Cast Members and Imagineers Hope Disney Will Halt Their Relocation to Florida Due to Ongoing Political Rift

Erich Schwartzel with the Wall Street Journal has written a new piece about the clash between The Walt Disney Company and Florida, and the Cast Members meant to move to Florida who are caught in the middle.

After Disney finally spoke out against the Parental Rights in Education bill, a.k.a. the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis launched an attack against them, attempting to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District. This comes over a year after it was announced Walt Disney Imagineers and other Disney employees would be moved from California to Florida.

Approximately 2,000 Cast Members in the Disney Parks division were told in July of last year that they would need to move to Florida or risk losing their jobs. They were given 90 days to decide. A Disney spokeswoman said that more employees chose to relocate than initially expected. However, given the political climate of Florida, many are more hesitant to move than they were before and are hoping the decision is reversed.

California Governor Gavin Newsome tweeted, “Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California—the state that actually represents the values of your workers.” Colorado Governor Jared Polis joked that he would offer “full asylum” to Disney.

The Wall Street Journal cited a former Disney Parks employee who is gay and is hoping to have a child in the next few years. He had worked for Disney in California for years but said he wasn’t comfortable moving to Florida after the new law passed.

It’s not just the “Don’t Say Gay” bill causing hesitation. One Imagineer was worried about Florida’s more lax restrictions regarding COVID-19. The possible dissolution of Reedy Creek is also raising concerns.

The jobs being relocated to Florida would be lucrative for the state and Disney. They are expected to get an estimated $570 million in tax breaks over the next two decades. The move would start in 2023 and continue through the end of 2024. Employees who initially said they would move then later changed their minds may lose severance payouts — usually a week’s pay for every year of employment. A Disney spokeswoman said that they have been flexible with employees and their personal situations.

In a recent meeting, Cast Members cited the fifth key of “Inclusion” added by Disney in late 2020. The keys provide a foundation for the culture and training of The Walt Disney Company. Employees feel that the move to Florida may go against what the “Inclusion” key is all about. A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment on this criticism.

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