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Disneyland's character performers vote to unionize

Workers who portray iconic Disney characters and perform in parades at the entertainment giant's Southern California theme parks have voted to join the Actors Equity Association, the union announced Saturday night.

In a National Labor Relations Board vote, 79% of the Disneyland Resort's cast members voted to join Equity, with 953 voting in favor and 258 against, the union said.

If there are no election challenges, the vote will be certified within a week, Equity said.

"The next step will be to collaborate with them (the workers) about improving health & safety, wages, benefits, working conditions and job security," Actors' Equity Association President Kate Shindle said in a statement. "After that we will meet with representatives of the Walt Disney Company to negotiate those priorities into a first contract."

Mickey Mouse greets visitors to California Adventure in Anaheim, California, on April 24, 2024. Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Equity already represents character performers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, as well as those with Disney on Broadway.

Most of the more than 35,000 workers at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, home of the company's first theme park, already have unions. Parade and character workers announced their plans to unionize in February to address safety concerns and scheduling, among other issues.

Anaheim's Disneyland Resort workers who portray characters have been non-union employees since Disneyland first opened in 1955, Equity said.

Disney has a major presence in Anaheim, where it operates two theme parks — Disneyland and Disney California Adventure — as well as a shopping and entertainment area called Downtown Disney. Disneyland, the company's oldest park, was the world's second-most visited theme park in 2022, hosting 16.8 million people, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

Equity, founded in 1913, says it represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers nationwide. 

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