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Steve Lopez: Disney responds to ‘electronic whip’ criticism

October 19, 2011 |  3:03 pm

My column today on Disney hotel workers, in which they share concerns about the possibility of rising healthcare costs and the use of a productivity-monitoring system they call the "electronic whip," has drawn lots of comments on our website from readers. While perusing the comments, I noticed that one was from Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown.

Steve lopezI'd like to thank Brown for reading, and of course she's free to comment, criticize, etc. However, I'd like to respond to a few of her charges.

"Mr. Lopez's use of a sensational headline for his lopsided column about Unite Here Local 11 and Disneyland Resort is disappointing," Brown wrote.

The headline was "Disneyland workers answer to 'electronic whip.' "

As I presume someone in Brown's line of work must know, writers of stories and columns don't generally write the headlines, and I didn't write this one. However, I considered it neither sensational nor disappointing. As for the column being "lopsided," I took a stand, which is the general purpose of a column, and Brown clearly disagrees with my conclusions, which is her right.

Brown further complains that Unite Here Local 11 leaders "repeatedly and deliberately have misstated the company's offer," which I don't know to be true. But the column does not misstate the company's offer.

"Unfortunately, Lopez omitted critical information we provided. Many laundries track production with automated systems because it saves employees from having to manually record the pieces they process and it provides timely feedback," Brown wrote.

The column stated clearly that productivity checks are common in the hotel industry, and that Disney has used the electronic system in Florida. As for omitting "critical information," I don't think Brown makes a case for that.

Brown also says Disney offered a contract that included wage increases, a reduced workload for housekeepers and a choice of healthcare.

I know. All of that was in my column.I can only presume Brown wasn't reading closely.

Brown also noted in her Web post that Disney has come to terms with the resort's 30 other unions, and with 66,000 employees nationwide.

The column, in fact, refers to the 30 other local unions, but not employees in other parts of the country.

"It's important for readers to get the full story," Brown said.

On that we're in agreement, and I think they did.


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-- Steve Lopez

Photo: Disneyland

Credit: Tammie Arroyo / Associated Press