Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders has officially declared war on the Walt Disney Company over the "living wage," and Disney isn't taking it lying down.
The Vermont senator has inserted himself into the battle between Disney and the City of Anaheim over wages and taxes as part of his broader attempt to promote the radical progressive agenda. Sanders held a rally at Disneyland back in June to try to drum up pressure on the entertainment giant, and on Thursday, when Disney turned down the city's offer of hundreds of millions in tax breaks and subsidies in a "last ditch effort" to avoid being forced to pay a living wage to all of its thousands of workers, Sanders pounced.
"Disney is so nervous that the living wage ballot initiative in Anaheim is going to pass, it would rather end some of the corporate welfare it receives from local taxpayers than pay all 30,000 of its workers decent wages," Sanders told The Guardian Thursday. It's time for Disney to "get off of welfare and pay all of its workers a living wage," he declared.
Disney wasn't so happy with the Vermont senator's meddling in a California affair.
"Mr. Sanders continues to distort facts to grab headlines," Disney spokeswoman Liz Jaeger told the Guardian Thursday. "[Sanders] should focus on his own state of Vermont, where the minimum wage is $10.50/hour."
So what is Sanders so worked up about? Disney decided not to accept massive subsidies and tax breaks from Anaheim in what critics say is the company's attempt to avoid paying the progressive-prescribed minimum wage should the city pass a living wage ordinance in November.
"The ordinance, applicable to any large company receiving municipal tax breaks, would require Disneyland and the neighboring Disney California Adventure to pay all 30,000 employees at least $15 an hour, rising to $18 an hour by 2022 and keeping pace with inflation thereafter," The Guardian reports.
Disney has already agreed to pay roughly a third of its employees the $15 minimum wage and is currently in talks with the union about raising the wages of another third of its employees, but that's not good enough for Sanders and Co. The Guardian notes that local pressure on the company has likely been impacted by the "liberal" leanings of the increasingly diverse city.
Anaheim's current minimum wage is $11/hour.