by Kaylee Hulgren | October 01, 2008

Ongoing negotiations between UNITE HERE Local 681, representing workers at three Walt Disney-owned hotels in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney have grown increasingly contentious this year.

At issue is a new contract Disney is offering to some 2,300 dishwashers, cooks and bellhops at the Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian and Paradise Pier properties. According to union spokesperson Ada Briceño, the contract would increase the number of hours per week required for benefits to kick in and would raise the cost of the company's medical plan.

In August, an estimated 1,000 union members and community activists dressed as familiar Disney cartoon characters staged a protest outside the Disneyland Hotel, causing traffic disruptions and rubbernecking by bewildered tourists; 32 people were arrested.

Disney and UNITE HERE have been negotiating since the workers' last contract expired in February. At press time, the union had not voted to strike, but Briceño said such a move was not out of the question.
A spokesperson for Disney commented, "We do not anticipate a work stoppage or major disruption to our normal operation" at the three hotels. "We respect the right to demonstrate in a peaceful manner on public property."