Bernie Sanders will meet Disney workers in Anaheim on June 2, ahead of proposed ballot measure to raise wages

Bernie Sanders will meet Disney workers in Anaheim on June 2, ahead of proposed ballot measure to raise wages

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a vocal critic of the Walt Disney Co. since his 2016 presidential campaign, is coming to Anaheim to meet with workers from businesses in and around the Disneyland Resort.


Sanders will be in town Saturday, June 2, for a roundtable-type event where he’ll talk with a selection of people from a variety of industries that serve the theme park, nearby hotels and other related businesses, said Andrew Cohen, a spokesman for Unite Here Local 11. The event at River Church is open to the public.


Unite Here is one of 11 unions in a coalition that is backing an initiative that would raise wages for workers at hospitality businesses – including Disney – that have received subsidies from Anaheim. The ballot measure seeks to raise wages at affected businesses to at least $15 an hour in 2019 and to $18 an hour by 2022.


Supporters turned in signatures to the City Clerk on May 1 trying to qualify the measure for the November ballot. The signatures are being validated.


“I think Sen. Sanders is like a leading voice on American inequality and has been championing the rights of workers in a way that sadly not a lot of politicians do right now,” Cohen said.


The event will call attention to the unions’ ballot effort, he said, but it’s also a big deal because “Bernie’s a rock star, and people in the labor movement, we love this guy.”


A collection of business and community groups including Visit Anaheim, the California Restaurant Association and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce have come out against the ballot proposal, calling it a “job killer” they say would cause developers to flee and the city to lose jobs and revenue.


“If this measure qualifies for the ballot, it will be an important issue that will give Anaheim residents a lot to think about, given its impact on jobs and investment in our community,” Anaheim chamber CEO Todd Ament said Friday.


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“It’s hard to see how a former presidential candidate and U.S. senator from Vermont contributes to that process, rather than just grandstanding on a local issue for his own purposes,” Ament said.


No one in Sanders’ office could be reached for comment.


Sanders has called Disney out in speeches and on social media before. At a 2016 Anaheim campaign rally he referred to “starvation wages,” and last month on Twitter and Facebook, he criticized CEO Bob Iger’s reported nine-figure compensation and said the company can afford to pay a living wage.


Cohen said Sanders is expected to discuss his proposal, announced in April, to guarantee all Americans training and $15-an-hour jobs on public works projects and in service fields such as education. That concept dovetails with the unions’ goals, Cohen said.


If you go


When: Doors open at 9 a.m., and Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to appear at 10 a.m.


Where: River Church, 201 E. Broadway, Anaheim


Details: The event is free and open to the public.


RELATED:


Disney unions’ ballot drive seeks to raise wages up to $18 an hour for hospitality companies that take Anaheim subsidies


Disneyland Resort workers struggle to pay for food, housing and medical care, union survey finds


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