ORLANDO, Fla. - It's been a tough week for many central Florida hospitality workers.
SeaWorld broke the news in a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that many of its furloughed staff would be laid-off, but not saying how many workers will be affected, or what their roles were at their parks.
On Saturday morning, there was another long line of hospitality workers queuing-up for free food in Orlando, courtesy of UNITE Here Local 737, which represents hospitality workers.
“The line today is longer than it's ever been. It's down La Quinta Drive, out OBT, to Landstreet, and at least another mile-and-a-half down Landstreet. It's never been like this before,” said Jeremy Haicken, UNITE Here Local 737’s president.
This closed-out a week that had Universal Orlando saying they were laying off or extending furloughs on more than 1,200 of their hospitality staff. Now, SeaWorld says that many of their furloughed workers were being laid-off from their jobs -- all because of a lack of visitors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it's really shameful that these hospitality companies like Universal and SeaWorld, that made billions in the economic boom, are now kicking workers to the curb and now they're in line for food they can't afford on their own,” Haicken said.
In the spring, SeaWorld furloughed 95-percent of its workforce to "reduce operating expenses and adjust cash flows." Many of those employees were part-time. Local leaders say it shows the need for their continued support.
“When you hear that SeaWorld has lost millions of dollars, and I'm sure as responsible employers they're gonna try to keep on as much as they could, but we're just not seeing the numbers,” said Mayra Uribe, an Orange County Commissioner. "So it's really bad for us economically because it just makes more challenges and barriers on how we're going to move forward.”
SeaWorld operates a dozen parks across five states. They didn't state in their letter to the SEC which of those parks was going to be affected by these cuts.