Back in 2014, when Walt Disney World agreed to raise cast member minimum hourly wages from $8 to $10, Universal followed suit by upping employee pay to $9 an hour around two months later. As was expected, history is repeating itself; following prolonged union negotiations that ended in September with Disney cast members getting wage hikes, Universal is upping their own minimum hourly wage to $12.
This trend of Walt Disney World setting the bar for Orlando theme park employee pay was used frequently by unionized cast members as an argument for the resort to increase minimum wages. If others like Universal Orlando and SeaWorld want to stay competitive in the search for capable employees, they need to offer competitive pay.
Those same Disney cast member unions followed through on their commitment to other Orlando theme park workers, not just referencing them in their own negotiations but actually showing up at a rally near Universal’s Orlando parks yesterday in support of a wage increase.
The Orlando Sentinel quoted Unite Here Local 362 president Eric Clinton, who explained, “If the biggest two do this, the others will have to follow suit. We think the entire hospitality industry should do this.”
The new hourly minimum wage was announced yesterday as well. Universal Orlando employee starting pay will jump to $12 an hour beginning in February. That makes it somewhat more competitive with Disney’s new minimum hourly wages, which increase from $10 to $11 this December, up to $13 in September 2019, to $14 in October 2020, finally leveling out at $15 in October 2021.
According to Universal spokesman Tom Schroder, the resort’s pay bump was “long planned.” “Today’s announcement and the related adjustments we’ll be making means an increase in wages for thousands of our team members,” he wrote in an email. “As always, we will continue to review and adjust our rates so that we stay competitive in the market.”
Source: Orlando Sentinel