ANAHEIM – Disney Hotel Workers broke a nine-day hunger strike on Thursday morning after camping out for seven days on the streets in Anaheim and another two-and-a-half days at Disney corporate headquarters in Burbank.
“By giving up food and remaining at Disney’s doorstep, our 15 fasters have forced Disney to listen,” said Ada Briceno, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 11, after a lively, 100-person picket line. “By talking to the press, sharing their stories, and even blogging on our Web site, our fasters have captured the attention of the public, and although I’m not so sure they’d admit it, the Walt Disney Corporation.”
Workers engaged in the fast to bring attention to Disney’s unaffordable healthcare proposals that could leave hundreds of low-wage hotel employees without medical coverage. They are also protesting an increase in workload and managerial pressure that has led to injuries inside the hotel since the contract has gone unsettled.
For nine nights, 15 different fasters slept in tents on the sidewalk, first outside the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, then moving to Disney’s corporate gate in Burbank.
Since the fast began on Tuesday, Feb. 9, workers staged daily events from picket lines and rallies to a meet-and-greet with elected leaders and a performance by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
Disney hotel workers have also reached out to Disney guests, informing visitors of the workers’ struggle with the company and collecting more than 200 guest e-mail addresses to keep them abreast of the labor dispute.
“Through this fast, you have showed the public what this fight is really about,” said Briceno. “This is not simply about unaffordable healthcare, its about working people standing up for themselves and standing up to corporate power.”
On Thursday, fasters vowed to continue the fight for affordable healthcare.
“As an employee, I help bring the magic of Disney to life,” said Whitney Rupp, a faster and bartender at the Disneyland Hotel. “But it is hard to create magic when you are worrying about whether or not you're going to have health insurance next month.”
Since the 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 healthcare. But now Disney is calling for workers to shoulder the costs of an unaffordable monthly premium that could reach $500 for a family of four. For the majority of workers whom Disney pays around $13 an hour, a monthly premium of $500 is simply unaffordable.
For more information, please visit www.disneyisunfaithful.org