Disney reaches COVID-19 vaccine agreement with over 30,000 union employees

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Disney, the Service Trades Council Union and Actors Equity Association have reached an agreement on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for over 30,000 of the entertainment giant's union employees at its Florida theme parks. 

"We appreciate the communication and collaboration with the union representatives as we put the safety of our Cast Members at the forefront of our health and safety protocols – getting the vaccine is the best way to protect each other," a Disney spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. 

Disney previously announced that salaried and non-union employees would have to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 28 and provide proof of vaccination to enter the company's offices. All new hires at the company will also need to be fully vaccinated before beginning employment.

Discussions with Disney's other unions are ongoing.

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According to a memorandum of understanding, Walt Disney World cast members represented by the STCU must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 22. Employees seeking medical or religious accommodations will be eligible to apply through a negotiated process. 

"This process ensures the prompt processing of requests for accommodation, weekly meetings between the Union and Company to address concerns as they arise, an explanation if any accommodation is denied, and access to the grievance procedure should there be a dispute on the accommodation request" the union said in a statement posted to Twitter Monday. "Disney will make every effort to reasonably accommodate employees with a medical or religious accommodation need in their current role or classification."

Medical accommodation requests must be accompanied with a note from the employee's medical provider confirming the existence of a disability or medical condition, the duration and resulting limitations and information about how those limitations prevent the employee from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. As for religious accommodations, the employee will need to explain the nature of the religious belief, practice or observance and how it prevents the employee from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

The STCU emphasizes that Disney reserves the right to discuss accommodation requests with the employee's doctor if the documentation provided is not sufficient or their religion’s spiritual leader or another third party who is aware of the employee’s religious belief, practice or observation.

Disney union employees who do not comply with vaccination requirement and do not request a legitimate accommodation will be separated from the company with a "yes" rehire status. 

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Details of the agreement with Actors Equity Association were not disclosed. An AEA spokesperson did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment. 

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The announcement coincides with Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine receiving full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for individuals ages 16 and older. In addition to COVID-19 vaccines being readily available, the union says Disney will host on-site vaccination events over the next several weeks. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 171.1 million Americans, or 62.5% of U.S. adults, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to date while approximately 201.7 million Americans, or 73.1% of U.S. adults, have received at least one dose. 

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