In a further sign that the nation’s workers are living far from Fantasyland, thousands took to the streets this week to protest Disney’s attempt to make health insurance unaffordable for its hotel employees. The three Disneyland Hotels employ 2300 UNITE HERE Local 11 workers, whose cause was joined this week by over one thousand delegates attending the National Episcopal Convention. Disney’s proposal would soon require hotel workers to pay up to $500 a month for health coverage, which would force most to rely on publicly funded options such as the Healthy Families program. And while Disney shifts its health care obligations to the already cash-starved public health system, the company just got a $40 million subsidy from the city of Anaheim for a new GardenWalk hotel project. No wonder the workers are considering a boycott or strike.

Working for Disney no Fantasyland

While The Disney Corp. offers a rich fantasy world through its movies, television shows and theme parks, it takes a less friendly approach when dealing with its workers. The corporation has frequently been sued for imposing work requirements that infringe on civil liberties, and now it is trying to make life harder for the already pressed UNITE HERE Local 11 employees at its three Disneyland Hotels (the Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Hotel, and Grand California Hotel).

Disney seeks to require hotel workers to pay as much as $500 a month for health benefits, an obviously unaffordable cost for the bellmen, dishwashers, housekeepers, restaurant servers and front desk agents impacted. The tourist industry has been hit hard by the recession, and gratuities to hotel staff have even declined precipitously in free spending areas like Las Vegas.

That’s why over one thousand delegates to the National Episcopal Convention who are staying at the three Disneyland hotels this week pledged to not return to Disney hotels if Local 11 workers call for a strike or boycott over the health care issue. The delegates also pledged to ask members of their congregations to back Local 11’s struggle.

“We are asking our delegates to pledge not to return to the three Disney hotels and to ask members of their congregations around the country to honor a boycott if the workers ask us to do so. We will continue to pray for justice for the Disney hotel workers and for the larger Anaheim community,” said The Rev. Canon Dr. Henry L. Atkins Jr. of the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice.