Disney World To Furlough 43,000 Workers Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Employee Union Says

Some 43,000 unionized Walt Disney World employees will be furloughed starting April 19, the union representing the workers said Saturday.

The Service Trades Council, a coalition of six unions representing the workers, made the announcement in a Facebook Live briefing.

“This is a decision that the union doesn’t like, however, it’s within the company’s right to lay off and furlough employees in this situation,” said Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here! Local 362, which represents attractions, custodial and vacation planning cast members at Disney World.

Clinton said affected employees will be eligible to immediately enroll in unemployment benefits in the state of Florida, and those with insurance will be able to keep their medical, dental and life insurance benefits for the length of the furloughs, by up to a year.

“Disney will pay 100% of all insurance costs,” he said. “There will be no cost to any employee who’s on furlough for use of their medical insurance and the continued coverage of it.”

Just under 200 union workers who are considered essential will remain on the job. Those positions include custodial, culinary, housekeeping, and lake patrol positions, the union said.

Disney shuttered Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim, Disneyland Paris Resort on March 14 as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. At the time, the closures were expected to last through the end of March.

On March 18, Disney extended the shutdown of its U.S. theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando, saying the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort would remain closed until further notice. It also said it would “extend paying hourly parks and resorts cast members through April 18.”

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