Coronavirus forces Disney World to furlough 43,000 more workers

It is the largest wave of furloughs since the theme park resort closed in mid-March because of the new coronavirus spread

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Walt Disney World will stop paying 43,000 workers, while allowing them to keep medical benefits for up to a year.

It is the largest wave of furloughs since the theme park resort closed in mid-March because of the new coronavirus spread.

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Workers will be able to keep their medical, dental and life insurance benefits for the length of the furlough period, or up to a year.

Seniority and wage rates will remain unchanged for the workers whose furloughs start April 19, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council, the coalition of unions representing the Disney World workers.

“The union agreement provides stronger protections and benefits for 43,000 union workers at Disney than virtually any other furloughed or laid-off workers in the United States," the union said in a statement to members.

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About 200 workers will remain on the job performing “essential duties" during the closure, and they will be offered positions based on seniority, the union said.

Disney World’s theme parks, entertainment district and hotels closed in mid-March, and Disney has been paying its workers while they stay at home. That is scheduled to end April 19, Disney officials have said, because they don’t know when the theme park resort will reopen.

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On Friday, unions representing security guards and workers involved in facilities and operations reached agreements under similar terms.

Earlier this week, Disney World and a union representing musicians who perform at its theme parks reached a similar agreement.

Disney also said it would furlough executive, salaried and hourly nonunion employees whose jobs aren't necessary at this time.

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Disney's cross-town rivals, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, and their sister parks across the country, also closed their gates last month because of the coronavirus. SeaWorld said it had furloughed 90% of its workers.

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Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood said this week that they would stay closed through May 31. Full-time employees will be paid at 100% through April 19, but pay and workload for most workers will be reduced to 80% after that, and part-time hourly workers will be furloughed beginning May 3, Universal said. The company said it would continue to provide benefits for employees who already had them.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.