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    « KPCC 89.3: 8 Disneyland employees break hunger strike in labor negotiations | Main | OC Register: Hunger Strike Moving to Disney Headquarters »

    In President’s Day Address, Elected Leaders Call on Disney Corp. to Provide Affordable Healthcare for its Hotel Workers

    ANAHEIM – Speaker-Elect John A. Pérez, Assembly Member Jose Solorio and other elected leaders showed support for hunger-striking Disney hotel workers on Monday by calling on the Walt Disney Corporation to continue to provide affordable healthcare for its workers.

    Various elected officials visited the fasters, who for six days have slept in tents outside the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim and refused food. Workers in the Disneyland hotels took on the fast in a spiritual attempt to communicate their health and safety needs with their employer.

    “I’m proud to stand with you today in this fight,” Pérez said. “I am optimistic and hopeful that the workers and Disney can find a solution to provide affordable, on-going healthcare for the workers here today.”

    Addressing the fasters, Gloria Romero, a State Senator from East Los Angeles, questioned Disney’s assertion that it doesn’t have the money to continue to provide affordable healthcare.

    “Disneyland is going to expand its parks by $1 billion next year,” Romero said. “I don’t believe Disney when they say they don’t have the money to pay working mothers, but they have a billion dollars to put into fantasies in California Adventure.”

    Romero also congratulated the fasters’ determination to stand up for justice.

    “We should always believe in the magic, and the magic begins with the workers themselves,” Romero said. “Si se puede!”

    Jose Moreno, an Anaheim Unified School board member, urged Disney to realize that its workforce is made up of families in our community, many of which are working in poverty. Moreno maintained that in order for the whole community to be strong, Disney must be a good corporate partner.

    “While we see the divestment of our educational system, many say, ‘Well the parents need to step up and do the right thing,’” Moreno said. “Well, I ask the parents of Disney – who themselves have school children, who themselves have worked in our schools, who have seen firsthand the incredible poverty, working poverty, that our families face everyday – that they look into their heart…and change the paradigm of how we see workers. I implore Disney to be a solid community partner; help us invest in our educational system and see workers and their children not as a cost, but as an investment.”

    Anaheim City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway said she and the other elected officials look to the fasters, who by fighting for justice, become models of leadership.

    “You have become those leaders who stand up and sacrifice — sacrifice yourselves, sacrifice your health — for the health of others and for the well-being of others,” Galloway said.

    Assembly Member Hector De La Torre told fasters that they should not have to choose between the basic rights of a decent salary and fair benefits. Instead, workers deserve both.

    “It takes a lot of hard work to create the fantasy here in Disneyland, yet workers are having to sacrifice just to get the basics,” De La Torre said. “The Disney Corporation, with its earnings, with its success, the growth that is happening around here, can afford to treat its employees with fairness and respect.”

    Since workers’ contract expired about two years ago, hotel workers and the company have disagreed over the issue of healthcare. The workers’ struggle to maintain affordable health benefits is central to this disagreement.

    Hotel workers want the company to continue contributing to their current healthcare plan, which covers workers and their family members. Over the years workers have forgone significant wage raises in order to maintain their quality, affordable health care. But now Disney is calling for workers to shoulder the costs of an unaffordable monthly premium. For the majority of workers whom Disney pays around $13 an hour, a monthly premium of $500 for a family of four is unaffordable.