With unanimous support from union leaders, Cast Members at Walt Disney World Resort today overwhelmingly ratified a five-year contract that sets them on the path to $15 an hour starting wage by 2021, representing one of the highest entry-level wages within the service industry in the United States.

This historic collective bargaining agreement will raise starting pay by 50 percent for more than 37,000 Cast Members in a variety of roles represented by the Service Trades Council Union, (STCU) including lifeguards, bus drivers, and housekeepers. It also demonstrates Disney’s continued investment in the future of its Cast Members.

“Our 50 percent wage increase will have a real, meaningful impact on our Cast and their families—and is part of our commitment to the thousands of Cast Members who make magic for our guests each and every day,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “Increasing wages for Cast Members represent a significant investment in Central Florida, and will provide a powerful boost to the local economy.”

This industry-leading shift to $15 an hour will be phased in over the next three years beginning in December when starting pay for hourly, non-tipped Cast Members will increase to $11 an hour. In March 2019, starting rates will rise to $12 an hour; $13 an hour in September 2019; $14 an hour in October 2020; and finally, $15 an hour in October 2021.

Eligible Cast Members will also receive a retroactive pay of 50 cents an hour or 3 percent, whichever is greater, dating back to Sept. 24, 2017; they will also receive a one-time, $1,000 bonus. Additionally, the increase will substantially raise the earning potential of current Cast Members whose pay is already above $10 an hour, giving them at least $4.75 an hour more by October 2021.

This collective bargaining agreement runs through October 2022.

This is the second significant contract agreement reached this summer between Disney theme parks and their largest unions. In July, the Disneyland Resort in California announced that it reached an agreement with its largest labor unions for a minimum wage rate increase of 40 percent within two years of the agreement. This puts Cast Members represented by Master Services Council at $15 per hour by 2019. The agreement at Disneyland benefits more than 9,700 Cast Members, is one of the most aggressive entry-level wages in the country and demonstrates Disney’s commitment to its valued Cast Members.

Since Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971, it has grown to be the largest single-site employer in the United States, employing over 74,000 Cast Members in more than 3,000 different job classifications. During the past 10 years, Walt Disney World Resort employment numbers have grown by 20 percent, adding 14,000 jobs. Leading up to the celebration of the resort’s 50th anniversary in 2021, more roles will be added to support the opening of new resorts and attractions throughout the theme parks, including immersive lands such as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2019.