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Some Lyft drivers at Disney World put brakes on union

Last Updated Sep 18, 2018 at 3:00 pm EST

ORLANDO, Fla. – Some drivers who transport Walt Disney World visitors around the theme park resort after being summoned by a Lyft app want to put the brakes on joining a union.

A half-dozen of the drivers last month filed statements with the National Labor Relations Board saying they never sought union representation and are happy with their working conditions. The Lyft drivers are Disney World employees who earn extra money by driving guests in red-and-white, polka-dot colored vehicles called “Minnie Vans.”

The local Teamsters union had asked that the five-to-six-dozen drivers be included in their bargaining units, and in May, a regional director of the labour board ruled in their favour. The Teamsters already represented bus drivers, as well as costumed characters at Disney World.

Disney appealed the decision, asking the board to delay any efforts requiring the company to bargain over the “Minnie Van” drivers until a final ruling is made.

Those “Minnie Van” drivers opposed to joining the union also asked to join the labour dispute between the Teamsters and Disney, siding with Disney. They said they feared they would be forced into the Teamsters pension plan, lose seniority and lose income.

“I have never asked Teamsters or any other union to represent me in my job at Disney, nor has Teamsters asked me my views on whether I wanted to be subject to representation,” wrote “Minnie Van” driver Mary Hogan, who has worked as a cashier and reservation-taker at Disney World.

Hogan and the other drivers opposed to unionization are being represented by the Virginia-based anti-union group, National Right to Work Legal Defence Foundation.

In papers filed with the board, the Teamsters said the drivers’ request to join the case was made too late in the process and that their interests are no different than those of the company.

The Teamsters local is part of a coalition of unions representing 38,000 workers at Disney World. Earlier this month, members of the coalition approved a new contract that increases the starting minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years.

Disney World and Lyft reached an agreement last year to start the new service which gives visitors an option to get around the theme park resort other than Disney buses. The “Minnie Van” drivers are instructed to tell stories to their passengers, advise them about things to do at Walt Disney World and help resolve any problems the Disney guests may encounter.

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP