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Disney Parks

Unions Want Disneyland Reopened

Cases are falling and a new agreement was reached to keep workers safe

Brian Young's picture
Oct 19, 2020

All summer Disneyland in Anaheim California has been closed due to COVID-19. Although Disneyworld in Orlando Florida was allowed to reopen, California has refused to let theme parks begin operations. With Disney planning layoffs of tens of thousands of workers, the unions representing theme park workers are calling on the Governor to allow the park to reopen.

Currently, Disney can’t reopen until Orange County hits the state’s “Yellow” tier, which means that there is a minimal threat for spread. In a letter sent by the unions, including Workers United Local 50, Unite Here Local 11, United Food & Commercial Workers 324, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees 504 as well as bakery, musician, and security guard unions representing Disneyland cast members, they urged the state to allow the park to reopen once the county hits the “Orange” tier, which means there is a moderate threat of spread. Orange County is currently in the “Red” tier, which is one tier higher than Orange.

The Orange County Health Care Agency joined the unions in calling for the parks to reopen under Orange conditions. This move is a change for the unions who wrote to California Governor Gavin Newsome in June demanding that he stop the park's plan to reopen. At the time they said that the park was not enacting enough safety procedures to reopen.

The letter comes after the unions signed a new agreement with Disney. The agreement detailed safety procedures that were laid out to protect workers and guests. They also have months of data from the Orlando park on what works and what doesn’t.

“The company has provided detail on serious measures to protect workers via social distancing, providing PPE, addressing ventilation, and more,” according to the latest union letter. “Most recently, the company unveiled a testing program.”

A state task force recently visited both Disneyland and Disneyworld to check their safety procedures and to determine the feasibility of reopening without causing a new outbreak.

“We strongly urge you to direct the task force to meet with us, the representatives of the resort workers, as part of this process,” according to the union letter. “In our view, the effectiveness of public health agencies in addressing COVID-19 would benefit from coordination with worker representatives like ours that have practical knowledge and expertise regarding the challenges of addressing exposure risks.”

California has recently seen a drop in cases from a high over the summer of over 10,000 daily cases, however, they are still reporting over 2,000 new cases a day. Disneyland has also been the site of outbreaks before. In 2014, a Measles outbreak occurred, infecting 125 people. Disney and their unions hope that reopening in the midst of a pandemic won’t lead to a similar outbreak.

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