Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bernie Sanders calls out Walt Disney Co. for poverty-level wages

"The time is now to have an economy that works for everyone, not just a handful of billionaires."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), took aim at Walt Disney Company at a rally he hosted on Tuesday in Anaheim, California with labor groups and employees of the largest and wealthiest media company in the world. Walt Disney Co. is known for “showering its executives and investors with millions of dollars while lower-level workers continue earning ‘poverty wages’ that make it nearly impossible to make ends meet,” Common Dreams reported.

While Disney is receiving a $267 million dollar tax break, a recent survey, “Working for the Mouse,” conducted by Occidental determined that the majority of Disneyland resort workers struggle to “make ends meet.” The survey concluded that 11 percent of resort workers were homeless within the past two years, 36 percent forgo daily necessities in order to pay monthly health insurance premiums and 68 percent are food insecure.

“We are talking about a company that has received huge tax breaks from the tax payers here in Anaheim, but in addition to that, received over $1 billion in tax breaks from Trump’s tax giveaway to the wealthy,” Sanders said at the rally at the Anaheim Convention Center. “The time is now to have an economy that works for everyone, not just a handful of billionaires.”

The Observer reported: “ongoing contract negotiations between the Big Mouse and employees and an announcement by a coalition of 11 labor unions representing Disneyland workers proclaiming that they collected the 21,000 signatures required to put a ballot measure before Anaheim voters this November that would require Walt Disney Co. and other large Anaheim employers that accept city subsidies to pay the resort workers a ‘living wage.'”

While the Walt Disney Co. is just one one of the corporations Sen. Sanders is holding accountable for its poverty-level wages, he and the Fight For $15 movement – a grassroots campaign – are fighting for thousands of underpaid workers and organizing for union rights.

In response to Sen. Sanders comments at the round table discussion, Disneyland Resort issued a statement on Thursday stating the resort proposed a “36 percent increase in starting wages over three years for Master Services cast members.” The resort is calling the increase “one of the most significant increases in its history,” according to a press release. The proposal will increase the minimum wage by 20 percent for cast members in which the starting rate will rise from $11 to $13.25 this year and up to $14.25 in 2019 with the intent to reach $15 by 2020.

“We currently are negotiating one of the largest union contracts at Disneyland Resort, with an offer that increases starting wages of 36 percent over three years, paying $15 an hour by 2020 – two years ahead of California’s minimum wage,” Suzi Brown, vice president, Disneyland Resort Communications, said. “In addition, we are launching an education program that will help hourly cast members pursue skills and degrees to further their careers. We are proud of our commitment to our cast, and the fact that more people choose to work at Disneyland Resort than anywhere else in Orange County. While Mr. Sanders continues to criticize Disney to keep himself in the headlines, we continue to support our cast members through investments in wages and education.”

This story was updated to reflect information Disneyland Resort directly provided NationOfChange.

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