Back on the 13th of October, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter addressed to both Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Robert Iger and Chief Executive Officer, Bob Chapek.
In the letter, Warren expressed her concerns regarding the company’s decision to lay off 28,000 of its cast members during an economic recession while reinstating salaries of their senior executives that had originally been reduced back in March of this year. The salaries were reinstated in August according to a report from Deadline.
Warren went on to criticize Disney by saying that the “company prioritized the enrichment of executives and stockholders through hefty compensation packages, and billions of dollars’ worth of dividend payments and stock buybacks,” weakening their ability to retain their front-line cast members.
She then stated, “while your company has blamed your decision to lay off thousands of workers on California public health measures, which were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, nearly 6,400 of the employees you laid off are actually in Florida. And just last week, another 8,857 part-time employees were laid off, also in Florida.”
She also accused Disney of making “short-sited business decisions” such as, “spending billions of dollars to repurchase its own shares over the last decade and showering its top company executives with over-the-top compensation packages and salaries.”
The letter concluded with a request for additional information in the form of seven pointed questions, but not before reiterating Chapek’s recent statement, “Our ability to do good in the world starts with our cast members…who create magic every day. Our commitment to them will always be our top priority.” In response to his statement, Warren said, “It appears that – prior to, and during the pandemic – Disney took good care of its top executives and shareholders – and now is hanging its front-line workers out to dry.”
You can read her letter in its entirety HERE.
Earlier this week, according to CNN, Chapek responded to the Senator in his own letter stating that the senator’s “indictment that our past actions somehow weakened our financial cushion and our ability to retain and pay workers amid the pandemic is ill-considered and misleading.”
“As you are well aware, this unprecedented crisis has had a devastating impact on companies nationwide, and businesses large and small have had to take the difficult steps required to weather the impact,” he added.
In a statement on Wednesday, Warren responded: “Disney won’t answer my questions because it has no good answers. The company said it was simply unfeasible to keep paying workers yet had no explanation for how it was feasible to restore senior executive pay.”
This story will be updated if/when Disney responds again.