Let’s hear it for the thousands of Disney and Universal employees in Florida who stepped up to perform heroic work during Hurricane Ian. The deadly storm closed businesses throughout Florida and the southeast, but the theme park resorts kept open their hotels to provide shelter to tens of thousands of visitors stranded by Ian, as…
Let’s hear it for the thousands of Disney and Universal employees in Florida who stepped up to perform heroic work during Hurricane Ian.
The deadly storm closed businesses throughout Florida and the southeast, but the theme park resorts kept open their hotels to provide shelter to tens of thousands of visitors stranded by Ian, as well as many evacuees from Florida’s Gulf Coast who made their way inland to the relative safety of Orlando. That meant that many of Walt Disney World’s cast members and Universal Orlando’s team members had to stay on the job to care for those guests.
At the same time, many more theme park employees remained on site to work as ride-out crews, battening down the parks for the impending storm, then restoring them to working order as soon as Ian passed.
When workers are on the job during a storm like Ian, that means they cannot be at home, watching over their property or loved ones. Thousands of hospitality workers, medical workers, utility employees and other first responders also stayed on the job to protect Floridians and the state’s guests during one of the most dangerous moments in the state’s history.
One day, the moment will come when workers in Southern California will be called upon to do the same, whenever the state’s next, inevitable major earthquake strikes. Just as millions of workers stepped up to provide food, shelter, health care and other essential services during the recent pandemic lockdowns.
For caring for us during our most fragile moments, these workers deserve much more than our thanks. They deserve the legal respect and financial security that America’s working class has been denied for too long.
At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, Disney’s theme park cast members are represented by unions that can bargain collectively to get their members the pay and benefits that they deserve. Disney World’s unions represent so many workers in Central Florida that they effectively set wages at Disney’s competitors, who do not dare undercut Disney’s wages if they want to attract hard-working employees. All workers across the country deserve the opportunity for union representation, but that can happen only if the government steps up to penalize companies that fire or punish workers who try to organize a union.
Government also can help by ending the ridiculous practice of taxing money earned through work at a higher rate than money earned simply from having money. Taking capital gains as ordinary income and lifting the income cap on payroll taxes would raise billions of dollars to help pay for the education and health care that have driven millions of working-class Americans into crippling debt. It also could pay to bury utility lines and otherwise upgrade our infrastructure to protect us against the storms, wildfires and other inevitable natural disasters that damage or destroy communities from coast to coast.
Time and again, America’s working class steps up to protect America. It’s past time that we quit leaving them to twist in the ever-more-dangerous wind.