Disneyland is supposed to be “The Happiest Place on Earth”. It’s supposed to be a place “where dreams come true”. Oh yes, and it’s supposed to be the place “where magic lives”. All in all, Disney has made us associate all these wonderful things with their flagship OC theme park.
But for the many thousands of workers at Disneyland, they’re not seeing any of the “magic”. They’ve been working without a contract since February because Disney refuses to agree to a new contract that allows decent wages & basic health care access for their hotel workers. Even though these workers struggle just to afford the basics here in OC, one of the most expensive places to live, Disney wants them to pay $100 or more per month out of pocket for health care (if they’re even covered by the plan). And worse, Disney refuses to pay any of their workers enough to actually afford this new plan. In fact, Disney also wants to create a two-tier system that leaves
newer workers with even LOWER WAGES AND NO HEALTH CARE BENEFITS WHATSOEVER.
This is why the workers, along with many more supporters in the community, took to the streets on Thursday.
All the hundreds of Disney workers who showed up to protest Disney’s betrayal of its hotel workers was an amazing sight to witness. But if that wasn’t enough, people from all parts to the community showed up in solidarity. Workers from United Domestic Workers (AFSCME), SEIU, & the Orange County Employees Association were present to support their union brothers & sisters. OC Young
Democrats & the LGBT advocacy group ECCO were present to stand with their progressive allies. Progressive Muslim & Christian social justice activists were present to show what God’s love really looks like when in action. All in all, there was a diverse crowd that had united to support the workers.
Even local elected leaders like Anaheim City Council Member Lorri Galloway & Santa Ana City Council Member Michele Martinez came to lend some support. Oh yes, and a UNITE HERE organizer in Orlando, FL, came here to announce to the Anaheim hotel workers that the Disney World workers stand united in solidarity with their brothers & sisters here in OC. That was truly something to behold.
Still, what ultimately amazed me was the march to the Disneyland Gate. After everyone had gathered at the Paradise Pier Hotel, they all took to the streets & marched all the way to the theme park entrance at Harbor Blvd. As everyone was marching, I was noticing the shocked tourists who were gawking at the workers. Some pulled out their cameras in disbelief while one shouted obscenities at one of the workers. One comment that still sticks in my mind is one made by a protesting worker to one of the shocked tourists holding a camera: “We’re the ones who make the magic.”
As everyone coalesced around the Disneyland Gate, the police were already waiting. They had their plastic handcuffs out, and they were ready to proceed with mass arrests. As soon as some of the workers began their act of civil disobedience in shutting down traffic by sitting in the middle of Harbor Blvd., they were arrested. It didn’t matter they have been working without a contract for over six months, and that they were being asked to live without health care and a livable wage. The workers were blocking tourist traffic, so they had to be removed.
As I think about the events on Thursday, I keep coming back to the quote from the worker to the tourist. “We’re the ones who make the magic.” And this is how they’re “rewarded”? With a wage they can’t support their families on? With an unaffordable excuse for “health care”? The magic makers can’t live on pixie dust.
When will the magic makers see a happy ending of their own? When will Disney put an end to this nightmare for their hotel workers? How many more reminders like this one be made about all the unpleasant unrest at “The Happiest Place on Earth”?
What about the ones that make the magic happen?