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Disney Heiress Blasts Company Allegedly Dishing Out Executive Bonuses While Cutting Pay

By  Paul Bois
Abigail Disney, president and chief executive officer of Fork Films, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The conference brings together leaders in business, government, technology, philanthropy, academia, and the media to discuss actionable and collaborative solutions to some of the most important questions of our time.
Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Progressive activist and heiress Abigail Disney, daughter of Roy Disney and grand-niece of Walt Disney, slammed the company for dishing out executive bonuses and protecting dividends for more than $1.5 billion while cutting employee pay and furloughing others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a lengthy Twitter post on Tuesday, Abigail Disney shared an article from the Financial Times reporting that the company stopped paying 100,000 workers to save $500 million a month. She mostly took issue with executives retaining bonuses during the pandemic.

“I’ve been holding my tongue on the theory that a pandemic is no time to be calling people out on anything other than failing us in a public health sense. I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation,” she began.

“WHAT THE ACTUAL F***????? Look, dividends aren’t ALL bad, given the number of fixed income folks who rely on them,” she continued. “But still 80% of shares are owned by the wealthiest 10%. So that excuse only goes so far. But the REAL outrage is, of course, those bonuses. All 1.5 billion of them. 1.5 BILLION. That’d pay for three months’ salary to front line workers. And it’s going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years.”

According to the Financial Times, the company “protected incentive schemes, which account for most of the executives’ remuneration,” with the latest package being “more than 900 times that of the median Disney worker’s earnings, which stands at about $52,000.”

Abigail Disney called on the company to “do better” even in the face of what is arguably an “existential” threat to their business. Responding to those who would say that the bonus structure was to incentivize good management, Abigail said that the company’s current crisis is largely due to mismanagement over the past few years.

“If a bonus reflects performance, we might want to claw back some of those millions given how they’ve managed cash,” she said. “Between March 31, 2018 and June 30 of 2019, the company made $11.5 billion of stock buybacks. ELEVEN. POINT. FIVE. BILLION. Now no one could have foreseen this crisis. That is an absolutely fair thing to say.”

“But ANYONE, could have anticipated SOME crisis,” she continued. “That’s one of the things responsible managers do. And good, solid, competent management is why they get the ‘big bucks’ we are told. But those buybacks are beginning to look pretty self-indulgent right now.”

Abigail Disney has been critical of the company’s alleged mismanagement of labor in the past. Last July, after going undercover at Disney theme parks, she ripped the company for not paying its workers enough. Prior to that, she publicly scolded Disney CEO Bob Iger for taking an “insane” salary.

“Let me very clear. I like Bob Iger. I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself,” Abigail said in a viral Twitter thread. “Other than owning shares (not that many) I have no more say in what happens there than anyone else. But by any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane.”

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