Disneyland Pay Brings Complaint—From a Disney

Member of founding family visits park undercover
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2019 3:54 PM CDT
Disneyland Pay Brings Complaint—From a Disney
Gloria Steinem, left, filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney, center, and Rutgers University professor Suzy Kim appear at a UN event in 2015.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Bob Iger, the chief executive of Walt Disney, was paid $66 million last year. Disneyland employees start at $15 an hour. That bothers Abigail Disney, of the founding family. After a park employee complained to her in a Facebook message, she made an undercover visit to the park, per CNN. Her chats with workers at "The Happiest Place on Earth" left her furious. "Every single one of these people I talked to 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,'" Disney said. That's not the way her grandfather, Disneyland co-founder Roy O. Disney, wanted the theme park to be, she said. "I was so livid when I came out of there because, you know, my grandfather taught me to revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda," she said in an interview on a Yahoo News show. "Those people are much of the recipe for success." So she sent a complaint of her own.

Disney emailed Iger, saying that he's a great CEO and manager. But "if I were you," she wrote, "I would want to be known as the guy who led to a better place, because that is what you have the power to do." She said Iger didn't answer. (She has previously called Iger's pay "insane.") But the company pointed out to CNN that $15 is higher than the federal minimum wage, and that it has committed $150 million to its Disney Aspire program, which pays for employees to earn a college, high school, or vocational degree. "Disney is at the forefront of providing workforce education," the statement said, "which is widely recognized as the best way to create economic opportunity for employees and empower upward mobility." Abigail Disney, who said she owns a few shares in the company but has no voice in operations, said it's a matter of more than money. "Bob needs to understand that he is an employee just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees," she said, "and they're entitled to the same dignity and human rights that he is." (A survey found that most Disneyland employees don't make enough to cover basic living expenses.)

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