Disney Workers Tired of Mickey Mouse Wages

One of the world’s oldest and largest theme parks—Disneyland in Anaheim, California—invites tourists to “Get More Happy.” But the resort’s 20,000 regular employees and 3,000 contract workers just want to get more money in their paychecks so they can support themselves and their families.

Not Living the Disneyland Dream. Seventy-three percent of the theme park’s workers don’t earn enough to pay for basic necessities such as rent, food, and gasoline for their cars, according to a study by researchers from Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable (appropriately titled, “Working for the Mouse”).

  • Two-thirds of these workers don’t have enough food to eat three meals, and 11 percent have also been homeless.
  • Tara Quint, who cleans the park at night, said, “I am on food stamps. I have a lot of health problems, and I can’t even afford the medical insurance that they have us do weekly out of our checks.”
  • Rebecca Petersen, a licensed cosmetologist who works as a makeup artist at the theme park, said she has to live out of her car.

Poverty Amidst Plenty. While its workers are having a hard time making ends meet in an expensive region, profits at Disney’s parks increased by 21 percent to an eye-popping $1.35 billion in the final quarter of 2017.

A Living Wage. That’s why Disneyland unions, including SEIU, UNITE HERE, and IATSE are supporting a ballot initiative that would require any large hotel or resort subsidized by the city of Anaheim to pay its workers at least $15/hour by next year, with wages rising by $1 every year through 2022.