Walt Disney World plans to stop paying wages to 43,000 workers in about a week while allowing them to keep their benefits for up to a year in what is the largest wave of furloughs since the theme park resort closed in mid-March because of the new coronavirus spread. Workers will be able to keep their medical, dental, and life insurance benefits for the length of the furlough period, or up to a year, the AP reports. Seniority and wage rates will remain unchanged for the workers whose furloughs start April 19, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council, the coalition of unions representing the Disney World workers. About 200 workers will remain on the job performing “essential duties" during the closure, and they will be offered positions based on seniority, the union said.
"The union agreement provides stronger protections and benefits for 43,000 union workers at Disney than virtually any other furloughed or laid-off workers in the United States," the union said in a statement to members. The agreement with the Service Trades Council marked the largest group of workers at Disney World to come to terms on furloughs with the company during the new coronavirus outbreak. With 77,000 workers, Disney World is the largest single-site group of workers in the nation. On Friday, unions representing security guards and workers involved in facilities and operations reached agreements under similar terms, and earlier this week, Disney World and a union representing musicians who perform at its theme parks reached a similar agreement. Disney also said it would furlough executive, salaried, and hourly nonunion employees whose jobs aren't necessary at this time. (More here on what Disney's cross-town rivals are doing.)