The Walt Disney Co. announced impressive quarterly profit results Tuesday, but it was bitter news for the activists at odds with the company over its opposition to a mandatory paid sick time referendum in Orange County.
But Disney has also helped lead the fight against local governments adopting mandatory paid sick time rules, joining with other powerful business foes who say it would kill jobs.
Paid sick time proponents say Disney shouldn't use those profits to block such local efforts.
"Disney's success is built on the backs of hardworking families," said Stephanie Porta, executive director in Organize Now, which aligned with other labor and progressive groups to push for mandatory earned sick time. "Using the spoils of that success to ensure our community will never get to vote on earned sick time sounds like something one of their movie villains would do, but sadly that's the true story of the Disney corporation."
A Disney spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
Last fall, Disney helped block such a referendum from going to Orange voters. The company -- along with others such as Red Lobster's corporate parent, Darden Restaurants -- worked with Central Florida Republican state lawmakers on a bill that passed last week which would block passage of future local measures across the state.
That bill, HB 655, is expected to be signed soon by Gov. Rick Scott. If he does, it could nullify the local Orange referendum, which is now set to go to local primary voters in August 2014.
A judicial panel ruled that Orange commissioners violated its charter by blocking it from the Nov. 6 ballot, and ordered it be put back on the next ballot.
The communications between those county leaders and lobbyists for Disney, Mears Transportation and other area hotel and tourism opponents is now at the center of an open government civil lawsuit, along with a separate state criminal investigation into similar public record and meeting allegations.