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Disneyland's Mickey Mouse and Cinderella performers may unionize

Workers who bring Disneyland’s beloved characters to life — including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Cinderella — are looking to unionize.

Labor organizers announced the campaign Tuesday, saying performers want better safety conditions and scheduling policies to help keep the magic alive for visitors.

While most of the more than 35,000 workers at the Disneyland Resort already have labor unions, about 1,700 performers and character actors do not.

“This isn’t one of those situations where we’re out making the employer the bad guy,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association, which would represent the performers. “It is uniquely important Disney remains a place that people view as magical, and I think that (unionizing) will improve that across the board.”

Disney operates two theme parks — Disneyland and Disney California Adventure — and a shopping and entertainment area called Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Disneyland, the company’s oldest park, was the second-most visited theme park worldwide in 2022 with 16.8 million people coming through the gates, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

Union cards were circulated starting last week to promote forming a labor union under Actors’ Equity Association, which traditionally represents actors and stage managers and already represents theatrical performers at Walt Disney Co.’s Florida theme parks, organizers told The Associated Press.

Actors’ Equity officials declined to say how many cards were returned but said they hoped to collect them from more than half the performers, which would let them ask Disney to voluntarily recognize the union rather having to seek a vote through the National Labor Relations Board. They expect the process will take weeks.

Disneyland officials said in a statement that they believe cast members deserve the right to a confidential vote.

Taxin reported from Santa Ana, California. Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, also contributed to this report.

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