Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly has a pretty good blog post up about the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association and its decision to have an anniversary dinner at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel, which is the site of a current dispute over health benefits for its workers. Arellano asks, “Why is the OC Hispanic Bar Association Kissing Disney’s Ass?” Well, I have a feeling that the answer to this question is similar to what LULAC expressed to me about the soft drink and fast food industry in the previous blog post. All of these Latino issue organizations have corporate sponsors and partners, and they are in some sort of balancing act whereby they have to weigh the good that they can do from taking the corporate money and having an event or funding programs vs. relying on the community and smaller donors.
I think that if more Latinos in the community realized that their civil rights organizations were to heavily tied to the corporate entities that produce sugar and junk food and perpetuate racial stereotypes like Disney has had a history of doing (of course, let’s not forget Disney’s labor history in regards to its hotel workers, which this blog has covered before back in the Summer of 2008), then there would be some sort of outrage about who exactly these associations serve. I have met one of the previous presidents of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, and I thought that she was approachable and even receptive to criticism and questions, similar to how I felt about Brent Wilkes of LULAC willingness to answer my own questions. Perhaps people in the community need to start asking the questions that Gustavo and I have been raising on the blogs. These organizations aren’t going to sever ties or consider other sponsors without more people questioning their relationships. Currently, the Walt Disney Company is listed as a sponsor of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association.
Disney wants its hotel workers who earn around $11 per hour to enroll in a health plan with costly premiums. Currently, 2,150 hotel workers are in a plan where they only pay co-payments for doctor’s visits and prescriptions. Plainly, these hotel workers are in an income bracket where they will have to make a choice between rent and health care or perhaps forgo coverage altogether. It is my hope that the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association reconsiders celebrating at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel in a display of solidarity with the workers who are fighting to keep more affordable health benefits. To add to the irony, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is going to be the keynote speaker at this event. I wonder if Secretary Solis would bestow the “corporate citizen award” upon Disney given its latest labor disputes. Hopefully, Secretary Solis and her people are keeping an eye on the Disney labor dispute and will consider the message that being a keynote speaker at this hotel may send to the workers who have been striking.
To read more about the Disney labor disputes, please check out this link.