As many Disney fans know, Abigail Disney made strong claims against Disneyland and The Walt Disney Company earlier this week. Yesterday, we shared Disneyland’s response to her claims referring to Disneyland employees facing poor working conditions. Today, The Walt Disney Company has also issued a statement against Abigail’s accusations of the company, which they’re calling “baseless claims.” Referring in part to Abigail Disney’s over the top quote:
“Every single one of these people I talked to (emphasis added) were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage’”
On behalf of both Disney Parks, The Walt Disney Company provided this statement to Inside the Magic:
“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 wewill 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.”
Previously, the New York Times and Inside the Magic shared this statement from The Walt Disney Company on behalf of Disneyland:
Disneyland employs an estimated 30,000 cast members and pays a starting hourly wage of $15, which is higher than the California minimum wage requirements of $12 an hour. Full-time employees are also offered low-cost health care benefits and child care assistance, a spokesperson confirmed to Fox News.
“Disney is at the forefront of providing workforce education, which is widely recognized as the best way to create economic opportunity for employees and empower upward mobility,” a spokesperson for the Walk Disney Company said in a statement. “The Disney Aspire initiative is the most comprehensive employee education program in the country, covering 100 percent of all tuition costs, books and fees so our hourly workers can pursue higher education free of charge, and graduate free of debt.”
The statement adds that Disney made a commitment of $150 million to fund the Disney Aspire initiative for the first five years, with plans to continue to make future investments.
Disney also confirmed that employees have access to subsidized child care and flexible schedules if they plan to participate in the initiative.
“American workers need meaningful change; they deserve smart policies and practical programs, like Disney Aspire, that empower them to achieve their goals and ensure they are part of the most competitive workforce in the world.”
As evidenced by the comments on both sides of the issue in our prior reports, there are cast members who want to see even more done to improve pay and benefits for those who work at the Disney Parks. Although, it seems extremely unlikely that “every cast member” spoke against the company. We know of many people who feel fortunate to work for the Disney Parks and there is no doubt they each would like to earn more. However, the same could be said of workers at many companies.