After reaching agreements with worker unions, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida—the largest single-site employer in the country—will furlough 43,000 more of its unionized workers in a little more than a week.
- Though the furloughs are set to begin April 19, workers will be able to keep their insurance benefits for the furlough period, or up to a year, The Service Trades Council Union, a coalition of six locals that represent Disney workers, announced Saturday on Facebook Live.
- Last week, the House of Mouse said it would furlough executive, salaried and hourly non-union employees who aren’t necessary at the moment.
- About 200 Walt Disney World employees with “essential duties” will continue to be based on-site during the closure, and will be offered positions based on seniority, the union said.
- According to terms outlined by the union, Disney will pay for coronavirus testing for any employee covered by Disney insurance who needs it.
- The affected employees work as security guards or in facilities and operations, according to ABC Action News.
- According to The Orlando Sentinel, Disney World is prepared to furlough most of its 77,000 employees, both union and non-union—a statistic that would triple Orlando’s unemployment rate.
Crucial quote: “Things are really looking bad. The economy is going to take time to recover,” University of Florida economics professor Hector Sandoval told The Orlando Sentinel about the Disney furloughs.
Key background: The initial closings of Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California were only meant to last until the end of March—but about two weeks ago, it was announced the parks will stay closed until further notice, according to a Disney statement, “in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials,” as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spread. At the time, Disney said they would continue paying hourly employees working at parks and resorts through mid-April.
Tangent: Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, Disney’s rivals, also closed their gates in March out of fear of the coronavirus, with SeaWorld reporting it had furloughed 90% of employees across its 12 parks.
What to watch for: A domino effect in Central Florida. With Walt Disney World’s massive operations, their closure and furlough means less business for smaller groups that rely on the entertainment giant, like restaurants, hotels and car rental companies in the area.