About 43,000 unionized Disney World workers will be furloughed starting April 19, the largest wave of employees in Central Florida to be sent home without pay because of the coronavirus crisis.
The Service Trades Council Union, a coalition of six locals, announced the news Saturday on Facebook Live. The coalition said Disney had agreed to provide free health care benefits for a year and will keep paying for a program called Disney Aspire that gives workers a free education. About 200 union workers deemed essential will stay on the job, the union said.
It’s the latest and most crushing blow to Central Florida’s economy in the midst of the pandemic.
Disney World is poised to furlough most of its 77,000 employees, both union and non-union. Adding that number of people to the unemployment rolls would nearly triple metro Orlando’s unemployment rate from 2.9% in February, the latest figure available, to 8.5% now, according to data from the state.