Disney Security Workers’ Contract Negotiations Delayed by Concerns About Health Insurance Law
Contract negotiations between Disneyland Resort officials and about 575 theme park security workers have twice stalled in part because of "uncertainties" surrounding an upcoming ballot initiative to repeal a law (SB 2) requiring some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage, the Orange County Register reports (Himmelberg, Orange County Register, 7/14). Proposition 72 is scheduled to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot and would repeal SB 2, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006. Under the law, employers with 200 or more employees will be required to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into the state fund. Employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance only to workers by 2007. Companies with fewer than 20 workers will not have to comply with the law, and the law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 workers unless the state provides them with tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage (California Healthline, 7/6). The contract for Disney security workers -- who patrol the parks, hotels, parking lots and Downtown Disney and are stationed at baggage checkpoints at main gates -- expired May 1. Since then, security workers have rejected similar contract proposals. Results of a third vote on the most recent proposal are scheduled to be released Wednesday. Officials for Independent Employee Service Association, the union representing the workers, said they prefer a "longer-term contract," the Register reports.
IESA negotiator Dave Cox said that contract negotiations have centered on the potential repeal of SB 2. He said that the law would affect about 145 of Disney's security workers. According to Cox, health insurance for those workers has not been addressed in the contract proposals. "What they're saying, in essence, is that they don't want to have to pay in respect to [SB 2], which seems disingenuous for a company the size of Disney." Tom Fox, director of Disney labor relations, said in a statement, "We have had productive discussions with the IESA leadership and proposed a competitive package that we believe meets the needs of the IESA membership and the resort. We are hopeful that the package will be ratified." Fox on July 2 also sent security employees a letter that said the "short-term" contract proposal "simply provides time to analyze the potential impacts of pending California health care legislation as well as general business issues." Several employees also voiced concerns that security tasks could be outsourced, but Fox's letter said the company has "no current plans" for such a move (Orange County Register, 7/14).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.