Elizabeth Warren has called out Disney for laying off 28,000 workers in favor of protecting its executives and shareholders. Disney, in return, has said that Warren is “misinformed.” How, exactly? It hasn’t said.
In a letter, Warren wrote, “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.”
But the Los Angeles Times reports that Warrens letter contained “a number of inaccuracies,” though it oddly did not specify:
“We’ve unequivocally demonstrated our ability to operate responsibly with strict health and safety protocols in place at all of our theme parks worldwide, with the exception of Disneyland Resort in California, where the State has prevented us from reopening even though we have reached agreements with unions representing the majority of our Cast Members that would get them back to work,” Disney said.
There’s no doubt that Disney’s been dealt a huge blow by the pandemic, between the loss of revenue to its theme parks, docking of cruise ships and the delayed release of its movies. But in spite of all this, Warren accused Disney of giving executives “hefty compensation packages:”
“In the years leading up to this crisis, your company prioritized the enrichment of executives and stockholders through hefty compensation packages, and billions of dollars’ worth of dividend payments and stock buybacks, all of which weakened Disney’s financial cushion and ability to retain and pay its front-line workers amid the pandemic,” Warren wrote.
Disney is hardly the only large corporation shedding its low-paid workforce while executives just get richer. Earlier in the pandemic, the grocery chain Kroger decided to scrap the $2 per hour hazard pay it was giving its workers as CEO Rodney McMullen was given $2.1 million. Ditto MGM Resorts International, which furloughed tens of thousands while simultaneously furnishing its outgoing CEO—who voluntarily left to head Nevada’s covid taskforce—a $32 million exit package.