As a Professional Intern with the Labor Relations department at the world renowned Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, I have had an experience like none other. I have been privileged enough to work on a multitude of important projects, to shadow a number of talented and extraordinary people, and to be a part of negotiating a contract that impacts over 60,000 people—one of the largest employment contracts in the country. At this point in my internship, though only a few months in, I have already had the opportunity to attend a number of grievance hearings and to assist LR managers in preparing for and documenting these hearings, hopefully in preparation to eventually lead a grievance hearing on my own. In addition, I was fortunate enough to witness arbitration hearings on two separate occasions in which I was assigned to take meticulous notes to provide the Company representative in each case with a detailed transcript of the hearing with which to write up briefs for the arbitrator. Finally, I was allowed to attend negotiations for the main body of the contract between Disney and the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) for full time employees and I was able to assist in the negotiations for part time employees as an official note-taker.
As interns, the three other ILR students and I are truly utilized as assets to the Company. I never imagined that the “lowly intern” could possibly be of any use to such an enormous and successful company, and yet each of us has worked on a number of projects that are valuable and have impacts on thousands of employees. I have personally helped to create and continue to update a document that assists the LR department in communicating with and allocating responsibilities to all of the various operations within the Company to ensure proper implementation of the recently ratified STCU Collective Bargaining Agreement. Simultaneously, I have aided in archiving negotiations documents to assure historical accuracy, while also communicating with managers in the field to guarantee the distribution of accurate information regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement and its impacts.
The biggest challenge of being a Professional Intern at Disney is the knowledge that the work we do is so important and influences the lives of so many people. It is fulfilling yet nerve-wracking, but fortunately the amazing LR department and the exceptional employees that work there enable us to succeed as valuable employees. In addition, the exciting benefits that Disney offers outside of work permit us as interns to enjoy its parks for free to alleviate some of the pressures of working a challenging 40-hour business week.
- Ryan Burns, BSILR'16