Sen. Bernie Sanders calls for fair wages, justice reform during SoCal visit

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders drew big crowds as he crisscrossed Southern California on Saturday and called for fair wages and justice reform.

The former Democratic presidential candidate was in Anaheim meeting with union workers at Disneyland, supporting their push for wage increases.

Disney is in negotiations over wage hikes that would impact nearly 10,000 workers at the theme park. Several unions are backing a ballot measure that would raise wages to at least $15 an hour next year and $18 an hour by 2022.

"Working seven days a week is not healthy for you. Not getting any sleep is not healthy for you, and, once again, this gets back to fundamental, economic policy. Disney, pay these workers a living wage," Sanders said.

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Disneyland Resort is aiming to offer some union cast members a starting wage of $15 an hour by 2020.

"This is a complete job killer," said Todd Ament of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. "If this initiative were to pass, it would affect hundreds of Anaheim businesses that employ many Orange County residents. It would be a major loss of investment in the Anaheim resort."

A Disney spokesperson said the company believes it has a fair wage increase offer on the table.

In a statement to ABC7, the company said: "We currently are negotiating one of the largest union contracts at Disneyland Resort, with an offer that increases starting wages 36 percent over three years, paying $15 an hour by 2020 - two years ahead of California's minimum wage. In addition, we are launching an education program that will help hourly cast members pursue skills and degrees to further their careers. We are proud of our commitment to our cast, and the fact that more people choose to work at Disneyland Resort than anywhere else in Orange County. While Mr. Sanders continues to criticize Disney to keep himself in the headlines, we continue to support our cast members through investments in wages and education."

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.
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