ORLANDO, Fla. – At Universal Orlando’s two “endless summer” hotels, the Surfside is open, but 76 workers there have been affected by their recent announcement of layoffs and furloughs at the resort.
The nearby Dockside Inn is closed, with 256 workers hit by these cuts.
At the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal, barely anyone was around, with an empty lobby and lounge and just a couple of people down by the pool at one point in the day.
“It’s not surprising that there are layoffs and furloughs because the guests aren’t traveling yet to Orlando,” said Jeremy Haicken, UNITE HERE Local 737.
Haicken is president of the union which represents many workers at Walt Disney World Resort. He said these Universal employees do not have union representation and now have little means of support.
“What’s really concerning is whether those workers are going to have health insurance while they’re laid-off and whether they’re going to have the right to come back to their jobs when business picks up again,” he said.
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At the time this article was published, neither Universal nor Loews had responded to inquiries as to whether the workers will receive these benefits. UNITE 737 has been giving out free meals to unemployed hospitality workers on weekends to help.
“Here are going to be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of workers out of work for months, if not years,” Haicken added.
Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe represents the area and says the workforce reduction is bad news for the vital tourism economy here. She said unfortunately the county is running out of ways to help.
“Although we’ve come up with great programs to keep things rolling financially at the county with CARES funding, that also has a timestamp,” she explained. “We’re being creative, but it’s not enough to help everyone so we need jobs.”
Uribe said the county has given more help to local nonprofit groups like the American Red Cross that can help the affected workers.She said anyone in need should absolutely contact these groups.