Union Representing Disneyland Employees Worried About Health and Safety of its Workers
The happiest place on Earth has yet to reopen in Anaheim due to the health risk surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The theme park is still pending government approval to reopen.
“We recognize that the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving, which is why our reopening approach is deliberately fluid and phased, and there are many factors that are helping us determine the timing of when various aspects of our business will reopen in a responsible way,” Disneyland said in a statement.
Disneyland planned to reopen on July 17, but California has begun to reverse the reopening process in the state due to increasing cases of the virus.
In July, California rolled back reopenings of restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, museums, card rooms, and bars.
Plans to reopen the theme park raised concerns among some groups about the health and safety of everyone entering Disneyland.
“Theme parks are ranked one of the most dangerous places on every public health authorities ranking,” organizing director for labor union Unite Here Local 11 representing Disneyland employees, Austin Lynch, told Scriberr News.
Employees want to return to work, but it needs to be safe, Lynch said.
“Otherwise, from what we’ve seen, all it means is that they open, lose the public’s trust and close back down again, and that doesn’t work with us,” Lynch said.
There have been productive discussions between the union and Disney to accommodate similar concerns between one another.
“In order to reopen our theme parks, we need to negotiate agreements with our unions to return employees to work,” Disneyland stated on June 24.
However, Lynch emphasized that Disneyland is missing a crucial piece which is to provide testing to ensure the health of the employees.
“What they are going to need is to offer to test because we work with people from all over the world,” housekeeper at the Disneyland Hotel, Ines Guzman told Scriberr News.
Disneyland has accommodated many of the union’s concerns, but testing has not been one of them.
“They’re (Disney) claiming that health authorities say that the testing will not be an effective screening method that the better thing is just to focus on prevention and prevention measures, but we want both,” Lynch said.
Disneyland has issued several health and safety measures that will be enforced once the park decides to reopen.
Guidelines include mandatory face covering for cast members and guests, reduction in theme park capacity, temperature check before entering Downtown Disney, cashless transactions, reduced cast member interactions, and enhanced cleaning within the park.
The Downtown Disney District reopened on July 9, with health and safety protocols similar to the Disneyland health guidelines.
Downtown Disney opened dining restaurants and merchandise stores with some using a mobile waitlist to manage the number of guests entering the store.
The hotels in downtown have not been approved to reopen, but Guzman raises concerns about her health once it does open.
Guzman explains as a housekeeper; she is required to clean many rooms and wants Disney to provide extra help with disinfecting the rooms.
“Being in the housekeeping department, I feel like they should have more workers to help us with all the disinfecting,” Guzman said.
Guzman wishes to return to work soon, but as long as Disney stays accountable and takes precautionary measures.
Lynch explained another upcoming issue the union has been discussing, which are the subcontractors with Disney not openly committing to safety measures.
“Disney has subcontractors, Sodexo, that serves food in the employee cafeterias throughout the whole resort, and they have not committed even to the measures that Disney has,” Lynch said.
SodexoMAGIC is a joint company with Sodexo Corporation and Magic Johnson.
“So again, goes back to that problem that a net without a hole is no net at all,” Lynch said.
The union continues to push Disney to commit in writing to all of the safety and health measures.
“We want the company to commit in writing to all the safety measures that are necessary for reopening, testing is one,” Lynch said.
“There’s also other important ones like safe workload so that the commitment to clean, sanitize, and disinfect more often is real.”
Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has recently reopened on July 11, even with the state’s increasing number of coronavirus cases surpassing 350,000.
There has been no confirmed date for Disneyland Anaheim or Disney Hotels to reopen.