ANAHEIM – Three bellmen and a housekeeper from the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim will travel to San Antonio this week to attend the Walt Disney Corporation’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, March 10.
For the past two years, Disneyland Resort hotel workers have been without a contract and locked in negotiations over Disney’s attempts to slash worker healthcare. The four hotel workers will bring this struggle to maintain affordable healthcare to Disney decision makers present at the annual meeting. The three bellmen attending the meeting hold shares in the public company.
Workers will also voice their support for the “say on pay” initiative — a proposal that would allow for a shareholder advisory vote on executive compensation if approved at the meeting. The Disney Board of Directors has said in communication to its shareholders that it opposes the initiative that could lead to a curb on excessive executive pay.
“We hope to point out the incongruity of Disney’s behavior,” said Jorge Iniestra, a shareholder and bellman at the Disneyland Hotel. “While it seemingly wants to retain the right to pay its CEO millions annually, it has no problem slashing healthcare benefits for about 2,000 low-wage hotel workers.”
Bellmen Tom Bray and Russell Maitland and housekeeper Maria Navarro will join Iniestra in attending the March 10 meeting at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country.
In contract negotiations with hotel workers, Disney has proposed healthcare changes that could leave hundreds of low-wage hotel employees without medical coverage.
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 is expected to reach $500 for a family of four by the contract’s end. For the majority of workers whom Disney pays less than $13 an hour, a monthly premium of $500 is simply unaffordable.
“I’m supporting the ‘say on pay’ proposal because it is one way to curb some of the corporate greed that has obstructed Disney executives’ ability to think rationally for the long-term,” said Bray, a Disneyland Hotel bellman who has held stock in the company for about 14 years. “The company wants to cut our healthcare — a right and necessity for workers — claiming it needs to save money, while it continues to pay its executives millions annually.”
The Walt Disney Company’s top five executives combined earned more than $50 million in total compensation during FY 2009.
Disney CEO Bob Iger made more than $29 million in total compensation — that’s more than $110,000 per each workday in 2009. To put this in perspective, a housekeeper at the Disneyland Hotel earns about $20,800 after one year of employment. Iger’s total compensation was about 1,395 times the pay of the same housekeeper.
Maria Navarro, a housekeeper at the Grand Californian Hotel and a single mother of three also will attend the shareholder meeting.
“We do the back-breaking work that allows this company to make billions in profits,” said Navarro. “I am going to the Board of Directors meeting to demand that Disney listen to us. They must understand that we will not let them take away our healthcare."
The meeting comes just about one month after workers engaged in a hunger strike to attempt to communicate the seriousness of the healthcare cuts with their employer. For six nights, eight fasters slept in tents on the sidewalk outside the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, followed by four more fasters sleeping two nights in tents outside of Disney’s corporate gate in Burbank.