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Workers To Protest At Disneyland Thursday Over Wage Demands

ANAHEIM (CBSLA) – Disneyland employees will continue to put pressure on the company to increase wages when it holds a protest outside the amusement park Thursday.

Hundreds of union workers were on hand for a march and rally at Clementine Street and Disney Way and ends at the Disneyland gates.

Then, on Friday morning, a group of workers plan to hand deliver a petition to Disney CEO Robert Iger at Disney's Burbank headquarters, demanding the company increase wages.

The petition has more than 117,000 signatures, according to a news release from SEIU United Service Workers West. It was allegedly spurred after U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders attended a rally last week in Anaheim over the wage issue.

The controversy over Disneyland worker pay was heightened in February when a report was released by researchers at Occidental College and the Economic Roundtable which found that Disneyland Resort employees are paid so little, one in 10 experiences homelessness and two-thirds don't have enough food to eat.

In May, a coalition of 11 labor unions presented a petition with about 20,000 signatures to the Anaheim city clerk's office to get a measure on the November ballot asking voters to require Disney and other large Anaheim employers which accept city subsidies to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, with salaries rising $1 an hour every Jan. 1 through 2022, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Once the wages reach $18 an hour, annual raises would then be tied to the cost of living.

The signatures have not yet been verified.

Disneyland is the city's largest employer with about 30,000 workers. The unions argue Disney is profiting from millions in taxpayer subsidies while employees struggle to pay their bills.

Rebecca Petersen, a licensed cosmetologist and makeup artist at Disneyland, told CBS2 back in February that the low wages have forced her to live out of her car.

"I had to choose between my car and a roof and I said, 'well, my car is my ticket to money'," Petersen said.

Following the Sander's rally earlier this month, Disneyland responded with a statement, which read in part:

"We currently are negotiating one of the largest union contracts at Disneyland Resort, with an offer that increases starting wages 36 percent over three years, paying $15 an hour by 2020 – two years ahead of California's minimum wage."

Last year, the finance website GOBankingRates ranked Anaheim as one of the five most expensive cities to live in the United States.

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