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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

Disneyland to Begin Talks on New Contract

August 26, 1998|E. Scott Reckard

Remember the Disney character actors picketing Disneyland Paris earlier this summer? Or for that matter the bitter 22-day strike at the original Magic Kingdom in Anaheim in 1984?

Sources in the unions that represent 3,400 ride operators, store clerks, ticket takers, janitors and other Disneyland workers say they are hopeful such scenes will be avoided here as three-year labor contracts run out.

Union and management negotiators begin talks this week on new contracts, with eight meetings scheduled before the old ones expire Sept. 14. With the minimum wage having increased since the last contracts, raises are high on the list of union demands. Scheduling concerns and a cap on employee contributions to health plans are also big items.

Attitudes on both sides were positive going into the talks, but wage erosion and Orange County's low unemployment rate have cut into labor loyalty, a union source said. "The turnover is tremendous. It's probably higher than it's ever been at the park," the source added.

E. Scott Reckard covers tourism for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com.

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