|By Scott Powers, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Nov. 18, 2006 - The first workers to greet many tourists at Walt Disney World will soon be some other company's employees.
Disney World plans to turn over at least 167 bell, valet and baggage service jobs to an outside company in January. The jobs will go to Baggage Airlines Guest Service (BAGS), the company that already runs Disney's Magical Express, the service that transports Disney's visitors to and from Orlando International Airport.
Union officials plan to protest. "We are not happy about it," said Joe Condo, international vice president of the Transportation and Communications Union, which represents the affected workers.
Disney is planning to offer them other jobs at comparable wages, tip opportunities and hours, said spokesman Jacob DiPietre.
"The details are still being negotiated with the union," he said.
"Comparable: that's going to be the magic question," Condo responded. "And why are they doing it in the first place? To save money. That's why we are going to fight this."
He said the union contract would prevent the company from subcontracting the services to save money. Condo said Disney officials told him that the change was being made to improve quality, but he said he didn't believe that, adding, "That's a slap to our workers."
Disney World has recently subcontracted several other duties, involving a few hundred of its 59,000 employees, including 120 overnight custodians being replaced in December. But until now, such changes affected workers who aren't in contact with the public, because they either work late-night shifts or in nonpublic areas.
The bell and baggage-service workers typically are the first to greet Disney visitors when they get out of a bus, taxi or car. Valet workers attend to hotel guests in their rooms.
The BAGS workers reportedly will be dressed in themed costumes.
Not every Disney hotel will be affected initially. The change begins with the Grand Floridian Resort on Jan. 7. Other hotels where Disney intends to contract out the baggage services include the All-Star Resort and the Pop Century Resort.
Scott Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5441.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.
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