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Walt Disney World requiring COVID vaccine for unionized cast members

by Susan and Simon Veness

Walt Disney World has come to an agreement with the Service Trades Council Union, and as of Oct. 22, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for unionized cast members.

Walt Disney World cast member

The 8-week countdown is on for any remaining Walt Disney World employees who have not yet received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. When that time elapses, they will either have to show proof of full vaccination or be “separated from the company.”

The agreement between Disney and STCU, the union which represents more than 30,000 cast members, was announced on Aug. 23.

There are exemptions, however. Cast members with certain medical conditions, and those with “sincerely held religious beliefs,” can petition the company for negotiations toward an exemption.

The process will ensure prompt attention to the request, weekly meetings between Disney and the Union if issues arise, an explanation in the event the request is denied, and the ability to enter into a “grievance procedure” if the cast member chooses to dispute the denial.

Should a cast member choose not to be vaccinated, and also forgoes the exemption process, termination from the company will occur, with a “yes” rehire status, STCU has announced.

A union representative was quoted by local news outlet WFTV9 insisting that Disney will make “every effort to reasonably accommodate employees with a medical or religious accommodation need in their current role or classification.”

To aid in easy access to compliance, Disney will host several weeks of on-site vaccination events, offering cast members free Pfizer injections. More information will be available to them on the HUB.

WFTV9 also quoted a Disney spokesperson as saying, “We appreciate the communication and collaboration with the union representatives as we put the safety of our Cast Members at the forefront of our health and safety protocols — getting the vaccine is the best way to protect each other.”

The requirement comes on the heels of a late July mandate in which Walt Disney World insisted all salaried and non-union hourly employees working at any of its locations in the U.S. must be fully vaccinated.

In addition, an announcement was made recently that all guests ages 12 and up boarding Disney Cruise Line ships for a Bahamas sailing must be fully vaccinated in order to visit a port.

At this time, Disney is having ongoing discussions with other unions.

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