as unskilled labor. If there were, companies like Disney would be able to hire people without interviews or qualifications. Hint: they don’t.)

    In fact, they were skilled enough to regularly deliver nine figures in revenue to the top line. They cannot ever be replaced. They are like astronauts, or NFL quarterbacks. The title “Disney Animator” is unique.

    All of them were fired, en masse. An 80-year tradition of excellence and one of the only examples of original American culture was utterly destroyed for absolutely NO REASON AT ALL.

    Of course, Disney claimed “costs” were the reason, because apparently this is a company that simply cannot tolerate an American earning more than the minimum. Even at that, it was rare that any animator earned more than six figures.

    And after all that, after all the carping about costs, Disney turned around and wrote a seven BILLION dollar check to buy Pixar.

    So let’s hear the free marketers justify that one. Oh, and before you faceplant into the 2D vs. 3D trap: there are 400 animation studios in Japan that have no problem whatsoever earning billions with 2D animation.

    Disney destroyed their most profitable division for absolutely no reason at all, It is not surprising at all that they would see their other employees sink into poverty.

    It’s appalling and unforgivable what they are doing to these people, and it is the reason that I, like many other entertainment executives will never EVER do business with Disney.

    1. Animation studios in Japan have little problem making that money, but there are similar labor issues involving the individual animators–they typically make very little money. One figure I heard was around $12K/yr to work much longer hours than would be considered “full time” in the US.

      Here’s just one reference:

      There are others out there if you look for them.

  28. I went to Disneyland about a month ago and couldn’t stay in the park for more than an hour at any given time without crying my eyes out for these poor enslaved mousketeers. If something isn’t done I will not be going back for at least two years. That is my promise.

  29. My take on this is that it is time to get ride of all these corporate parasites who are sucking the rest of us dry.

    It is clear that the economy is broken and that the current world wide system of investors first customer next far behind and employee last at the bottom of the pit is unsustainable.

    The sooner we fix this massive problem the least painful it is going to be for everyone.

  30. Green and jonw, I understand why emotional appeals are disturbing to you.

    But reason and rational argumentation should also be disturbing to you.


    Because the intellectual apparatus of the world is underwritten by the board and top investors of Disney and other top corporations.

    You want us to believe that appeals to reason are pure and free of irrational influence, but that is not so, despite what is taught in our state-sanctioned institutes of higher learning.

    Rational argumentation and appeals to reason are as narrow and prone to bias as appeals to emotion.

    The esteemed doctors of philosophy who argue back and forth about what logic is, for example, and about what knowledge is, and about what language is, and about what argumentation is, and about what reason is, and about what emotion is, are paid to conduct such inquiries and teach it to the rest of us.

    Who are they paid by?

    Well, if they are an accredited university, they are sanctioned by the state. Who runs the state? The people? The moneyed people? The corporations?

    The people are irrational. The moneyed people want more money. The corporations want more money.

    When the bureaucracy sanctions thought in the schools, it is thought that serves the bureaucracy. It is not thought that is free from irrational bias, as you would like us to believe.

    Appeals to emotion are an important counterbalance to the rationalists who would have us believe in their ridiculous ideas of perfection and infallibility. But don’t worry, we emotionalists know better.

  31. To everyone here who supports the workers, let me just remind you that living in a capitalist society means that this kind of thing is GOOD. Anyone who seems to think because the company has good profits and is in good condition, they should be giving back to the workers, you are DEAD WRONG. That is the definition of Socialism and fairness doesn’t exist beyond your means to negotiate for it.

    Let me propose to you a situation. You are a shareholder and you buy one share with a starting value of 50 dollars. At the end of the year the company (Disney in this example) has a profit of say 100 million dollars. This means they can re-invest the money in Disney to hire more workers and build more attractions. So that 50 dollars you invested in the company to help them pay wages, and maintain their parks has now gained in value, to say the tune of 55 dollars. So you invested 50 dollars and you made 5. A 10% return, which is quite good!

    But hold on, Disney now comes out and says, instead of using that money to expand and create new attractions to attract more guests, we are going to increase the wages of everyone in the company so that they will have a better quality of living. Yay! that’s great! But it does nothing to increase the value of your stock, instead people sell Disney stock since its not making any money. That means there are more stock available to buy in the market, which means their value drops, and now its only worth 45 dollars, so instead of making money you have lost money.

    The moral of this story is that if Disney doesn’t do its best to provide the best value to its shareholders and make the most money possible, the shareholders might go somewhere else. Its not a “nice” thing, but investors are not charities, and will not put up with loosing money or a lack of performance for long. And when they leave, Disney would have less money to run its parks, and might have to lay people off or close some of its attractions.

