Union in strife as Disney and Teamsters prepare for talks – Florida Politics (blog)
As negotiations start this month over wage increases at Walt Disney World, rebellion is brewing in one of the six unions that advocate for the resort’s 70,000 workers.
Many of the performers who entertain guests as Mickey Mouse, the Seven Dwarves and other costumed characters are Teamsters, and some are fed up with how their union is being run. For the first time in recent memory, they’re putting together a slate of opposition candidates, promising to make this fall’s vote for the leadership of Teamsters Local 385 anything but a heigh-ho-hum affair.
“It’s a rat’s nest down there,” said John “Spike” Coskey, who served on the local’s executive committee until he was fired after arguing with a former president.
The 9,000 members of Local 385 have key roles in central Florida’s tourism and transportation industries. About half are Disney workers; the rest include UPS drivers, hotel employees, food service workers, rental car employees and other drivers across 20 Florida counties.
Local 385 member Ralph Singer said national Teamsters leaders have ignored his complaints because the local is flush with cash. Records filed with the U.S. Department of Labor shows Local 385 collected almost $3.6 million in dues and fees last year — an average of $400 per member — and had $2.3 million in net assets.
“Because they’ve got plenty of money, nobody cares,” said Singer, a truck driver at Disney who plans to run on the opposition slate. “It’s a cash cow. Nobody cares.”
The unhappiness in Local 385 comes as Walt Disney World management opens talks with the six-union council, which represents about half the theme park resort’s workforce. New employees start at $10 an hour, and a council statement said negotiators will push for “significant increases to lift Cast Members out of poverty.”
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