Union Charges Disney Is Withholding Bonus Checks

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Like many U.S. firms who stand to benefit handsomely from recent changes to U.S. tax laws, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) said it would pay some 125,000 hourly workers a one-time bonus of $1,000. Now the company is tying the bonus payment for some 2,700 of those employees to their approval of Disney’s latest union contract offer.

The 2,700 workers are represented by Unite Here Local 11, and the union on Tuesday filed a complaint against Disney with the National Labor Relations Board for failing to bargain in good faith.

In a notice to Local 11 employees, Disney stated that it would pay eligible full-time and part-time union employees a “one-time discretionary bonus” of $1,000 in two lump sum payments. Disney noted, however, that the bonus would be paid only if the company’s contract offer is ratified by March 31, 2018.

The union represents workers at three Disneyland Resort hotels: the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. According to the complaint:

On February 19, 2018, the Employer conditioned receipt of an otherwise companywide bonus upon the Union’s acceptance of its proposals, while paying those bonuses to nonunion employees and employees represented by other labor organizations. The Employer has engaged in this conduct notwithstanding the Union’s lack of objection to payment of bonuses to employees. The Employer nevertheless states that it will withhold bonuses until the Union agrees to its proposal in contract negotiations. By its conduct, the Employer has retaliated and discriminated against approximately 2,700 employees for engaging in concerted activity, has violated its duty to bargain in good faith, and has engaged in conduct that is inherently destructive to rights guaranteed employees under the Act.

A Disney spokeswoman told the Orange County Register that because the company is in an “open contract with Local 11” everything’s on the table, including the promised bonus. The Disney spokesperson said the company is offering an average annual 3% salary increase over the next three years and a $15 hourly pay rate for certain jobs.

California’s minimum wage was increased to $11 an hour on January 1 and is targeted to reach $15 an hour by 2022 for companies Disney’s size.

In December, 38,000 union employees at Florida’s Disney World overwhelming rejected a contract offer of a 50 cent an hour raise and a $200 signing bonus.

CEO Robert Iger was paid just over $80 million in total compensation for the past two years, and visitors to Disneyland will pay up to $135 per person per day for admission to the park, up from last year’s top ticket price of $124.