Heiress Abigail Disney went to one of her family’s resorts to see conditions for workers herself and was disgusted by what she saw.
In comments to Yahoo News podcast “Through Her Eyes,” Disney described how she went to Disneyland in California undercover and found that workers at the resort were treated poorly—and underpaid.
“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,'” said Disney.
“I was so livid when I came out of there,” Disney added, “because, you know, my grandfather taught me to revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda.”
In a statement to The Washington Post, The Walt Disney Co. defended its policies.
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. Our 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 heiress told Yahoo that she wrote to company CEO Bob Iger to express her uneasiness over the conditions.
“I wrote Bob Iger a very long email,” said Disney, “and one of the things I said to him was, ‘You know, you’re a great CEO by any measure, perhaps even the greatest CEO in the country right now. You know, your legacy is that you’re a great manager. And if I were you, I would want something better than that. 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.'”
Iger did not reply to the email, Disney said.
Disney has long been a defender of progressive economic policies and a critic of right-wing politics that prioritize the wealthy. In an April opinion piece for the Post, Disney argued that the inequality between worker and executive pay for company workers could easily be fixed.
“There are just over 200,000 employees at Disney,” she wrote. “If management wants to improve life for just the bottom 10 percent of its workers, Disney could probably set aside just half of its executive bonus pool, and it would likely have twice as much as it would need to give that bottom decile a $2,000 bonus.”
So far, the company has not taken her advice.
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