U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont, brought his class warfare road show to Anaheim this past Saturday, tossing out the standard progressive tropes about “corporate greed” and throwing his support behind a union initiative to impose an $18 an hour minimum wage on targeted Anaheim Resort businesses.
Sanders tried to imbue the union initiative with a moral patina: Sanders and the unions are moral champions of the downtrodden, while Disney and Resort businesses are immoral, exploitative and greedy. Progressive-Left politicos like Sanders employ that kind of rhetoric to mask the reality that their economic policies are stunted and don’t work in real life. Sanders and the Berniecrats talk about the world as if it was still 1932.
The reality is the Resort union coalition’s minimum wage initiative is an attempt to use the coercive power of government to achieve what these unions have failed to achieve at the bargaining table. That failure in a time of tight labor markets and nearly full employment speaks volumes about the ineffectiveness of UNITE-HERE Local 11 and its Resort union allies.
Last week, the Disneyland Resort offered to increase the minimum wage of Master Services Council-represented cast members by 36% over three-years. That would put those cast members at a $15 minimum wage – two years before state law boosts it to that level.
The Master Services Council represents about 9,500 hourly cast members who work in attractions, store operations, custodial, main entrance, costuming, resort transportation & parking, onsite distribution center and select cast in team centers and bakery/confection. It consist of the following unions:
- Teamsters Automotive, Industrial, Theme Park, Service Sector, and Allied Workers Local 495
- United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 324 (UFCW)
- Service Employees International Union – United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW)
- Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union, Local 83
If accepted and ratified, these cast members would see their minimum wage immediately go from $11 to $13.25 per hour, then to $14.25 in 2019 and to $15 in 2020.
The Disneyland Resort and other Resort business want good employees. The competition for those employees in a tight labor market tends to put upward pressure on wages.
The reality is there is upward mobility for workers at the Disneyland Resort and other Anaheim Resort business. Some three-quarters of Disneyland management worked their way up from the hourly cast member ranks, because the company provides multiple pathways to learn and rise and be promoted from within. 89 percent of entry-level leadership roles in parks operations in the last five years have been filled by hourly cast members.
Earlier this year, Disney announced it would commit an initial $50 million – and at least $25 million annually thereafter – to provide tuition assistance and other support for its employees who are interested in earning a college degree or acquiring more job skills through vocational training. Companies spend that kind of money because investing in the education and training of employees is smart business that benefits all involved. If the “corporate greed” narrative of Bernie Sanders and his acolytes were true, these companies would simply add those millions to the mountains of profit that so torture the consciences of progressive activists,
In addition, the company provides multiple training and career development opportunities. The fact that so many cast members want to make their career at Disney parks speaks to the strength of the overall employment experience, with 86 percent saying they are proud of their roles and the work they do, and 90 percent who believe Disney is a leader in the marketplace.
The Disneyland Resort employment numbers has 10,000 new jobs in recent years – for a total of 30,000 employees – making the resort the largest employer in Orange County. Thousands more operations jobs will be added to that number following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and other expansion project – and that doesn’t include 2,000 construction jobs since 2016.
The class warfare rhetoric of Sanders, the Coalitions of Resort Labor Unions, and their political allies, just doesn’t bear up when staked against the economic reality. Furthermore, their policy solutions – using government to dictate arbitrary and noncompetitive wage floors – destroy rather than create jobs and undercut prospects for advancement for the very people they claim to be helping.