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January 14, 2003

Walt Disney World Performers Benefit from Equity Achievements


In October 2002, Orlando Staff reached a settlement with Walt Disney World Co. for more than 50 performers. A new rule negotiated into the 2000-2004 Collective Bargaining Agreement with Disney requires a payment to performers for use of their photographic likeness in a product for retail sale.

A series of “Birnbaum’s Guidebooks” published jointly by Disney Editions and Hearst Business Publishing features numerous photographs of Equity performers who were not paid for the use of their photographic likenesses. Equity discovered this and filed a grievance in April of 2002.

The claim for the 2000, 2001 & 2002 editions of the books total $15,300. Individual performers have received payments ranging from $150 to $900. Performers will continue to be paid for the usage of their photographic likeness in future Birnbaum’s publications.


In December an agreement was reached following more than a year of effort by Equity Staff regarding payments of the newly negotiated Contract Completion Bonuses for performers whose employment was ended through no fault of their own. Equity had contended that performers who were laid off or whose shows were closed were due a pro-rated portion of the Contract Completion Bonus for the work they completed.

After much discussion, Disney agreed to compensate performers based on the number of weeks worked within the term of the original contract. This payment applies to performers whose Individual Employment Contract term was at least 12 months in duration and whose employment was ended by Disney since the current Collective Bargaining Agreement took effect on October 21, 2000. Performers who voluntarily resign or who are terminated for “Just Cause” are not eligible for the payment.

Approximately 85 performers benefited from the $35,000 total claim. Checks were mailed from the Orlando Equity Office on December 20th, providing many performers with a pleasant surprise for the Holidays.


Equity Staff has been working for individual performers as well. Recently, Equity disputed Disney’s attempt to terminate two performers, where the Company claimed the terminations were within the just cause provisions of the Rulebook. After much discussion with Disney management, Equity was able to save those two performers’ jobs.

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