Anaheim City Council leaves initiative that would increase Disneyland, other resort-area wages up to voters

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- Anaheim City Council members decided Tuesday night to leave an initiative that would require Disney and other resort areas in the city to pay workers a higher minimum wage up to the voters.

The meeting started around 5 p.m. to discuss the issue and lasted several hours as dozens of people spoke during public comment.

"Let's make Disneyland pay decent wages. I only make $11.41 and I've been there almost five years," Disney employee Armando Gonzalez said.

The initiative, which was sponsored by a coalition of Disney workers and other hotel worker unions, received about 21,000 signatures, which means it can also go on the November ballot.

If the initiative passes, it would require Disney and other resort areas that get subsidies from the city to pay workers a minimum wage of $15 by 2019. The wage will then increase $1 every year until 2022. Workers said the living wage is vital.

"We've got cast members that are living in their cars right now. I, myself, had to move out of Anaheim because I could no longer afford it here. I drive an hour-plus each way to work. I don't eat three meals a day, I simply can't afford to," said Shannon Johnson, a worker at Disney's Grand Californian hotel.

But Todd Ament, president for Anaheim's chamber of commerce, said there would be a direct impact to businesses and jobs if the initiative passes.

"Direct impact immediately - we know for a fact two of the four-diamond hotels that are slated to be built in our city will cancel those projects. That's 3,000 construction jobs for about four years and about 1,000 ongoing jobs at all levels...(they) would be killed," he said.

The council had the choice to vote on the initiative, or request an economic impact report, which would have halted the vote for about 30 days. But the council chose to leave the decision up to the voters come November.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of this station.
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