ORLANDO, Fla. — The six unions that represent workers in Walt Disney World's parks and hotels voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract offer made by the company on Friday evening. 

Of the 14,263 votes cast on the matter, 13,650 were to reject the contract, or 96% of the votes. The unions represent over 42,000 workers at the resort complex in Lake Buena Vista and the surrounding areas. 

"All of our members, our stewards, our committees can be assured. The service trades council will continue to stand together, to work together, and to fight together, to win a contract that you are proud of," President of Services Trade Council Union Matt Hollis said after the votes were tallied. 

"Our next move will be to reach out to the company to schedule, to bring them back to the bargaining table, to see what the future holds," he continued in a clip posted to the Local 362's facebook page.

Union members gathered at the offices of UNITE HERE Local 737 on Wednesday Jan. 1, to prepare for an upcoming vote on a wage proposal from Walt Disney World. Union leaders were recommending a "no" vote going into the deliberation, which would send things back to the drawing board in an attempt to garner higher pay.

What You Need To Know

  • The current proposal applies to non-tipped, full-time members of the Service Trades Council Union (STCU)

  • According to union leaders, the offer provides a pay increase of $1/hour, per year during the contract-- but many hope to see a higher increase upfront

  • 25% of employees would reach $20/hour within the first year of the proposed contract

Hundreds of union members gathered to collect blank ballots and ballot boxes ahead of a big vote Thursday. Diego Henry was one of many faces in the crowd, and he was hoping the union can negotiate a higher wage than what was proposed.

“I’m the sole breadwinner in my family, so I always try and make sure the bills are paid. In the last two months, it’s been difficult,” said Henry.

According to UNITE HERE Local 737, members were able to raise minimum wages to $15/hour back in 2018. “For a time, a $15 wage put some families on track with a living wage,” reads a blurb on their website.

“Seeing that really told me that we were actually going to accomplish our goal because we were united,” said Henry.

However, according to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of food in December was up 10.4% from what it was just a year before.

Henry said things got even more difficult when his wife was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and had to stop working. According to a survey from the union, 25% of tourism workers surveyed skipped medicine prescribed by a doctor in the last year. 39% were worried about being homeless.

However, Walt Disney World contends their offer is a strong one, which would put 25% of employees on track to $20/hour within the first year of the contract. The contract also provides eight weeks of child bonding time for eligible employees.

Their statement to Spectrum News 13 reads: “This very strong offer provides our Cast Members with a nearly 10% average increase immediately and guaranteed raises for the next four years with every single non-tipped Cast Member promised at least a $20 starting wage during the contract, and the majority seeing a 33% to 46% increase during that time.”

Some union members are hoping to see those wages upfront, rather than dispersed over time. “Disney can do better, and they know better,” said Henry.