Worker Correspondents: Universal Studios Understaffs and Overworks Workers

By a Universal Studios stocker

Universal Studios pits workers against each other through manipulative tactics to hide underlying issues with under-staffing.

Working in food service is a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. For example, customers who waited in line to buy a turkey leg but were unable to buy one will harass you for bringing turkey legs out after restocking, even though we can only cook a set amount of turkey legs at a time. Once we run out, it is difficult to restock them because one stocker is responsible for stocking multiple locations and there is also backstage work with prepping and cleaning. The customers get upset with the tired, overworked workers even though it is Universal’s fault for not hiring enough workers to keep up with demand. Did I mention that one turkey leg is worth exactly 1 hour of my work? One single turkey leg costs 15 dollars. My pay? 15 dollars an hour.

We face intense workloads during the busier seasons and random days with a huge increase in guests. For these busy seasons, Universal hires more people than will be needed when the season ends, causing scheduling conflicts. Once the busy season is over, many people are left without work for weeks as Universal leaves them off the schedule, leaving them short in monthly income, causing most of them to leave and find work elsewhere.

When it’s the slow season, workers who don’t look busy enough are harassed by management for being ‘lazy,’ and even threatened with being transferred to a ‘different’ (worse) department. Management is aware of the varying conditions of the different departments throughout the park and uses this knowledge to threaten workers instead of making conditions better.

Management also allows some cashiers to make commission on food from vending. Their pay drops to 8 dollars an hour as they also obtain tips on top of the commission from food. Due to the importance of the commission, vendor cashiers will get angry at stockers and cooks for not bringing out or cooking enough food fast enough. Universal is to blame for this conflict among workers. They lower the pay for the vendor cashiers when they make commission and tips despite them doing the same work that they do on days where they do not get commission or tips, and make 15 dollars an hour.

My department makes upwards of $150,000 in revenue in one day. In order for that revenue to have been made, people must make products in industries independent of Universal, cooks must cook the food, stockers and warehouse workers must move the product, and cashiers must sell the product. If around 70 workers in the department are needed to sell those products in a day, and each worker makes $120 per day, this is only $8,400 that Universal spends on labor, 5.6% of their daily revenue. Even with the cost of materials and overhead, they could easily pay us more, but they choose to not due to the importance of maximizing profit and minimizing costs in a capitalist economy.


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