Mickey Mouse wants his own union

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Elsa, Ariel trade unionists. It's not the plot of a new comic or movie, but what's happening at Disneyland, the Los Angeles amusement park. The workers who wear Disney character clothes every day and animate the park have said enough: “We too want representation, protection and salary increases.” The wave of activism that began in the United States in October 2021 and has become “contagious” has also arrived here, in a country where only 10% of workers are unionized. But where there have been major protests in recent years: workers at Starbucks, Amazon, the Big Three of the automotive world and Hollywood stars. And now Mickey & Co?

A group of 1,700 American amusement park employees have announced their intention to join Actors' Equity, the union that represents over 50,000 live performers across the United States. Mickey Mouse & Co ask for the same protections as theater actors, comedians and strippers. They ask to have representation too, given that they are the only workers at the amusement park who do not have one. 1700 out of over 35 thousand employees, already unionized. And what will the new union acronym be called? Obviously 'Magic United' and the logo speaks for itself: Mickey Mouse's (the leader's) white glove clutched in his fist. Every day they wear their costumes and go around the park doing shows, parades and photos. Topolini & Co have been in turmoil since the Covid period. One of the demands is in fact that of having the certainty that the costumes are sanitized every time the artist changes. They are asking for salary increases, greater transparency in shift scheduling and hiring.

The unionization procedure began in recent days with the distribution of cards to collect the membership of the various workers. Once the flight is over, Magic United will formally request to be recognized by Disney Resort Entertainment. There is also a precedent, in Florida, that can help. Mickey & Co at Walt Disney World in Orlando are already represented by their own theme song, the Teamsters. And to help there is also the prospect of a strike in case of refusal by the company. Disneyland without Donald Ducks, Ariel, Pluto, Mickey Mouse etc. around? A risk that is too high for a sector, that of amusement parks, which increased Disney's revenues by 7% in the last quarter of 2023. We are talking about 9.1 billion dollars.

The call for unionization comes in a historical period in the United States in which there has been an increase in the use of strikes, but at the same time a reduction in the rate of union membership. 10%, historic low. In the 1950s three out of ten workers were members of a union, today one in 10, we are at a third of those numbers. But the role of the unions, despite the constant decline that began in the 1970s, has a political weight, which will count in November's presidential elections.