Abigail Disney Has Strong Words for the Walt Disney Co.

Published on April 23, 2020

Abigail Disney has never shied away from voicing her criticisms of Disney. She’s been the voice of sorts for the Disney family, calling out the pay disparity between park employees and executives often. She’s the grandfather of Roy O. Disney, who co-founder Disney with his brother, the man we all know named Walt. Unlike the executives at Disney, Abigail Disney likes to look out for the park employees. Following the furlough of 100,000 employees, Abigail is rightly calling out the powerful folks at The Walt Disney Co. 

The Problem 

Those 100,000 workers mostly work in the park division. They get paid and treated the worst by Disney, no question, and need the money now more than ever. Disney could afford to keep helping them, but instead, they’re looking out for their executives. The Financial Times reported Disney is saving $1.5 billion for bonuses later this year for executives and shareholder dividends, already rich and safe and sound during these uncertain times. The $1.5 billion going to the richest of the rich at Disney could’ve kept those 100,000 employees paid and safe for three months. Like Disney wrote, the money could “pay for three months salary to front line workers, and it’s going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years.”

Abigail’s Response 

“I’ve been holding my tongue on the theory that a pandemic is no time to be calling people out on anything other than failing us in a public health sense,” Disney wrote on Twitter. “I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation. But I feel a thread coming on …” Disney went on for over 20 tweets. While Disney is hurting from the closure of parks, cruises, and sports, keep in mind former CEO Bob Iger’s compensation package will still be “900 times median wage of a park employee.”

Closing Statement 

Here was Abigail Disney’s closing message on the matter: 

I don’t have a role at the company, which is fine with me. I’m just a citizen who cares and I think that makes me free to say what I believe. But I am an heir. And I do carry this name with me everywhere. And I have a conscience which makes it very difficult for me to sit by when I see abuses taking place with that name attached to them.

This isn’t all that hard. This isn’t all that complicated. Just give up SOME of your already ample compensation, especially this year. Give up, god forbid two or three basis points on the annual return. Analysts will shout and scream and have little temper tantrums. Who cares. You are bigger than they are. And as the biggest, most exceptional, most iconic guy in town, you could CHOOSE TO LEAD. If you do, who knows who would follow you. We have a moment here. A crisis is always an opportunity for change.”

Disney’s No Comment

Disney has no response to the story. That’s often the case for the company. Whenever a controversy comes up, they remain silent. Bob Iger does the same. He was asked about the human rights issues in China and said nothing. It’s all business to Disney, not doing the right thing. The silent response on their part is clever, of course, since another story eventually comes out that gets people angry all over again. Eventually, people stop talking about Disney’s shameful treatment of their park employees, move on to the next disappointing story in the news, and ultimately return to the Disney conversation whenever they do something greedy again. Their movies, parks, and merchandise often thrive as their employees suffer from disgusting wages and treatment. Disney has a family-friendly image but doesn’t believe in treating their employees at all like family. It’s a shame. Business is business, but when your business is Disney, come on.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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