Many of us in the Central Florida area have been employed at the Mouse House at some point over the years. Some have gone on to work at all the other theme parks in the area as well, while others stayed true to Walt and his ideals. Earlier this week, USA Today posted a story about 8 companies that owe workers a raise and then Examiner.com wrote a follow up asking if the Walt Disney Company should increase wages. Needless to say, as these two postings went live they also went viral on my Facebook news feed.
USA Today’s researched showed that the average pay for cast members comes out to a meager $8.47 an hour and that is what prompted Examiner.com to explain how most of those employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck. While Disney does have approximately 166,000 cast members (or employees to those who haven’t worked for the company before), about 65,000 of those come just from the Central Florida area. Some times I wonder if the company realizes the paycheck-to-paycheck living situation of their employees and if that is the reason they pay people weekly instead of bi-weekly.
Thinking that there are cast members that go to work each day, are on the front line directly with guests that can’t be won over due to typical summer weather conditions, and they only get $8.47 an hour for all they handle makes me cringe a bit despite how much I loved my years on the front line with the company. I will admit that working in entertainment made my experiences with guests very different from that of someone in a quick service food location or at the turnstiles, but that doesn’t mean I too didn’t live paycheck-to-paycheck at the time.
Working in an hourly role was an amazing opportunity when I was in college and only had to fend for myself. I can’t imagine being in an hourly front line position and having a family to care for on the paycheck I used to receive. In 2010, after contract negotiations has been going on for more than six months with Disney, MouseTrapped 2010 was created and posted on YouTube so the voices of front line cast members could be heard. It broke my heart to know that others were seeking government aid and turning to church food shelters in order to get by.
What stuck like a Mac truck was the question of who would run the parks in the future. Watching the videos it occurred to me that these people were implying that the front line cast members couldn’t be the ones to move up the ranks and take over one day. They made it sound as if there wasn’t a single cast member that would be eligible and I began to wonder what on earth gave them an idea like that. If they didn’t feel they would, could or wanted to move up the ranks then why did they assume no one around them would, could or wanted to either? Clearly that strikes a big nerve for me.