Courtesy of Denis Adriana Macias via Wikimedia Commons

In a time where the job market seems to change daily, it would make sense for companies to hold onto their workers if they are able — especially a business worth approximately $130 billion like the Disney corporation. With an unfathomable amount of wealth, it seems logical that a company that espouses happiness would be more than willing to keep its employees safe during the out of control teacup ride that has been 2020. Unfortunately, it seems they have been doing quite the opposite, furloughing as many as 100,000 workers in April and now laying off 28,000 of those at Disneyland and Disney World. This decision is absolutely appalling, and the Disney corporation has no right to lay off these workers and they will be placing themselves in a great detriment because of these layoffs.

Disney parks have been cash cows since the first one opened in 1955. The franchise has gone from producing animated movies to becoming a multibillion-dollar company that generates more money in a year than most people have seen in a lifetime. Despite the losses it faced in the last financial quarter, Disney still made $11.78 billion in revenue. This absurd amount of money could easily be redirected toward supporting loyal Disney employees, especially considering the CEO receives a comfy salary that is 1,424 times more than the average cast member. To turn away so many employees now after furloughing them for months is unfair when they could afford to cut the salaries of those in higher positions to support the people who make up the backbone of the corporation.

It is especially important to note that as of April 5, Disney reduced salaries of vice president-level executives and above by 20%, senior vice president pay was trimmed by 25% and exec VP-level staff saw a 30% reduction. The CEO of Disney, Bob Chapek, also took a 50% salary cut and Executive Chairman Bob Iger decided to forgo his salary for the year. As of Aug. 23 however, the temporary salary reductions were reportedly restored to pre-COVID levels. Not even weeks later, the announcement came that Disney will be laying off 28,000 employees. This is all to suggest that the extra money that Disney will be saving because of these layoffs will more than likely go to line the pockets of the Disney executives, rather than protecting the company from financial damages caused by COVID.

It is cruel to lay off 28,000 workers who should still be on payroll in our incredibly unstable job market. With a 7.9% unemployment rate in the U.S., the Disney layoff will put more people at the disadvantage of being out of work during the pandemic.

The Disney layoff will ultimately come back to bite them when the time comes for the parks to reopen. There is a significant amount of work that goes into becoming a Disney cast member: a months-long program of Disney College must be completed, and a strict code must be adhered to at all times in order to preserve the Disney magic. Even part-time employees are trained in this way to ensure guest satisfaction at the “Happiest Place On Earth,” and all this skill is not going to be easily replaced. Not only that, but it is highly disrespectful of the corporation to have such high standards on all its employees and then turn around and lay them off in such a desperate time. Disney would not hire untrained employees to fill in the spots left behind by the 28,000 people being laid off; it would need to rehire and retrain new people to compensate. It would make far more sense to hold onto these employees and continue to pay them until the parks can reopen, and then, Disney will not find itself with a potential shortage of trained staff. 

Overall, it is a disgrace that Disney saw any good in laying off so many of its employees when the alternative is clear: keep paying your employees until they can go back to their jobs. Disney can afford to keep these workers on payroll, and in the long run, doing so would save the corporation and its employees so much trouble. A company that still manages to benefit during such an uncertain time has a duty to their workers who help keep the company going. Disney should not have punished their workers for no reason other than to save money; it should, instead, have rewarded them by supporting them in a time when workers need it the most.