The author, Glynndana Shevlin, is a 29-year veteran food and beverage concierge at Disney’s resort in Anaheim. She is a member of the union Unite Here, Local 11.
When Republicans in Congress passed major tax legislation last year, they promised it would benefit lower- and middle-class Americans. They promised it wouldn’t be just another tax giveaway for the corporations and the richest 1 percent.
Disney, Walmart, Apple, and a few other corporations got positive headlines for announcing small bonuses to select staff members. After the headlines faded, the reality of who actually received those bonuses tells a different story.
I’ve worked at Disneyland resorts as a food and beverage concierge for 29 years. In January, Disney told 125,000 full- and part-time employees that they would get a one-time $1,000 bonus. Thousands of my coworkers and I will likely will never see this money, and it’s a perfect example of how the tax law sold out working families and why Congress should not trust big corporations to do the right thing when gifted with a huge tax cut.
Our labor union, Unite Here 11, is currently undergoing contract negotiations with Disney where we are demanding a living wage and reasonable benefits. Disney is withholding the $1,000 bonuses and holding them over our heads until we agree to their contract.
This bonus was supposed to be the proof that the tax bill is benefitting working families. Instead, Disney is trying to force us to accept stagnant wages that are barely enough to live on.
Despite my decades of service, my salary has remained stagnant and I’ve slipped further into poverty. I’ve been evicted from my home twice, with a constant worry about it happening again. Necessities I need to survive, like food on the table and a place to sleep, are often luxuries. I have worked full time my entire adult life, and yet I am still poor.
While I struggle to barely make ends meet, Disney brings in an estimated $14 billion annually before taxes and will receive an estimated $1.6 billion a year in savings from the Republican-passed tax law.
I am disturbed and disappointed that while they build new theme parks and hotels, or put out feel-good movies about respect and empathy, they continue to hold this small bonus hostage.
This speaks to the larger problem of the tax bill: It was never meant to be a benefit for the middle class. It is a giveaway that helps the rich at the expense of working families. Rather than putting money directly in our pockets, we’re supposed to trust that multibillion-dollar companies are going to pass down the benefits.
Corporate CEOs admitted on video before the tax law passed that they did not plan on using the savings to invest in their employees. They were right. Corporations are only giving 13 percent of their savings to employee raises and benefits, while the majority is going to stock buybacks and shareholder dividends.
I’m angry that our local members of Congress like Rep. Mimi Walters, who represents much of the area around Disney where my coworkers are struggling to find affordable homes, voted for this bill. And she continues to support it even though working Americans like myself are speaking out that we aren’t reaping the rewards. The tax law will add nearly $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, which will likely be paid for by cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
American workers deserve to have tax cuts go directly to us rather than trusting multibillion-dollar corporations like Disney to share the windfall. If our representatives in Congress were truly interested in helping the middle class, they would put the savings directly in our pockets.
You don’t have to be an economist to know that trickle-down economics doesn’t work — just ask the workers themselves. Ask us and we’ll tell you that we’re not seeing the benefits we were promised. We’ll tell you that our members of Congress sold us out for corporate giveaways.
Republicans marketed the tax bill as magic for working Americans, but at the most magical place on earth, that remains only an illusion.