Walt Disney World workers land deal for $15 minimum wage

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(CNN Money) – Disney reached a deal with unions that would hike the minimum wage for Walt Disney World Resort workers to $15 an hour by 2021, signaling a possible end to contract negotiations that have dragged on for nearly a year.

The tentative contract agreement, which covers thousands of park and resort employees, would increase starting wages by 50%. Workers would also get the $1,000 bonuses they were promised earlier this year.

The agreement, announced by Disney on Saturday, will be voted on by union members on September 5.

“This is the largest proposal ever offered by Walt Disney World Resort with significant pay raises for current, non-tipped Cast Members,” the company said in an emailed statement Saturday, using its nickname for employees. “This offer also includes retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or 3 percent, whichever is greater, for all hours worked back to Sept. 24, 2017.”

Disney previously threatened not to pay out the $1,000 bonuses amid contentious negotiations with the Service Trades Council Union, or STCU, which represents multiple unions covering more than 30,000 employees at the park and resort.

Both sides praised the deal.

Robbin Almand, vice president of labor relations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company was “thrilled” to offer “what is one of the highest entry-level service wages in the country.”

Unite Here Local 362, an affiliate of STCU, celebrated the deal in a tweet.

“Historic raises, $1,000 bonus & no changes to our important rights & protections!” the tweet read. “Congratulations everyone!”

Disney employees covered by the deal include food service, custodial, hotel and park workers.

If the deal is ratified, the minimum wage will climb incrementally over the next three years before hitting $15 per hour in October of 2021.

Disney reached a deal in July to lift minimum hourly wages to $15 for Disneyland workers in Anaheim, California beginning next year. That agreement also ended a long battle with union representatives.

The company signaled in June that it was willing to offer a $15 minimum wage to Walt Disney World employees, but negotiations remained hamstrung over certain provisions Disney wanted to include in the new contract. They included rules governing scheduling and how employees are paid for working overtime and holidays, Unite Here Local 362 president Eric Clinton told CNN at the time.

Neither Clinton nor other union representatives could be reached for additional comment Saturday.

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