Disneyland performers file petition to form labor union

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Workers who help bring Disneyland’s beloved characters to life said Wednesday they collected enough signatures to support their push for a union.

A group of 1,700 performers, including those who represent characters and dance in parades at Disney’s Southern California theme parks, said they filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board. A vote would likely be held in May or June.

The workers said they also asked The Walt Disney Co. to recognize their union, which they are calling “Magic United.”

In a statement Wednesday, Disney officials said: “We support our cast members’ right to a confidential vote that recognizes their individual choices.”

Most of the more than 35,000 workers at the Disneyland Resort already have unions. Parade and character workers announced their plans to unionize in February to address safety concerns and scheduling, among other issues.

The union would be formed under Actors’ Equity Association, which already represents theatrical performers at Disney’s Florida theme parks.

Union membership has been on a decades-long decline in the United States, but organizations have seen growing public support in recent years amid high-profile contract negotiations involving Hollywood studios and Las Vegas hotels. The National Labor Relations Board, which protects workers’ right to organize, reported more than 2,500 filings for union representation during the 2023 fiscal year, which was the highest number in eight years.

Disney has a major presence in Anaheim, where it operates two theme parks — Disneyland and Disney California Adventure — as well as a shopping and entertainment area called Downtown Disney. Disneyland, the company’s oldest park, was the world’s second-most visited theme park in 2022, hosting 16.8 million people, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

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