Bernie Takes on Disney [OPINION]
I am no fan of corporate greed, but I am less of a fan of the government telling private industry how it must compensate its workers, especially if it involves a socialist like Bernie Sanders.
The Guardian says Sanders is accusing Disney of not paying its California theme park employees a "living wage," and even participated a protest outside Disneyland in June.
What business is it of Sanders to tell Disneyland what to pay its employees? Aren't there enough radical leftists in California to worry about that? Where is Maxine Waters?
There is a living wage ordinance facing California voters in November. It would be applicable to any large company receiving municipal tax breaks. If passed, Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure would be required to pay 30,000 employees at least $15 an hour. It would increase to $18 an hour by 2022, and keep pace with inflation thereafter. You can certainly debate the merits of that.
Disney has actually decided to forgo hundreds of millions in tax subsidies in hopes of beating the living wage requirement, and has increased wages for many of its employees while negotiating increases with many others. This is a matter for the employee labor unions, and not the government.
Once upon a time, I thought how wonderful it might be to retire to Orlando and operate the controls at Space Mountain or become a tour guide on the Jungle Cruise. Upon learning how little Disney actually pays its employees and how little job stability exists in a climate controlled by a tourist-driven economy, I decided I'd be better off pursuing something a bit more sensible.
If your dream is to great kids while wearing a Goofy costume for minimum wage, have at it. If your goal is to feed your family and buy gas for your car, well, maybe a career at the theme parks isn't for you.
There will always be plenty of people willing to work at the Disney Theme Parks for what is being offered, and when there is not, Disney will do something about it. In the meantime, Bernie ought to worry about something other than government control of private industry.
By the way, Bernie, the minimum wage in your home state is only $10 per hour!
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.