Disney’s Magic Kingdom Losing Its Sparkle For Workers

by Bruce Vail

The Service Trades Council, an association of six union locals representing over 35,400 Disney employees, is negotiating a new contract with the resort. (Walt Disney World International Program/Creative Commons)

As workers prepare to negotiate new labor agreements at Walt Disney World, some union members are wondering whether the magic has disappeared from the “happiest place on earth.”

The resort’s largest labor contract, which covers some 35,400 workers, is due to expire at the end of March. Though formal negotiations toward a new agreement haven’t yet begun, says Ed Chambers, president of Lakeland, Fla.-based United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1625, there are already signs of difficulties ahead.

Chambers leads a coalition of six different union locals known as the Service Trades Council, which will hammer out new contracts with Disney in the coming months. According to Chambers, the council saw its first clear signs of unrest in August 2013, when resort managers offered to extend the existing contract for another 16 months and raise wages 3.5 percent. Though the council ultimately declined the offer, he says, some union leaders are now unsure whether Disney can be convinced to improve on it. Continue reading

Walmart Organizing Dilemma: Publicity Strikes without Publicity

by Wade Rathke

boycott-wal-mart-shareNew Orleans     We are now several weeks past Black Friday, the annual shopping extravaganza that seems to defy logic, but one hardcore, working mother desperate for Christmas bargains defined it as her annual “Super Bowl of shopping.”   Walmart company representatives have described this year’s day after Thanksgiving shopping blowout as their best ever.

OUR Walmart, the UFCW’s Walmart workers organizing campaign, had declared that there would be more than a 1000 protests around the country with thousands of Walmart workers striking to protest abysmal wages and working conditions.  The company claims that there were no more strikers in 2013 than they had seen in 2012.  Yet, clearly giving the rollup it has to be unquestionable that there were more actions in 2013, whether rallies or demonstrations or witnessing or whatever, but were there more strikers and under any circumstances how do we prove the point and move forward?

And, that’s the organizing dilemma.  What happens when you issue the call for these kind of publicity strikes and people come, but no one knows?   Does it have any effect?  Is this a tree falling in the forest that is heard or ignored? Continue reading

IBEW Chimes In with Obamacare Concerns

By Bruce Vail

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage.   (From the IBEW website)

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage. (From the IBEW website)

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) added its voice last week to the growing number of labor unions with complaints about how President Barack Obama is handling implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

The 725,000-member IBEW released a white paper on July 11 calling for changes to how the law treats multi-employer plans (also known as Taft-Hartley plans). These plans, which are jointly administered by unions and their employers, are endangered by the ACA because it will discourage employers from participating in the plans, and place some existing union employers at a financial disadvantage. The health insurance of more than 350,000 IBEW members covered by such plans is at risk, says IBEW spokesperson Jim Spellane. Continue reading