Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Not So Magical: Disney Lays Off 28,000 Theme Park Workers

On September 29, Disney, a billion-dollar company, announced that it was going to lay off up to 28,000 of its theme park work force in the U.S. amidst the pandemic and economic crisis. The part-time, precarious positions will be most impacted.

Carmin Maffea

October 6, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Disney castle at night
Photo by: Mark Willard/Disney

On Tuesday, September 29, Disney announced that 28,000 workers in the Parks, Experiences, and Products unit will be laid off. Workers from both the California and Florida locations of Disney’s theme parks will lose their jobs, 67 percent of which are part-time employees. Josh D’Amaro, the head of Disney’s parks division, said that the company had to make “difficult decisions,” and blamed California’s unwillingness to reopen theme parks. Workers need to collectively fight against these working-class layoffs, and against billion-dollar companies like Disney which put profits over people. 

The entertainment industry, especially theme parks like Disney World, have been greatly impacted by social distancing measures implemented during the pandemic. Additionally, Disney World relies heavily on tourism, which has plummeted as a result of travel restrictions. The company has therefore not garnered the vast profits this year that they usually expect from their theme parks. Instead of downsizing on other expenses such as the salaries of their highest paid officials, or allocating fewer hours but maintaining or increasing wages for workers, exploitative companies like Disney have simply thrown their already precarious workers out on the street. 

Disney made $4 billion in profit in 2019 alone. How could a company make fortunes that are unfathomable to anyone reading this, yet argue the need to downsize the workforce that created these profits in the first place? 

The Executive Chairman of Disney, Bob Iger, earlier this year decided to “forgo” his $3 million dollar salary and take a 50 percent cut “to shoulder the burden” the company is facing. However, what does this actually mean? Executives like Bob Iger make far more from Disney than their base salaries. Iger makes $48 million from bonuses and stock options. Therefore, when executives take a 50 percent cut in salary, as Iger did, they are actually only giving away around 2 percent of their actual compensation while making it seem as if they are giving up a lot. Executives can take voluntary pay cuts that still keep their annual compensation in the millions, while part time workers get the door and the terrifying experience of unemployment during an economic crisis and pandemic. Unemployment for these workers can lead to lost health insurance, financial ruin, and even eviction. 

Disney is a monstrously rich company that viciously exploits its workers through poor working conditions and low pay. Cast members are on call 365 days a year and other workers are required to work whenever and as long as the company demands. Disney workers often work up to 80 hours a week. Only recently, after a long-fought victory, have Disney workers in California received a $15 an hour minimum wage; workers in Florida will not see this wage increase until 2021. Meanwhile, workers are having trouble affording homes that they need today, not by 2021, and the longer the wages take to rise, the less significant the wage increase becomes due to inflation.  

Now, as is tragically normal under capitalism, this company is throwing that exploited workforce into the snake pit of further poverty and unemployment, during a pandemic, all because these workers’ meager wages impact the company’s profits.

During the pandemic, proletarization and precarity have increased as workers of all sectors throughout the world get furloughed or laid off, face unsafe and potentially fatal working conditions, or have their wages and benefits slashed. With this, both the employed and unemployed need to join to form organizations and councils to organize actions against austerity and unemployment.

Workers must come together, and those with the more secure positions need to fight for not only their own job security and control over their workplace, but for part-time and precarious workers to find that security and control as well. The rank and file of Disney who is represented by unions such as Unite Here Local 362 and 737 must pressure their unions to take more aggressive positions — positions that end precaritization, win greater benefits and pay, and grant the workers more autonomy to make decisions over the workplaces that they run and that the company executives do not. 

Finally, the entire working class needs to collectively fight for a general quarantine wage, higher employment, and against lay offs for the class as a whole. Job sites that are closed currently cannot withhold their labor power to make demands. Therefore, it is up to workers who can withhold their labor to fight not just for their own sectors but for the class as a whole. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Carmin Maffea

Carmin is a revolutionary socialist from New York.

United States

“It Feels Like Everything in the Hospital Is Breaking Down”: Interview with a Medical Resident in the Bronx

A medical resident in the Bronx spoke with Left Voice about how the global pandemic exposed long-standing issues in the U.S. healthcare system, and why healthcare workers must support each other.

Left Voice

January 19, 2022

New York’s Eviction Moratorium Ends Today. We Demand Free Public Housing For All

New York’s eviction moratorium expires today, and hundreds of thousands of households across the state are at risk of eviction. We cannot turn a blind eye to a single eviction, and we must demand rent cancellation and free public housing for all.

Emma Lee

January 15, 2022
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, US on Jan 11, 2022

Jim Crow Joe’s Voting Rights Speech Made a Mockery of the Civil Rights Movement

Joe Biden cynically spoke out in favor of voting rights, pretending to have been an activist in the civil rights movement. But for all his talk about expanding democracy, Biden serves, strengthens, legitimizes, and protects the racist, undemocratic system under which we live.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

January 14, 2022

Shut Down Guantanamo Bay

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay Prison. Its continued operation shows that the “War on Terror” has not ended.

Tristan Taylor

January 12, 2022

MOST RECENT

Woman waves chilean flag in front of smoke

From Chile to Greece: Neoreformist Government and Revolutionary Opposition

Chile’s new president, Gabriel Boric, has promised serious changes, but his reformist program is guaranteed to disappoint the masses. There are important similarities between his government and that of Syriza in Greece from 2015 to 2019. For an internationalist discussion, Fabián Puelma, a revolutionary socialist from Chile, spoke at a meeting of a Trotskyist organization in Greece.

Fabián Puelma

January 18, 2022

“I Am A Man”: MLK and the Memphis Sanitation Strike

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, TN. He was there supporting striking sanitation workers.

Madeleine Freeman

January 17, 2022
Students hold sign that reads "Safe schools should not be a debate."

“I Want to Thank the Staff That Held the Line”: Interview with a Chicago Teacher

Earlier this month, teachers in Chicago voted to resume remote learning rather than return to unsafe working conditions. In response, Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot locked the teachers out of their classes and threatened to stop paying them. After a few days, the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates voted to suspend the teachers’ action and called them to in person classes. We spoke to a Chicago teacher about this struggle and what it means for educators across the country.

Left Voice

January 17, 2022

Eleanor Marx: A Punk in the 19th Century

Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx and herself a socialist activist, was born on this day in 1855. A citizen of the world, she resonated with Shelley and Ibsen and participated in the main theoretical and political debates of her time.

Celeste Murillo

January 16, 2022