Disney heir slams company for protecting bonuses amid staff furloughs

Walt Disney Co. heir Abigail Disney launches attack on the Hollywood giant as it protects $1.5 BILLION in executive bonuses and dividends while furloughing 100,000 employees

  • Abigail Disney accused the company of ‘pillaging and rampaging’ staff amid the coronavirus pandemic
  • The company stopped paying 100,000 employees this week as parks and hotels around the world remain closed 
  • The heiress criticized the decision as she claims the company are protecting over $1.5billion in executive bonuses and dividends 
  • The heiress argued that this money could pay for three months’ salary to its frontline workers 
  • The Disney board has yet to comment on its 2020 dividend plan 
  • The activist herself has a net worth of $120million 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Disney heir Abigail Disney has slammed the Hollywood giant for furloughing more than 100,000 workers while protecting executive bonuses and dividends worth more than $1.5billion.

The Emmy award-winning film-maker and millionaire criticized Walt Disney Co. Tuesday in an extensive Twitter thread, accusing them of ‘terrible management’ and saying they ‘must do better’.

The Disney board is yet to comment on its 2020 dividend plan but in recent years has made semi-annual payments typically worth $1.5bn, which would be due in July. 

The heiress, 60, argued that this money could pay for three months’ salary to its frontline workers now feeling the financial impact of the pandemic. 

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of Walt Disney. Co. co-founder Roy Disney but does not hold a role in the company. 

Abigail Disney has accused Walt Disney Co. of protecting executive bonuses and dividends worth more than $1.5billion that could be used to pay 100,000 furloughed staff 

The Disney heir launched a fiery Twitter thread on Tuesday in which she condemned the compensation received by company executives and said the company ‘must do better’

Disney parks around the world remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and the company is estimated to have lost $500million last month before staff were furloughed

Walt Disney Corporation stopped paying 100,000 operational employees this week after its parks and hotels around the world shut down five weeks ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Employees will still receive health insurance from Disney but have been added to the millions more filing for unemployment across the United States.

The move from the world’s biggest entertainment company – which has parks in the US, France, China, Hong Kong and Japan – affects half its workforce and now staff in the likes of California and Florida will rely on taxpayer dollars to see them through.

‘With labor accounting for approximately 45 per cent of operating expenses and 33 per cent of total expenses, we assume notable savings,’ JPMorgan’s Alexia Quadrani, who estimated a saving of $500million per month, told the Financial Times.

The company was said to have lost $500million last month after closures. 

Disney voiced her opinion about the decision to furlough staff in a fiery 25-tweet thread posted Tuesday after saying she had been ‘holding her tongue’.  

While no decision on Disney’s dividend has yet been announced, she criticized a move to pay out in July, claiming that ‘80% of shares are owned by the wealthiest 10%’ and the money would be received by people who have ‘already been collecting egregious bonuses for years’.

The activist also commented on the announcement in March that top Disney executives were forgoing their salary in light of the current crisis.

Former chief executive Bob Iger gave up the remainder of his $3million salary for this year and his replacement Bob Chapek said he’d only take half of his $2.5million base salary, as a show of solidarity.

Bonuses these executives could received were highlighted, however, as they greatly exceed their salaries.

Executive bonus schemes are also in place and are believed to be worth about 900 times the average $52,000 salary. CEO Bob Chapek’s (left) bonus is expected to be about 300 percent of his salary. Chairman Bob Iger (right) got $65.6million in incentives in 2018

Disney hit out at the company’s decision to pay out on dividends. The company has not commented on the plan but has recently made semi-annual payments typically worth $1.5bn

Executive bonus schemes are in place at the company and are believed to be worth about 900 times the average $52,000 salary. Iger got $65.6million in incentives in 2018 and $46million in 2019.

Chapek’s bonus is expected to be about 300 percent of his salary. In addition, he could bring home ‘not less than $15 million’ in long-term incentives.

The 69-year-old is said to have raked in $47.5 million last year.

‘This is why I was quiet in March when executives at the company made a big pr push to call attention to the fact that they were giving up a portion of their salaries for the year,’ Disney wrote.

‘I told people to wait until we heard about the rest of the compensation package, since salary is a drop in the bucket to these guys.

‘Iger’s comp will still be 900 times median wage,’ she added, claiming that Disney front line workers fought for years for a $15 an hour minimum pay which would leave them with $31,200 a year if they worked full time.

‘So Iger’s compensation for THIS YEAR will amount to 1,500x their pay. Chapek’s, if he gets the full amount, is 300% of his 3 million base pay, or $9MM. 288x the front liners,’ she added, before accusing them of lacking empathy for their employees.

Within the thread, Abigal Disney cited a quote by Chapek, who said, ‘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’.

‘If even a whiff of this is sincere, none of this compensation bullshit is possible,’ Disney argued. 

Disney’s Twitter thread criticized the bonuses received by executives. The activist commented on the announcement in March that top Disney executives were forgoing their salary in light of the current crisis but highlighted that a bonus system was still in place in the company

The filmmaker claimed that executives would still receive millions in bonuses this year

‘This company must do better. Disney faces a rough couple of years, to be sure. The challenges are existential, even. But that does not constitute permission to continue pillaging and rampaging by management.’

She finished her criticism by calling on the company ‘to lead’, stating they were ‘the biggest, most exceptional, most iconic guy in town’ and should take ‘an opportunity to change’.

Disney is also understood be losing up to $30million each day and has recently borrowed $6 billion to see it through the uncertain period.

But capital market company analyst, Rich Greenfield, said: ‘They could afford [not furloughing staff].’

Many of the unpaid parks and hotel staff join the estimated 22 million Americans thrown out of work in four weeks – the worst stretch of US job losses on record.

From Sunday employees were encouraged to make use of the state payouts which vary around the US. In Florida only $275 per week is available for three months.

Disney employs 70,000 performers in Orlando.

The $2trillion stimulus package could payout $600 per week for other individuals depending on the state.

This is not the first time that Disney, who herself has a net worth of $120million, has hit out at Disney CEO Iger. 

Previous reports said Disney lost $500million last month since closing five weeks ago. An employee empties a garbage can in Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California

Disney operates cruise ships and a streaming service among other products but cast members at the parks have been labelled their ‘top priority’ in the past. The company has now placed these cast member on furlough and they have joined the millions claiming unemployment

In April 2019, again in a series of tweets, she condemned the compensation he received. 

Diseny defended the compensation and said it has made ‘historic investments’ in its workers’ pay and benefits.  

Iger announced he was stepping down as Disney CEO on February 25, with parks chairman Bob Chapek named his successor.

But he has retaken the helm to navigate the coronavirus crisis which is estimated to be costing $30 million each day.

The 69-year-old who raked in $47.5 million last year, is looking to build on the tremendous success of Disney’s new streaming service as it postpones the release of forthcoming blockbusters like its Mulan remake.   


 The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on our world with untold suffering and loss, and has required all of us to make sacrifices. 

Over the last few weeks, mandatory decrees from government officials have shut down a majority of our businesses. 

Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we’ve committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation.

However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we’re forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time. 

The furlough process will begin on April 19, and all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period. 

They will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney, and those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program.

Additionally, employees with available paid time off can elect to use some or all of it at the start of the furlough period and, once furloughed, they are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.



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