Response to an article “It’s a small labor world after all”

Dave 0
Here’s a letter I sent to Erin Uy who write the article "It’s a small labor world after all" for the Orange County Register on April 7th, 2006.  The article talked about the difficulty that Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland is having hiring people for the summer season, and quoting the parks as saying that is has to do with low unemployment and competing for employees.
 
Here is the email I sent to the writer:
 
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Hello Erin,
 
I wanted to give you some more insight on your article "It’s a small labor world after all" from April 7, 2006.
 
I am a current employee working in the park at Disneyland.  I started working there in 2003 in attractions, then moved to Guest Relations, working with guests and giving guided tours.  I’m 31, so I’ve been around a bit longer than most of the kids working there – I’ve worked at Microsoft for almost 4 years, Ernst & Young and NetManage.  Now, I have my own technical consulting business and I work at the park for fun, and for the history.
 
With that being said, my opinion on why Disneyland can’t hire enough people has nothing to do with unemployment rates, employee pools, or any other excuse the parks give you.  The real reasons are simple: Poor pay and poor management.  I worked in the park from the middle of 2003 until August 2005 and finally quit because I could not longer handle the stupidity, lack of concern for employees and low pay for high demand.
 
The management makes ridiculous decisions about employees on a daily basis.  They care little about the "warm bodies" that work for them, and barely schedule enough people to do the job in some areas.  Which means that when someone calls out sick, they either overload whoever did come to work, or they scramble to fill the spot by calling someone in – sometimes.  On a regular basis, I was aware of managers who barely knew the employees that they were "responsible for" (home room managers).  Or, favoritism and preferential treatment was given to those who were buddies with the managers (whether or not they did a good job in their area!)
 
As for pay, when you look at what is expected of the employees on contrast to their pay, it’s a joke.  Most of the employees are -required- to join the union and pay dues (for which I’ve heard they don’t get much help or representation – just look at the most recent contract settlement for proof), while they are worked 40, 50, and sometimes 60 hours a week for as little as $8.70 an hour.  Now, that may seem well enough – but once peak seasons are over, they still get paid $8.70 an hour but only get scheduled 20 hours a week.
 
I understand that Disney is operating a business, but please – JUST Disneyland is bringing in MILLIONS of dollars a day in ticket sales, food and merchandise purchases and travel monies.  This isn’t a "mom & pop" business bringing in a few hundred dollars a day.  I could go on and on with examples of the money that comes in compared to the money they pay employees.  Yes, I understand it’s expensive to run Disneyland – but please – one of the simplest ideas to understand and implement is this: take care of your employees, and your employees will take care of you.  THAT’S a story I’d like someone to write about Disneyland.
 
One way many people respond to me is "If it’s so bad, why do so many people work there?"  The answer is – from experience and from knowing A LOT of people around the park: "because people love Disneyland and love making the magic."  That’s why I’m there.  I bill $90 an hour for my consulting services, but I love working in the park.  It’s a great part time gig (when it’s part time), but it could be so much better if the company would treat the employees like ASSETS rather than LIABILITIES.  And whatever words you get from "corporate" don’t mean squat!  Go into the park and ask employees privately – the company is awful.  That’s a pretty sad statement when you’re talking about Disney.
 
The point of all my rambling is this: the word gets around.  I’ve told MANY people NOT to work for Disney – it’s a terrible company with a wonderful product.  And I know lots of other people who have told their friends the same thing.  Funny that Disney didn’t site that as a reason for not being able to hire enough people…
 
Sincerely,

Dave Tavres

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