    The only reason why the released these videos is because they have finally realized that they as employees have nothing to offer Disney that would be any better then what they get from their new part time hires. They are hoping that the videos will tarnish the image of Disney enough to get public attention. This will force Disney to pay them more money so that people keep coming to the parks.

    Right now, Disney is doing its very best to get the very best deal with they people who provide them with a service. That service is the job the employees are hired for. Disney doesn’t OWE them anything beyond what they make, and the employees don’t owe Disney anything. If they want more, they can strike for it or threaten to strike and then negotiate, but if you don’t have the cards, then maybe its time to fold.

    1. I for one would be very pleased if the U.S. moved to a more socialistic redistribution of resources. Do you think there are a bunch of right wing rednecks reading this blog during Glen Beck commercial breaks who are frightened by the idea of fair distribution of wealth?

      There are many factors that work against stock value.

      Do you think we should just remove ALL regulation from business, and really get those stock values soaring?

      That worked out really well in the finance industry over the last several years.

      Did you know that Disney has contracts with Blackwater? Perhaps they should direct those private troops to wipe out the competition. Maybe then the Shareholders could get a $60 return on $50. So, if your argument stands, it would be okay because it’s good for the stock value, right?

      And while we’re at it, they should work with the government to abolish the minimum wage and REDUCE the pay of the employees. Maybe we could get the return up to $65.

      Luckily, though, there are other factors besides the bottom line and the top line that go into stock value.

      Discontent workers pull shareholder value down.

      You paint a black and white picture of shareholder value. Actually, managers and board have to balance many factors against shareholder value. Disney stock is in good shape. To continue with your hypothetical, an increase in pay may effect a the profit line, but then again, an increase in pay might actually increase the profit line because the workers might actually do a better job.

      Further, appeasing discontent workers will represent a boost in shareholder confidence in the company, which is good for the stock value. A company that is running well is more attractive to shareholders than a company that is making videos about how shitty it is to work for Scrooge McScrooge.

      Furthermore, just like there are very many people who want to WORK at Disney, there are many people who want to INVEST in Disney. Especially when the employees are being treated well.

      Perhaps Disney could get a little creative. Give the workers a raise, and do a big PR campaign about it. Hey, stock price goes up because the company did something good!


    2. By that argument no one should ever get rasie If they work for a public company, not even the CEO, oh but wait he has to make a raise because he did great things for us. We so did the front line workers, the ones the guests see, the public face of the company. Most people would not know that they were meeting Bob Iger if he was in the park, but they do know that in all but a few cases the cast members they meet with give them the highest service.

      Walt said it best when he talked about you could have the best park in the world, but it is the employees that it work. What if different from a six flags type park, the people. Employees that care about making peoples vacations the best that they can. This is not pixie dust I am shooting out of my ass, but it is what happens on a day to day basis in the parks. What happens when I see a piece of garbage when walking across the park on my way to break or lunch, I pick it up. It is not my job to do that in the least, but that is what we all do. The same when a guest asks a question. Have you ever been to a park and asked a cast member a question and heard, I am on break? No, because we as employees relize that we want the company to do well, so we can have jobs and we can do well.

      Thus leads us to the break down that is happening now. The company is doing well. So I have to ask, what about my dreams? What about my family? What about my co-workers and their families? You have asked for facts and here they are.

      The company has offered raises, that is true, I will not and cannot say that is not happening. But the price of health insurance is going up again this year and the next and the next, this affectively leave a lot of the cast with less money then before this proposed contract cycle. Thus a pay cut. That is what this is about, we do not want to in effect take a pay cut. Put that with too many years “of taking one for the team” and not receiving a cost of living incress, or at least one that would match inflation, and the cast is sickened by this. We understand that it has been a rough couple of years, but that is no reason to make all of us suffer when the stock price has gone up by half since I started 4 years ago. I feel for the investor that will on see that type of return and “needs” a better return. And it would be nice to be able to afford to buy some stock, but most of the cast cannot. The facts are simple, if we take the rates that were being paid 10 years ago and correct them for infletion, then most of us are making half as much as we made then.

      We were told time and time the company could not afford to give us rasies, but enough is enough. We played ball to many times and most of us are sick of having rules changed on us. We are not asking for much, just that we do not take a pay cut. I do not think that is too much to ask for.

