[This originally appeared on EyesOn11.com September 21, 2020.]
The City of Anaheim is asking California to issue reopening safety protocols for theme parks, “citing that the city is facing unprecedented financial woes due to the closure of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.” The city currently has a $100 million deficit, and a 15 percent unemployment rate.
Unite Here Local 11’s members aren’t faring much better. Turns out, it’s a small world after all when it comes to the impact of coronavirus. The union admitted over 90 percent of its members had been laid off due to COVID-19 — including Disney theme park workers. A drop in theme park tourism has also led to a drop in hotel usage — another industry that’s heavily organized by Local 11. Of the 142 hotels in the city, only half are even open right now.
You’d think the union would support getting its rank and file back to work, especially since Local 11 still expects laid off members to pay dues. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
In June, it looked like hotel employees might finally get their jobs back. Instead of cheering this progress, the union called for hotels throughout Los Angeles County to pause any reopening efforts. Local 11’s main concern was that the County’s Board of Supervisors didn’t “consult or solicit input” from the union. Now, Local 11 co-president Ada Briceño continues to kick the reopening can down the road, saying the governor should only “reopen theme parks when it’s safe.”
But plenty of other theme parks across the country have been able to reopen safely. According to the latest report, “No Covid-19 outbreaks have been reported at Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Legoland, and Cedar Fair parks in Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio New Jersey, Virginia and Michigan according to state health agencies and theme park officials.” Apparently, hundreds if not thousands of workers across the country were allowed to return to their jobs safely — just not in Los Angeles.
For Disney park employees eager to get back to work, they might have better luck wishing upon a star than relying on union leaders.