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Disney hotel workers walk off the job in 1-day strike

June 11, 2010 |  3:45 pm

More than 200 Disney hotel workers walked off the job Friday in a one-day strike that is the latest in a series of job actions at the Anaheim resort.

Representing the striking workers is Local 11 of the Unite Here union, which negotiates on behalf of some 2,100 Disney employees who have been without a contract for more than two years.

Local 11, known for its activist stance, has staged numerous public protests in a bid to pressure publicity-conscious Disney on contract negotiations.

The Disney workers contend the resort has made unreasonable demands to slash their healthcare coverage. Disney says it has made a fair offer and Local 11 is the only one of 31 resort unions whose members do not contribute to healthcare coverage. Local 11 also has alleged violations in seniority, workplace safety and other rules. Disney denies any such violations.

Sparking Friday’s walkout, the union says, was Disney’s recent firing of a union activist, MaryAnn Hegner, a 23-year bartender at the Disneyland Hotel. The reason for her termination remains in dispute.

According to Local 11, Hegner was officially let go for using profane language. But the union alleges that profanity was a pretext and that she was illegally fired in retaliation for union activities.

Disney says Hegner was fired for “good reason,” according to Suzi Brown, a Disney spokeswoman, who declined to elaborate. Brown did say the former bartender was offered a suspension in lieu of termination, but the union refused to accept it.

Disney was able to operate the three targeted hotels Friday without disruption of service, Brown said. She called the strike “a publicity stunt.” Local 11 called it  a manifestation of workers’ “increasing outrage” at Disney’s treatment of them.

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

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