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Union and Disney head back to the bargaining table in ongoing contract dispute

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Representatives from Disney and Unite HERE Local 11 will meet this afternoon to continue negotiations on a contract that covers about 1300 workers at the three Disneyland Resort hotels. Cast members have been working without a contract since the previous agreement expired in early 2008, and the negotiations have been marked by numerous protests and actions by the union.

Disney presented the union with a "last, best and final" offer in December, 2008, an offer that union leaders rejected in January without a vote by the membership. The two sides have not met for negotiations so far this year.

The union states that Disney requested today's negotiation session after the union declined a second time to accept the offer, and that they expect Disney to now propose additional "take-aways" from the contract.

The sticking point continues to be health insurance. Under the former contract, covered employees that work a minimum of 70 hours a month are eligible for free health care for their entire family. Disney proposes to transfer these workers to the Disney Signature health plan available to the rest of the cast members at the Disneyland Resort, and would require workers to pay a monthly premium for the coverage.

Unite HERE Local 11 Secretary-Treasurer Ada Briceno says that the union is prepared to stage "huge actions" against Disney if the company will not drop the proposal to remove the covered workers from the union health care plan. Earlier this year union members voted to join a strike fund, and Briceno will not rule out the possibility of a strike, saying the union is "at a really good place here at the start of the summer to gain attention for our issues."

A Disney spokesperson said that the Resort will have a statement after today's negotiation session.

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