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Labor unions reach agreement with Disney for $15 by 2021

Photo via Disney

Aside from election news, this week had a development that could bring a major overhaul to Central Florida's tourism industry.

Six Orlando labor unions representing 38,000 workers say that they have tentatively reached a "historic" agreement with Walt Disney World to raise starting hourly pay from $10 to $15 by 2021.

If approved by union members in September, the new contract would raise the minimum wage at Disney to $11 by December 2018 and keep going up in yearly increments until reaching $15 in October 2021. The Service Trades Council Union said this week that the new four-year contract agreement makes "no major concessions" to the theme park company regarding union rights and benefits.

A Disney spokesperson said the company was "thrilled our cast members will have the chance to vote on what is one of the highest entry-level service wages in the country."

This battle for a living wage has been anything but easy. Union members have stopped traffic with their rallies and forced people to consider how the region's thriving tourism industry remains profitable by paying workers wages low enough to force them into poverty.

The potential agreement with Disney, though, could change that. Labor unions estimate the contract will bring a $1 billion influx of additional wages into the Central Florida economy over four years as other local theme parks and businesses follow Disney's lead. Fifteen dollars an hour could be the new norm for Central Florida and hopefully we'd see less people sleeping in their cars after working 40 hours a week.

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