Bored with smelly costumes and gropey vacationers, the Disney World costumed characters – Mickey Mouse and Co. – needed to unionize.

Within the early Nineteen Eighties, the costumed characters approached the Teamsters union, a much less magical group with lengthy ties to the mafia that was a coalition of truck drivers and warehouse staff.

“I’ve all the time been fascinated by this actually bizarre marriage between the Teamsters and the costume character performers,” stated Mike Schneider who’s chronicling the story of Native 385 in his new guide, “Mickey and the Teamsters.”

For 25 years, Schneider has lined Orlando for the Related Press, writing about hurricanes, the Pulse nightclub shootings, the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman trials and different information. Walt Disney World is very studied and written about, however Schneider zeroes on the untold story concerning the longtime rigidity between the Disney costumed characters and the Teamsters at Disney World.

Schneider recounts that performers finally threatened to depart the Native 385 over corrupt management. They felt their union was run in an authoritarian method, as a substitute of as a democracy with no monetary transparency. 

The continued drama put Mickey Mouse, Goofy and the opposite performers in a lonely place within the late 2010s. They fought the corporate and Disney’s strict guidelines on the identical time they had been at battle with their very own native that was supposed to guard them.

The battle between the performers and the native Teamsters boiled up all the way in which to Washington the place the Worldwide’s Common President James Hoffa – sure, the son of notorious Jimmy Hoffaintervened in 2019.

Schneider, who has lined the combat at Native 385 for years, interviewed Disney staff and native labor leaders for his guide. He finds the heroine of the story in Donna-Lynne Dalton, the native’s enterprise consultant who rallied for the Disney performers and misplaced her job due to it.

Schneider is lively in his personal union on the NewsGuild.

“Union democracy, for me, is a vital precept, as a result of it’s our union,” Schneider stated. “However generally, particularly say a union just like the Teamsters, the place the native president has plenty of autonomy, there’s some huge cash concerned. The native in Orlando was producing $3 million to $4 million in dues coming from their 9,000 members. … In case you don’t have correct checks and balances, and also you don’t have the precise chief, it may well very simply vie to authoritarian choices.”

As a result of Schneider’s guide is about in Florida, you’ll find loads of quirky anecdotes that illustrate the distinctive nature and perils of the job.

One such story is a couple of Tiger performer charged with sexual molestation after he was accused of touching a 13-year-old lady’s breasts in a gaggle photograph at Disney World. 

His protection lawyer labored as a Disney costumed character. (It’s a small world!) 

Throughout closing arguments, the protection wore a Tiger costume to make his key argument as he fought to maintain his shopper out of jail for 15 years.

“He stated to the jurors, ‘That is my pal Tiger,’” Schneider stated. “After which he proceeds to place the costume on in entrance of the jurors to point out how restrictive the costume will be.”

Within the jury room, jurors may put on the costume to check out the restricted peripheral imaginative and prescient within the cumbersome costume which made it laborious to know the place your arms went, Schneider stated. It was the sort of trial that might solely occur in Orlando (or perhaps Anaheim.)

Ultimately, the protection’s technique labored, and the performer was acquitted in 2004.

Schneider admits he’s a cynic. Undoubtedly it comes with the territory of being a longtime reporter masking among the worst moments in humanity.

What struck Schneider in his reporting was how pure the Disney performers’ love for his or her job was.

“I can’t understate how a lot these character performers actually consider in that magic,” Schneider stated. “They do all the pieces to attach with the company and preserve that magic.”

For Disney followers and other people concerned about labor points, the following cease in Schneider’s guide tour is March 22 on the University Club of Winter Park.

“Mickey and the Teamsters”  is on sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the University Press of Florida.

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