Actors Union Files Grievance Against Walt Disney World Ahead of Park Reopening

By Helen Coster | July 10, 2020

The actors’ union representing 750 Walt Disney World performers has filed a grievance against the Orlando, Florida-based theme park alleging retaliation against its members over the union’s demand that they be tested for the coronavirus.

Walt Disney Co plans to reopen Disney World on Saturday, with attendance limits, social distancing rules and new health and safety protocols. Florida has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. In June, Florida infections rose by 168% or over 95,000 new cases.

The Actors’ Equity Association, in a statement on Thursday, said Disney had announced plans on June 23 to recall members for rehearsals the following week.

On June 25 the union publicly stated that actors needed to be tested because they cannot practice social distancing, the statement said. But on June 26, Walt Disney World rescinded all of its recall notices for members of the union.

The union said it sent its grievance to Disney on Wednesday.

“Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors’ Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers.”

Over 19,000 people, including some workers, have signed a petition asking Disney to delay the park’s reopening. Unions representing workers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, also pushed back on that park’s reopening, which was scheduled for July 17 but which the company has delayed indefinitely.

When Disney World reopens, guests and employees will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks. The resort will suspend parades, fireworks displays and other activities that create crowds.

(Reporting by Helen Coster Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Tom Brown and Richard Chang)

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