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Disney Lays Off 28,000 Workers, 67% Are Part-Time Employees

Sep 30, 2020
Originally published on September 30, 2020 8:10 am

The Walt Disney Company's theme parks, resorts and cruises have been devastated by COVID-19. Tuesday Disney announced it is laying off 28,000 workers from its Parks, Experiences and Products division.

In a letter to employees, Josh D'Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products writes, "We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. And, as a result, today we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried, and hourly roles."

Of the 28,000 employees affected, 67 percent are part-time.

Since April, Disney covered health care costs of furloughed employees. D'Amaro says Disney is, "talking with impacted employees as well as to the unions on next steps."

D'Amaro calls the decision "heartbreaking" but "the only feasible option" due to "the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic."

Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disney and Disney World in Florida are open, with safety protocols in place. Disneyland in Anaheim remains closed. In August, The Walt Disney Company reported a loss of $4.7 billion in its third quarter.

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The Walt Disney Company is laying off 28,000 workers in the U.S. The company said the uncertainty over the pandemic left it with no other choice. Disney theme parks, resorts and cruises, they've all been extremely hard hit. NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It wasn't for lack of trying. When Walt Disney World reopened in July, it made a video explaining safety precautions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: Prior to entering, guests will undergo a temperature screening with no-touch thermometers.

BLAIR: Visitors returned. Theme parks in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong also reopened. But it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the losses. Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., has been closed for more than six months. In August, The Walt Disney Company reported a loss of $4.7 billion in its third quarter. In a letter to employees, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, writes, we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried and hourly roles. Of the 28,000 workers being laid off, 67% are part-time.

MIKE LYSTER: It's very distressing.

BLAIR: Mike Lyster is the spokesperson for the City of Anaheim. He says it's been a crisis for workers, as well as the hotels and restaurants that rely on Disneyland visitors for income.

LYSTER: If you go down Harbor Boulevard today, which is the main thoroughfare in our city where the theme parks are, unfortunately, it feels like a ghost town.

BLAIR: Disney has been paying health care for tens of thousands of furloughed workers since April. In a statement, D'Amaro writes the company is talking with employees, as well as to the unions, on next steps. In response, the Service Trades Council Union says it's disappointed Disney is making the layoffs. The union represents 43,000 Disney employees and says it is negotiating with the company about the news and its impact to its members.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELLIOTT MURPHY SONG, "CREPUSCULE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.