The Walt Disney Company has released a statement through a spokesperson regarding recent comments made by Walt Disney’s grandniece Abigail Disney.
What Has Happened:
- Abigail Disney commented about compensation during an interview on Yahoo’s “Through Her Eyes” show which is hosted by human rights activist Zainab Salbi and explores contemporary news issues from a female perspective.
- Disney said, “Bob needs to understand he's an employee, just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees. And they're entitled to all the same dignity and human rights that he is.”
- She says she went to Disneyland after receiving a Facebook message from a cast member regarding their situation.
- She then said she visited Disneyland and spoke to several cast members about their situations and that they expressed their frustrations regarding their financial situation.
- Disney says that she wrote an email to Bob Iger expressing her concerns, but had not received a response.
- Regarding concerns with depictions of race in Dumbo and Song of the South, Disney said, “Sadly, it happens to be the case that there are very nice people who are also racists.”
- Abigail Disney has no role within The Walt Disney Company.
Here is Disney’s statement regarding Abigail Disney’s interview:
“We generally avoid commenting on such baseless reports like this, but this one is particularly egregious and we won’t let this stand.
We strongly disagree with this characterization of our employees and their experience at Disney. This widely reported stunt is a gross and unfair exaggeration of the facts that is not only a misrepresentation, but also an insult to the thousands of employees who are part of the Disney community. We continually strive to enhance the employment experience of our more than 200,000 employees through a variety of benefits and programs that provide them opportunity, mobility and well-being.
At our parks in Orlando and Anaheim, The Walt Disney Company currently pays its hourly workers an average of $19.50 an hour, significantly above the federal minimum wage. But we understand the challenges workers and families face in 2019 are complex and go beyond the paycheck. That’s why we provide a wide range of benefits and initiatives to improve our employees’ lives at and outside of work: from subsidized childcare to generous leave policies, from convenient access to pharmacies and clinics to free college degrees and vocational training programs for hourly employees.
We recognize the economic challenges facing all working families. And we continually meet with our employees in the process of developing even stronger programs. Still, we’re proud of the work we’ve done to improve the lives of our employees, and of the more than 45,000 jobs we’ve added in the United States since 2005. The men and women who make Disney parks such a special experience for millions of people are dedicated, hardworking and proud, and we will continue to listen to, empower and reward them. That’s what this company has done throughout its history and will continue to do in the future.”
Regarding the Walt Disney Company Statement:
- As noted in the statement, Disney has rolled out initiatives and assistance for Cast Members including subsidized childcare that was announced earlier this year, and their Aspire program that covers the cost of tuition at several colleges allowing employees to earn Associates and Bachelors degrees at little cost to them.
- These programs came after the company gained criticism from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to local figures on the Anaheim City Council.