By Noah Goldberg
Recently the Walt Disney Company announced that it will be increasing the minimum hourly rate for its employees at the Walt Disney World Resort to $15 by the year 2021. This pay hike, along with a $1,000 bonus to all full-time employees at the vacation resort, was agreed upon following a near week long contract negotiation with union representatives. The news was cause for celebration for most of the workers affected because they were anticipating the $1,000 bonus since the beginning of 2018 when Disney initially announced it.
The delay in shelling out the bonuses to the theme park workers was a negotiating tactic used by Disney to put strain upon the unions when settling the dispute over the hourly wage hike. Although both parties involved with the wage increase seem relieved over the news, I believe Disney is simply using the pay increase to garner positive publicity rather than trying to help their employees live more comfortably.
The most important factor to take into consideration for this resort-wide wage hike is the fact that it does not take full effect until 2021. It is my belief that by the time the starting wage finally reaches $15 in 2021, it will be time for another pay increase for Walt Disney World Resort employees. As it stands, there are many people working in the Orlando theme park that cannot afford a living space of their own, let alone support a family.
Due to the gradual implementation of the pay increase, it is my belief that employees are going to continue to bear the same financial hardships that are currently upon them. If Disney wanted to truly help the bottom line of their theme park employees’ situation, then the $15 base wage would be put in place all at once rather than in gradual increases for the next two to three years.
I fear this situation is going to lead to a greater dependence by Disney on their college program and its use in their Orlando theme park. As it stands, Disney pays the members of their college program a significant amount less than their full-time employees for the same jobs under the guise of providing valuable experience in a large corporation. The pay increase for full-time employees will certainly incentivize Disney to expand the amount of college program members working in the resort in the attempt to improve their profit margins. I theorize that this penny-pinching on the side of Disney is in no small part due to the recent large investments made by the company including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox at the price of $71.3 billion.
The combination of these two factors putting strain on Disney’s bottom line is not only going to hurt the consumer, who will soon be receiving a less polished experience with the company, but also the theme park employees who will continue to struggle to keep a roof over their heads.