Senator Elizabeth Warren took the Walt Disney Company to task today by publicly calling them out and sending a letter to Bob Iger and Bob Chapek:
Here’s what it said:
“Dear Mr. Iger and Mr. Chapek:
I write to express concern about The Walt Disney Company’s (Disney) recent decision to lay off 28,000 workers during an economic recession while reinstating pay rates for highly compensated senior executives. In the years leading up to the crisis, your company prioritized the enrichment of executives and stockholders through hefty compensation packages, and billions of dollars’ worth of dividend payments and stock buybacks, all of which weakened Disney’s financial cushion and ability to retain and pay it’s front-line workers amid the pandemic. While I appreciate that your company has continued to provide health-care benefits to furloughed workers for the past six months, thousands of laid off employees will now have to worry about how to keep food on the table as executives begin receiving hefty paychecks again. I would like the know whether Disney’s financial decisions have impacted the company’s decision to lay off workers and whether your company plans to extend health care or other critical benefits and protections to laid off employees. ”
The letter goes on to give specific examples and discuss the issue with California and point out that a lot of positions were also from the Florida Walt Disney World Resort.
You can see the entire letter HERE.
(She forgot to mention the ridiculously expensive purchase of Fox and arguable over-extension on theme park development.)
Now Disney has responded to the letter saying that it’s full of inaccuracies but only points out the issue with California and doesn’t address what the “inaccuracies” are.
Disney issued the following statement:
“Senator Warren’s misinformed letter contains a number of inaccuracies. We’ve unequivocally demonstrated our ability to operate responsibly with strict health and safety protocols in place at all of our theme parks worldwide, with the exception of Disneyland Resort in California, where the state has prevented us from reopening even though we have reached agreements with unions representing the majority of our Cast Members that would get them back to work.”
But that didn’t address the issues Warren presented to the company. If you go to her letter her office actually provided article citations and dates to provide information as to where her accusations were coming from. Disney just said it was “inaccurate” but didn’t say which parts or why.
It’s all the same things that me and other bloggers have been pointing out for weeks now. They did give out big dividends and they did do stock buybacks. They overspent on Fox. They overspent on park expansions and relied to heavily on their franchises like ‘Star Wars.’ They did reinstate executive pay to the full amounts while keeping employees in furloughed status and announcing the furloughs.
Now that they are restructuring to focus on Disney+ I am expecting more furloughs as they shift their focus.
Hopefully Disney will address the actual “inaccuracies” soon, at least before the November 12th Investor Call.
What do you think? Comment and let us know.