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Disneyland Artists Vote to Union: NPR

Disneyland Artists Vote to Union: NPR

Disney characters lead a parade to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday at Disneyland in November 2018.

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Disney characters lead a parade to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday at Disneyland in November 2018.

Bulletin/Getty Images

Turns out Disneyland isn’t the happiest place on Earth.

At least, not for some of the workers who roam the park like Mickey Mouse, Elsa, Chewbacca and other beloved Disney characters.

In the union elections that ended Saturday, representatives based in Anaheim, California, voted overwhelmingly to unionize, by 953 votes to 258. The employees will be represented by the Actors’ Equity Association, a union known for representing actors and stage managers in the United States. Broadway.

The election was open to about 1,700 employees in the character and parade departments, including those who roam Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park to greet visitors and perform in the daily parades.

The union drive arose out of the pandemic, when performers began to have health and safety concerns about sharing costumes and physical contact with visitors, including hugs from loving children.

Like many other workers in Southern California, Disney employees also found that their base wages — which rose from $20 to $24.15 in January — did not keep up with the rising costs of living.

The workers calling themselves Magic United, who are leading the organizing campaign, have called for higher wages and more reliable schedules, noting that the show’s performers in particular have difficulty getting full-time hours.

Mai Fu, who first got a job at Disneyland when she was 16 and went to college to perform a number of Disney characters, says there is a feeling of exhaustion that comes with the job.

“[It] “It’s really hard to make magic when you’re exhausted,” she says.

“We support our cast members’ right to a secret vote that recognizes their individual choices,” Disneyland said in a statement, noting that non-union employees receive annual raises and paid sick leave that are consistent with industry standards.

Most other workers at Disneyland, including stage performers and hospitality workers at the resort’s hotels, are already unionized. The show’s performers and characters at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, have been represented by the Teamsters for decades.