Disneyland character performers announce plans to unionize

By Thomson Reuters Feb 13, 2024 | 5:38 PM

(Reuters) – Performers of Disney’s cartoon characters such as Mickey, Donald and Goofy at its Disneyland theme park are looking to join Actors’ Equity Association, a labor union representing those who work in live theatrical performance.

The union said on Tuesday it would seek voluntary recognition from Disney Resort Entertainment when a majority of the workers have signed union authorization cards.

If the company declines to recognize the union, Equity will then file the cards with the National Labor Relations Board, it added.

In November last year, 10 of Walt Disney’s animation workers were attempting to unionize and seek representation from the Animation Guild as they sought better benefits and pay.

Disney was one of the media giants affected by the 118-day SAG-AFTRA strike last year as performers demanded higher pay and protection against the use of artificial intelligence.

“Disney workers are openly and powerfully invested in and loyal to the Walt Disney Company and its values, so it’s reasonable for them to expect ‘the happiest place on earth’ to pay them fairly and prioritize their health and safety,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association.

Disney will be required under federal law to sit down with Equity’s representatives at the bargaining table and negotiate a contract following a vote in favor to unionize, the union added.

Other parties included in the bargaining unit are hosts, trainers and other roles that support the cast members.

The Actors’ Equity Association represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers.

(Reporting by Zaheer Kachwala in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)