Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Disneyland employees protest pandemic workplace safety at the”happiest place on earth”

Workers at California’s Disneyland Resort protested from their cars on Saturday (June 27) arguing that the Walt Disney Co has not agreed to adequate protections for employees when the destination reopens to the public amid a pandemic.

The company had planned to welcome guests back to Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure starting July 17 but delayed the restart date indefinitely.

Disney said this week that it would set a new opening date after the state issues guidelines on how theme parks can return to business safely amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, about 200 cars formed a caravan outside the resort in the protest staged by the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions, a group of 11 unions that represent 17,000 Disneyland workers.

The unions have called on the company to commit to providing onsite testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“Our workers want to come back. They love Disney. They love their jobs, but they cannot afford to come back unsafely,” said Austin Lynch, the director for the resort workers union, which represents more than 3,000 Disney employees.

Disney said in a Saturday statement that it has reached agreements on coronavirus protections with 20 union affiliates that include additional sick pay, face coverings for guests and cast members, and reduced park capacity.

In a letter to unions earlier this week, a Disney representative said existing COVID-19 testing was not recommended by U.S. health authorities for routine screening.

Instead, health officials recommend focusing on physical distancing, face coverings, hand washing and sanitization, the letter said.

Disney began shutting its theme parks in January as the coronavirus spread. It has reopened parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong to a limited number of guests. The company plans to open Walt Disney World in Florida on July 11.

(Production: Deborah Gembara)

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