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Abigail Disney Criticizes Company for Suspending Pay to Nearly Half of Workforce

Abigail Disney argued that financial pressures do not "constitute permission to continue pillaging and rampaging by management.”

Abigail Disney

Abigail Disney at the 2018 Women’s Media Awards

Amy Sussman/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

The Walt Disney Studios’ decision to stop paying over 100,000 of its employees while protecting its executives’ bonuses drew the ire of heiress Abigail Disney, who criticized the company in a series of tweets Tuesday.

Ms. Disney’s Twitter thread was inspired by a recent Financial Times article that noted Disney will stop paying 100,000 employees to help the company cut costs due to public health-related financial pressures. The publication reported the pay suspensions, which will impact nearly half of the company’s workforce, will save Disney up to $500 million per month.

Though Disney is one of many companies to enact similar measures during the pandemic, Ms. Disney, who does not have a position in the company, took issue with Disney for protecting its executive bonuses and shareholder dividends, which typically amount to semi-annual payments of $1.5 billion.

“The real outrage is, of course, those bonuses. All $1.5 billion of them,” Disney wrote on Twitter. “That’d pay for three months’ salary to front line workers. And it’s going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years.”

Disney has not disclosed its dividend plans for 2020. Company spokespersons did not return a request for comment regarding Ms. Disney’s Twitter thread.

Ms. Disney has long been outspoken about Disney’s treatment of its workers and executives who make exponentially more money than their employees. She previously referred to Disney chairman Bob Iger’s $65.6 million 2018 salary — which was 1,424 times the salary of the median Disney employee — as “insane.”

Though Iger announced he and other company executives would begin taking salary cuts in late March, Ms. Disney considered it to be a publicity move in her Twitter thread and noted that Disney executives’ salary is “only a drop in the bucket” for them, compared to the rest of their compensation packages.

Disney has been hit especially by the global health crisis, which has forced the company to close its theme parks, resorts, and cruise lines indefinitely. Like most other entertainment conglomerates, Disney has also halted production on its various films and television series, including key upcoming Disney+ titles such as “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “WandaVision.” The company’s stock began to sharply decline in late February and has yet to recover.

Ms. Disney noted the pandemic was causing particular challenges for the company but argued the financial pressures should not allow the House of Mouse to halt its employee payments while it was still protecting its executives’ bonuses.

“This company must do better,” Ms. Disney wrote on Twitter. “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.”

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