* Disney World's largest union made claim amid wage talks
* Mediation is set for Thursday in contract talks
* Talks affect 27,000 full-time workers in central Florida
(Adds Disney comment on employee health plan)
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Fla., Nov 30 The largest union
representing workers at Walt Disney World (DIS.N) has produced
a documentary critical of wages and benefits at the Orlando
theme park intended to increase pressure on the company to
raise its hourly wage offer in current contract negotiations.
The documentary, titled "Mouse Trapped 2010," was scheduled
to premiere at a union meeting on Tuesday. A trailer for the
documentary can be seen here
In it, an employee identified as Doug in the Animal Kingdom
said on camera, "For me and my family to survive, we have to go
to the churches. We have to go to the church and we get
Bryan in the Transportation and Ticketing Center said in
the documentary, "I can work for 50 hours a week and bring home
$165 because of my insurance and other deductions that come out
of my check."
"It's about putting pressure on the company in advance of
mediation. This is us yelling a little louder," said Eric
Clinton, president of UniteHere Local 362, one of six unions
under the umbrella Service Trades Council negotiating a new
42-month contract for 27,000 full-time workers at the theme
Covered employees -- who include bus drivers, waiters,
custodians, parking attendants and front desk staff --
currently are working under an extension of their old contract,
which expired on Oct. 2. Clinton said workers in his union on
average are paid $10 an hour. Mediation is set for Thursday.
Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said the company, central
Florida's largest employer, is standing by its original offer
-- voted down by the union -- of 3 percent raises each of the
next three years.
"We're maintaining it's a fair and competitive offer,"
Finger told Reuters.
Clinton said, however, that Disney also wants to increase
the health insurance premiums paid by employees by more than
the pay raise, with the result that workers would wind up with
a net loss of 8 cents per hour.
The only way to avoid the loss, Clinton said, would be for
workers to step down to a cheaper "value" health insurance
program that Disney is offering, which he said would cover
catastrophic medical conditions but not typical doctor visits.
Finger said some employees might need to scale back their
health coverage to avoid a drop in take-home pay but insisted
most could keep their existing plan and still see a raise.
"An overwhelming majority of cast members will get more pay
at the end of three years," she said.
The union wants workers to at least break even and hopes
for a net raise of 10 cents an hour or more, Clinton said.
"We know the federal government is operating at a deficit,"
Clinton said, reacting to the recently announced federal
employee wage freezes. "But Disney has the exact opposite
situation. They made $3.3 billion in profit last year. Disney
could lift the standard of living in this town (Orlando) if it
(Editing by Jane Sutton, Kevin Gray and Steve Orlofsky)