| ORLANDO, Fla., April 26
ORLANDO, Fla., April 26 Representatives of a
national organization of mothers were prevented on Thursday from
delivering a petition to Walt Disney World accusing it of trying
to block laws that would require companies to provide paid sick
leave for employees.
"They were turned away and security was called," Kristin
Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising, told Reuters
She said only a handful of members of the group were
involved in the aborted attempt to hand-deliver the petition and
a Disney spokesman, Bryan Malenius, did not immediately return a
call from Reuters for comment.
Disney employees through their unions, have battled with the
company over wages and benefits in the past. In a union
documentary called "Mouse Trapped 2010," one employee described
having to take handouts from churches to make ends meet.
MomsRising, which claims 1 million U.S. members, collected
6,000 signatures in the first 24 hours after drafting a letter
that calls on Disney to support healthy workers, Rowe-Finkbeiner
MomsRising got involved after the Orlando Sentinel newspaper
reported that Disney, along with the Florida Chamber of Commerce
and Darden Restaurants Inc, which owns the Red Lobster
and Olive Garden chains, helped draft a bill currently before
the Florida legislature to ban local communities from enacting
their own paid sick time rules.
The proposed state law follows a grassroots campaign in
Orange County, Disney's home, to place a referendum about paid
sick leave on the ballot. Supporters collected more than 50,000
signatures to place the issue on the November 2012 ballot. But
county commissioners by a 4-3 vote blocked the measure from
getting on the ballot.
In what came to be called "textgate," some county
commissioners were found to be texting with lobbyists -
including Disney lobbyists - before the vote and during the
Rowe-Finkbeiner said the issue resonates with many of her
members who struggle when they or their children are ill.
"It's no surprise that momentum for earned sick time is
growing. Parents get how important access to earned sick time is
and that's why we want Disney to stop working to block earned
sick time initiatives in Florida," Rowe-Finkbeiner said.
MomsRising members were active in getting earned sick time
laws passed in Seattle, San Francisco and Connecticut, and
currently are pushing for laws in New York City and
Philadelphia, she said.
She said 160 counties require minimum earned sick time, and
companies have found the benefit cuts down on absenteeism by
reducing the spread of illness, she noted.