1. Archive

Disney World performers join union

About 420 performers who work at Orlando's Walt Disney World recently acquired a benefit that has long been enjoyed by most of the theme park's other employees _ union representation. The performers are now represented by the newly formed Actors Equity Association, which was accepted on a 235-15 vote. The performers covered by the contract include actors, singers, dancers, gymnasts and disc jockeys who work in stage productions throughout the park.

Some 24,000 of Disney's 33,000 employees are represented by collective-bargaining agreements, according to Rod Madden, a spokesman for Disney. Disney has 11 contracts with 25 different unions, he said.

Among the unions representing Disney employees are Service Employees International Union, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, the Musicians Union and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

And, of course, there's the union that Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Snow White and all the other life-size Disney characters belong to: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.


Cellular phones are

party line of the '90s

According to those who know how to listen in, a lot of people who tool around town talking on their cellular phones don't seem to have any idea how public their conversations are.

It's a federal crime to intercept cellular conversations, but that doesn't repeal the laws of physics. The frequencies alloted to cellular phones are easily picked up by many scanners and even some old television sets.

"A lot of people are monitoring everything you say and do on cellular," says Tampa communications consultant Jack Schlecht, who spent 21 years in military intelligence.

"It doesn't help when you make their job so darn easy," Schlecht says.

His advice: For starters, don't order something with your credit card or get bank account information using your cellular phone unless you're feeling particularly charitable _ to people you don't know.

And, Schlecht says, don't count on scramblers to help. Most "belong in a novelty shop." Schlecht says it's better simply to be discreet.


For sale sign goes up

when business gets boring

Money is not the main reason owners of closely held mid-size businesses decide to sell. It's boredom or burnout, according to a survey reported in the CPA Client Bulletin, published by the American Institute of CPAs.

However, lack of operating or growth capital is listed as Reason No. 2. The third most common reason given for selling is lack of interest in the business on the part of the owner's children.


Bausch & Lomb products

join Olympics lineup

Now that the 1992 Olympics has an official copier, typewriter and postal service, it makes sense to acquire an official contact lens.

Bausch & Lomb of Rochester, N.Y., recently announced a marketing deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee allowing the optical and health-care products maker to use Olympic symbols and mascots in advertising for its contact lenses, frames and eye-care products.

Bausch & Lomb, which has operations in the bay area, won't disclose how much it paid to promote its products to more than 100 countries, but it's in the millions of dollars, said Keith Lewis, a spokesman.

It joins Coca-Cola Co., Eastman Kodak, Visa, 3M, Matsushita Electric Co., M&M/Mars, Philips Electronics, Ricoh, Brother, Time/Sports Illustrated and the U.S. Postal Service as Olympic brand sponsors.

The 1992 Winter Olympics will be in Albertville, France, and the Summer Games will be in Barcelona, Spain.


Expert says public must

wake up to deficit threat

Picture a nice, solid, three-bedroom suburban house. A jar of termites is let loose in the house. The damage isn't immediately apparent. But 50 to 100 years later, the house is in rubble.

Now, replace the house with the United States and the termites with the federal deficit.

Get the picture?

That's the kind of television ad campaign economist B.M. Markstein III would like to see to hammer home the message to citizens and politicians that it is time for action on the federal budget deficit. The house/termite analogy is particularly appropriate, Markstein said, because the crisis is not immediate.

"If the house were on fire, we would call the fire department," he said. "Our political system responds well to crisis. ... But it generally performs very poorly when it comes to dealing with long-term problems, especially if addressing those issues requires near-term pain for specific groups with little immediate benefits," said Markstein, who is senior economist at Meridian Bancorp Inc. in Reading, Pa.

It is up to us, said Markstein, to see that the problem is addressed immediately.


Prudential employees

put language skills to work

Milu McNay, a real estate agent with the Belleair office of Prudential Florida Realty, does not have many occasions to speak Quimbundo, a dialect from her native Angola. But McNay is contacted often by foreign investors and home buyers because of her ability to speak several languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German.

"It comes as an incredible tool," she says. "Foreign buyers feel so much more comfortable if they can speak their own language."

McNay is one of more than 500 multilingual sales associates listed in Prudential's recently published Directory of Language Capabilities.

Prudential, seeking a marketing tool, surveyed sales associates in its 63 offices statewide to find out their language skills. The company discovered its agents can speak 41 different languages.

The new directory, which lists the agents and their languages by alphabetical order and according to the county and the language, has been distributed on inquiry to multinational corporations, financial institutions and lawyers who do business in the state.

Prudential said it's too soon to gauge the directory's success, but the company expects it to come in handy.

More foreigners are entering the U.S. market today because of the attractive money exchange rate and the high cost of real estate in Europe, said Robert Kneeley, a spokesman for Prudential. "For them right now, Florida is a good value."


Florida business schools

don't soar with the eagles

You won't find any Florida universities mentioned in Business Week's latest ranking of the top 20 business schools in the country. Northwestern University's business school in Evanston, Ill., topped the list for the second consecutive year, based on a survey of 6,000 business school graduates and 322 corporate recruiters.

Others in the top 10 were University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, University of Chicago, Stanford University, Dartmouth University, University of Michigan, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University and University of California at Los Angeles.

The highest-ranked schools in the Southeast were University of North Carolina (12th), Duke University (13th) and University of Virginia (14th.)