      Some of you ask what have we done to deserve this? Think about the last time you came to the parks and all the little things that we do to make your trip special. We add value to your trip. We make it less painful when you bought that $80 park ticket, because you knew that you were going to have an amazing time, one that you might remember for the rest of your lives. And that converts people that might come once into life long customers, and it transfers across generations.

      The Disney Instatute is a program that Disney set up to teach other companies what make Disney so good at what they do. Lesson one in that program, the employees make the difference. That is what we have done to deserve not to take a pay cut. Pure and simple.

  32. “Instead it relies on emotional appeals, which are usually manipulative in nature. Unfortunately, this is usually the best way to get your way in our society, but I’d rather seem some facts.”

    I’d agree with this. Tilly, not sure where you’re going with the state-sponsored philosophy professors and logic classes. Emotional appeals work when they successfully stimulate emotion. To do that there has to be some believability behind them. It’s neither good nor bad but rather a tool that can be used for good or bad purposes. In this case it seems that it’s being used for a decent purpose, but used poorly.

    1. “Instead it relies on emotional appeals, which are usually manipulative in nature. Unfortunately, this is usually the best way to get your way in our society, but I’d rather seem some facts.”

      Yes I was a little out to lunch there in a long winded way. I agree with you that emotional appeal is a tool with a valid place in an organization’s communicative tool box.

      I get tired of people who position Reason as an infallible Prince Valiant type who can do no wrong while suggesting Emotion is some shifty swindler lurking in the shadows. You know? That’s the impression I get from the above quoted material.

      And further, what exactly are the facts he wants in a situation like this?

      The financial statements of the company? The actual pay and pay history of all company employees? Average local and nation-wide pay comparisons for similar work at other companies? Employee manuals? Transcripts of employee meetings? Investor meetings? A comparison of management statements and actions? First-person testimony from all sides?

      And you will start to get into intangibles and abstractions and philosophy as you begin to debate the facts(?) of the value of time, relative merit of job duties, etc.

      This is where you get into money and power shaping the intellectual milieu of the debate.

      So Green belittles appeals to emotion, and then calls for a bunch of facts that really aren’t going to be forthcoming in the discussion. That’s annoying.

      On a separate note:
      I might make an observation that this conversation has seemed to reverse the roles of “political left and right” with regard to emotion and reason.

      In national politics, it seems the left generally wants to be the party of reason and the right seems happy to be the party of emotion.

      Now in this labor dispute, people on the left, who support the union and workers, seem to be supporting the appeal to emotion, while people siding with the management, people who I would guess fall somewhere on the right, want to be on the side of reason.


  33. The same societal problem core – translated into Disney.

    People say “its a crisis” there is no money.
    Then say “cope with it”…

    What they forget to say is: TODAY there is more money in the world that the day before, and tomorrow there will be more.

    The questions pretty much no one is asking are:

    How do money really work?
    Who runs the rules for money?
    If so, who took all the money?
    What are they doing with it?
    For how long are we going to let infinitely greedy individuals and groups LEGALLY rob us?
    For how long will we stand by swallow the fact that we have to ask A government permission for almost every productive activity in society and then part with about half our income that goes into dubious taxes, funding people that utterly abuse their monopoly on: life, death, justice, freedom, murder, war, pestilence, law, and pretty much every key activity in society.

    Pretty much every problem in society is generated by the UNTHINKABLE amount of bullshit we have cultivated over the ages.

    And it all hangs on the FOOLISH presumption that someone OWES you a living/life quality and so on.

    “But I have been to school, I go to work and I paid my taxes.”
    -Tell that to whoever from the anti-riot forces gets the task of smacking your skull as martial law is declared when the billions of “LAW ABIDING CITIZENS” finally figure out the concept that handing someone a weapon does not mean he/she/it won’t turn it against you.

    I mean seriously… Most people have the idiocy to talk about sovereignty… REALLY? Sovereignty? Close the borders for all people, goods and financial instruments and see all the “Best nations” collapse back into medieval times.

    Almost every nation on this planet tolerates their government to produce and sell weapons that can kill you RIGHT NOW.

    Whats a little poverty, famine, disease, genocide?
    So long as were getting paid off no one notices right?

    Now when the bag of bullshit starts to smell everyone starts to whine. Well whine all you want. Disney probably has more subliminal messaging than most people could wrap their head around.

    We’d better start developing “THINKING” real quick, because adopting and repeating “what the newscaster said” is going to put many “law abiding citizens” to bed with shovels.

    Once you brake down everything to the basic human behavior patterns it all gets very repetitive and boring.

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