ORLANDO, Fla. — Union members with the Services Trade Council voted to approve a contract with Disney that would raise the starting wage to $18 an hour on Wednesday.

Union leaders reported that over 12,500 cast members voted, and 97% of them voted to support the contract reached with Disney. 

Disney leadership reacted quickly to the vote. 

"Our cast members have always been at the heart of the Walt Disney World experience, and we are thrilled that, with the support of the union, they have overwhelmingly approved this new five-year agreement that significantly increases wages, alongside our leading benefits program that includes affordable medical coverage and more. Frontline employees also have access to 100 percent paid tuition for higher education through the Disney Aspire program," President of the Walt Disney World Resort Jeff Vahle said in a statement.

Representatives from the Services Trade Council — which represents 45,000 theme park workers — and Walt Disney World said that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new multiyear employment contract earlier this month.

What You Need To Know

  • A tentative agreement between Disney World and its unions to boost starting pay to $18 per hour was approved Wednesday

  • The Services Trade Council scheduled the vote after reaching an agreement with Disney

  • The deal ends months of negotiations between the parties

  • Representatives from six affiliate unions said they will recommend members approve the agreement, the STCU said

The agreement provides for a raise that would bring the salary for all Disney World theme park workers who are union members to $18 per hour minimum this year, STCU representatives said.

According to the trade council, six STCU affiliates — IATSE Local 631, IBT Local 385, TCU Local 1908, UFCW Local 1625, UNITE HERE Local 362, and UNITE HERE Local 737 — have said they unanimously support the agreement and recommended that members ratify it.

“Securing an $18.00 minimum hourly rate this year, increasing the overall economic value of Disney’s original offer, and ensuring full back pay for every worker, are the priorities union members were determined to fight for," STCU President Matt Hollis said. “Today, we won that fight!”

Under the terms of the agreement, workers in job classifications that now earn the minimum of $15 per hour will get a pay increase to $16 effective Oct. 1, 2022, with full back pay to all eligible union workers. That would increase again to $17 upon ratification of the agreement and to $18 in December.

Union workers’ total raise will be $5.50 in five years, with the first $3 coming by December 2023. Workers in many classifications will receive additional increases, with raises retroactive to October 2022.

The minimum rate for current workers will increase to $20.50 by October 2026. The minimum rate for workers hired after December 3, 2023 will increase to $20 by October 2026. The tentative deal also calls for eight weeks of “child bonding leave,” a benefit not offered in the current contract.

The contract agreement ends extended negotiations between Walt Disney World and its unions. Members had rejected a previous proposal in February.

In reaction to the announced agreement, Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle released the following statement:

Our cast members are central to Walt Disney World’s enduring magic, which is why we are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement. Disney is proud to offer an industry-leading employment package that includes comprehensive benefits and affordable medical coverage, in addition to 100 percent paid tuition for higher education for hourly employees through the Disney Aspire program. With the support of the unions, we anticipate cast members will approve this new agreement.