The fallout from COVID closures continues unabated.
On Tuesday the Disney corporation announced they would be laying off 28,000 employees, about 67% of whom are part-time employees. Disney’s greatest financial struggle has been in their California theme parks. Nearly every other Disney property in the world has reopened (many with curbed attendance caps). California Governor Gavin Newsom retains one-man control over every aspect of life and work in the state and yet refuses to offer one of the largest and most influential job providers in California any guidelines they can be working toward in order to reopen.
Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, sent an email to Disney employees Tuesday afternoon explaining that with no hope for opening the Anaheim park in sight, some tough changes would have to be made.
I write this note to you today to share some difficult decisions that we have had to make regarding our Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products organization.
Let me start with my belief that the heart and soul of our business is and always will be people. Just like all of you, I love what I do. I also love being surrounded by people who think about their roles as more than jobs, but as opportunities to be a part of something special, something different, and something truly magical.
Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to close our businesses around the world. Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us — both at work and in our daily lives. 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.
As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy. For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company. We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.
As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic.
Thank you for your dedication, patience and understanding during these difficult times. I know that these changes will be challenging. It will take time for all of us to process this information and its impact. We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days. Additionally, today we will begin the process of discussing next steps with unions. We encourage you to visit The Hub or the WDI Homepage for any support you may need.
For those who will be affected by this decision, I want to thank you for all that you have done for our company and our guests. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience, and hope to welcome back Cast Members and employees when we can.
Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
His official press statement directly mentions California as a large cause of the layoffs.
The city of Anaheim is almost completely dependent on the economic production of Disneyland, particularly now that sports stadiums are closed. The closures have decimated the community, yet the Governor has refused to offer any hint as to what they can do to reopen. Disney has not been asking to open, they’ve simply been asking how they can prepare to open, so when the time comes they will be ready.
Is Governor Newsom deliberately crushing the economy of Anaheim? Is it revenge for Orange County’s independent spirit when it comes to lockdowns? Is it an attempt to keep the world’s 5th largest economy depressed through the election? Is it just plain arrogant mean-spiritedness?
“Gruesome Newsom” is certainly earning his nickname these days.