ANAHEIM, Ca. (WTVO) – The “Happiest Place on Earth” is being sued by 25,000 of their workers, under the pretense that they are underpaid and that they are legally obligated to receive a living wage.
A survey of 5,000 workers, or cast members, reportedly showed that due to the low pay, they are experiencing difficult living conditions, according to the study “Working for the Mouse,” conducted by Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable.
According to the study, 11% of employees had reported experiencing homelessness in the previous two years before the study. In addition to this, 73% said they are not earning enough for basic living expenses, with 68% saying that they were food insecure.
“I couldn’t make it on minimum wage, which is how much they pay me,” said Gabriel Sarracino to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sarracino, who has worked for 15 years at the Disneyland Hotel as a valet, said that the recent decision by leadership that prevents valets from handling luggage has greatly decreased his earnings, as he used to be tipped for doing just that.
“If they are going to make changes where I have less opportunity for tips, then that’s half my income [gone],” Sarracino said. “I hope to someday buy a house. That extra money — I should be able to invest in my community and help my children have an edge.”
Austin Lynch, Orange County coordinator for Unite Here Local 11, reportedly gathered started to gather initials in Anaheim to increase employees’ wages. The initiative, Measure L, says that any private business receiving city subsidies must raise wages to $18/hour by 2022.
“The crux of the initiative was: if you are getting taxpayer subsidies in the resort area, then you should be paying a living wage,” said Lynch. “It was based on the reality that Disney has gotten hundreds of millions of dollars in tax giveaways over the years. In return, [they should] pay enough for people to live.”
In response to this, Disneyland increased their starting wage to $15/hour. However, the minimum wage in California for companies with more than 26 employees is $14/hour. Disneyland employs around 32,000 people.
“I think the issues here are simple: The voters demanded that companies like Disney, who take public handouts, pay their workers a living wage,” said Randy Renick, the attorney who filled the Measure L class action suit, to the Los Angeles Times. “Disney should not get a pass.”