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Workers seek to unionize non-Disney restaurants at Disney Springs

Unite Here Local 737 President Jeremy Haiken announced a unionization effort at five non-Disney restaurants in Disney Springs.
Joe Byrnes
/
Central Florida Public Media
Unite Here Local 737 President Jeremy Haiken announced a unionization effort at five non-Disney restaurants in Disney Springs.

Workers at the restaurants operated by Patina Restaurant Group, part of the Delaware North corporation, have concerns about lower wages compared to Disney employees, part-time instead full-time work, and a lack of benefits.

The union representing many Disney workers is seeking to unionize five restaurants owned by a different company at Disney Springs.

Workers at the restaurants operated by Patina Restaurant Group, part of the Delaware North corporation, have concerns about lower wages compared to Disney employees, part-time instead full-time work, and a lack of benefits.

"I am proud to announce something historic," Unite Here Local 737 President Jeremy Haiken said Monday at a press conference in Orlando, "the first ever campaign of subcontracted third party restaurant workers at Disney Springs to organize a union."

Delaware North said in a prepared statement: “We respect our employees’ rights to consider union representation. Should any union gain sufficient backing to petition for a vote at any of our locations, we are committed to adhering to all relevant regulations and procedures throughout the process."

Haiken said the effort involves more than 300 employees at Morimoto Asia, The Edison, Maria and Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway, and Pizza Ponte.

The union compared wages there with those of nearby Disney restaurants, saying, for instance, that experienced Disney cooks make more than $24 an hour, compared to a Delaware North worker earning $18 an hour at multiple cook stations.

Kristin Mercer, an employee at Maria and Enzo's, said that, like Disney-owned restaurants, they give customers all the Disney rewards and try to give them the "magic" of Disney.

"[W]e're expected to provide that Disney experience for our guests," she said. "But as employees, we are not getting that Disney experience that we deserve."

She called on Delaware North to meet with workers and allow "fair proceedings in this process with us."

The union filed complaints earlier this month with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the Patina Restaurant Group of threatening employees with poorer terms or conditions and surveilling workers seeking to unionize.

Copyright 2024 Central Florida Public Media

Joe Byrnes