Who Backs Mickey Rat?

OC Weekly Managing Editor Gustavo Arellano wrote a comprehensive summary of one of the most – if not the most – symbolic labor struggles in Anaheim in this week’s cover story. For those who haven’t kept pace, Disney resort area hotel workers have been without a contract for nearly three years now. The dispute? Health benefits. Unite HERE Local 11, in organizing the struggle, hasn’t made any new or unreasonable demands. They simply want the continuation of the health benefits they’ve previously fought for and enjoyed. With low paying salaries, off-setting the high cost of medical insurance through good benefits is a righteous and just demand. If the hotel workers – that’s workers, not “cast members” – submitted to Disney’s “signature plan” as the corporation wishes, they would be slitting their own wrists! A lot of workers can’t afford to live in the city they work in as it is. Now, could Disney whine “Recession” in wanting to downscale worker benefits? Business blogs chatter about how Recession Proof the theme park and its surrounding attractions are:

The economy is bad, there is no denying that. But has everyone stopped buying? No, they haven’t. A friend of mine just went to Disneyland on New Years and it was sold out. He asked, “Where’s this recession I keep hearing about?” Is Disneyland using the recession as an excuse to stop marketing?  Quite the opposite, they are out there more than ever, offering really great deals to those who are sick and tired of eating in every night, watching every penny and skipping more expensive vacations. Disney understands that the economy is not their number one marketing challenge –  reaching their target market with compelling messaging and offers is their challenge

Given the longevity and symbolism of this labor struggle, it should be a campaign issue for city council hopefuls. Throughout the years, only Lorri Galloway has stepped in and lent political support to the workers. That’s it. Only one. Everybody else, including Mayor Pringle as Arellano’s article notes, has lambasted Unite HERE Local 11’s approach to activism and for putting the dispute in the public’s eye. (Color photos of Disney Protests recently graced the pages of The Progressive Magazine’s ‘On the Line” section in September)

So how’s about it candidates? Where do you stand? Do you genuflect before the Disnocracy? Or do you stand with the workers? How’s about it Eastman? Leos? Hoagy? Dalati? Santoianni? The latter candidate is of particular interest. On the ballot, he’ll be labeled as “City Commissioner,” but as his campaign website notes, he’s currently employed at the Disneyland Resort with Guest Services. Red County raised this point already, and Santoianni posed a response saying he is fair-minded and independent and that he would leave his employer if elected. The Democrat went on to note,”No matter what happens, I will always be dedicated to making Anaheim the best possible place for everyone to live, work, and play.”

Does that mean supporting fair and just health benefits for Disney hotel workers? Let’s start the discussion!

About Gabriel San Roman