The Walt Disney Company is laying off 28,000 employees from its Parks, Experiences, and Products division due to the impact of COVID-19 on the theme park businesses.
In a statement, division chairman Josh D’ Amaro also partially blamed the ongoing closure of the Disneyland Resort, despite a public campaign pressuring California Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue reopening guidelines for theme parks.
Here is D’Amaro’s full statement:
“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 – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen – we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels, having kept non-working Cast Members on furlough since April, while paying healthcare benefits.
“Approximately 28,000 domestic employees will be affected, of which about 67% are part-time. We are talking with impacted employees as well as to the unions on next steps for union-represented Cast Members. Over the past several months, we’ve been forced to make a number of necessary adjustments to our business, and as difficult as this decision is today, we believe that the steps we are taking will enable us to emerge a more effective and efficient operation when we return to normal. Our Cast Members have always been key to our success, playing a valued and important role in delivering a world-class experience, and we look forward to providing opportunities where we can for them to return.”
D’Amaro did not break down how many workers were losing their jobs at specific resorts.
When Theme Park Tribune asked Gov. Newsom’s office for a comment on the layoffs and Disney’s criticism, the office directed our inquiry to the California Department of Public Health. In a statement, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said:
“The COVID 19 pandemic has impacted the health and livelihoods of too many workers across this country. In California, our number one priority is to lead with public health to slow the spread of the virus to begin reopening our economy and get Californians back to work safely and sustainably. Our Blueprint for a Safer Economy is driven by science to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission low. Without a vaccine it is impossible to eliminate the economic impacts caused by this virus, but by taking a measured data- and science-based approach to phasing in and out transmission prevention protocols, we can minimize the health and economic risks that would be caused by opening and shutting repeatedly. Until there’s a vaccine, the most important things all Californians can do to reduce COVID-19 transmission is masking, keeping physical distance and avoiding mixing when possible.”
Maria Hernandez, spokesperson for Unite Here Local 11, which represents employees at the Disneyland Resort’s hotels, told Theme Park Tribune that it expects 950 of its 3,000 members to be laid off.
“The Union will engage in effects bargaining with the company over issues including job security and healthcare coverage,” Hernandez said.
In Florida, union leaders did not specify how many of their members were affected.
“We have begun negotiations with the Company about this news and its impact to Union members,” Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here Local 362 in Florida, said in a statement on behalf of the Service Trades Council Union, which represents 43,000 workers at Disney World. “How many full-time and part-time Cast Members will be affected, how long health insurance and recall rights will continue and many other issues crucial to Cast Members are on the table. As soon as more information becomes available, we will notify our members.”
On Wednesday, Disney notified the state of Florida that 6,700 non-union employees at Disney World would be laid off in December. The notice was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated after publication on Sept. 29, 2020 with comments from Disney World and Disneyland unions and a statement from California’s health secretary. It was further updated on Sept. 30 with the Orlando Sentinel’s reporting on non-union layoffs at Disney World.
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