The agreement came about a month after the Disneyland Resort in California announced it would raise its minimum wage for 9,700 union employees to $15 an hour by 2019. The employees, who were represented by Master Services Council, included those working in attractions, store operations and costuming.
The California state minimum wage is $11 an hour for employers with 26 employees or more and is set to increase to $15 an hour in 2022. In Florida, the state minimum wage is $8.25 an hour; John Morgan, a lawyer in Orlando, is aiming to put a measure on the 2020 ballot that would eventually raise it to $15.
During the negotiations with Walt Disney World union members, the company initially offered a 2.5 percent salary increase and no change to the starting minimum wage. In October, hundreds of union workers marched near a Disney World entrance, blocking traffic, one of many rallies that took place during the contract talks. A later proposal to raise wages by 50 cents was also rejected by workers.
In January, after a tax cut passed by Congress, Disney said it would give $1,000 bonuses to employees but announced that union members would not receive the bonus during pay raise negotiations. Unions representing the workers in Florida and California filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, which sided with Disney.
Finally, the two sides agreed to a wage increase in exchange for what Mr. Haicken called “minor changes,” such as a decrease in how often an employee can transfer from one job to another.
“I have to give Disney credit,” Mr. Haicken said. “Yes, there was a lot of public pressure for them to raise their wages, but they did do it.”
Mr. Haicken said the raises could lead to wage improvements for nonunion employees in Florida, citing earlier decisions by Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando to raise their minimum wages to $10, following in Disney’s footsteps.