Walt Disney heiress Abigail Disney did her own rendition of “Undercover Boss” at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where she allegedly discovered it’s not exactly “The Happiest Place on Earth” for employees.
According to Fox Business, Abigail Disney revealed to Yahoo! News that she was “livid” by the working conditions she witnessed at Disneyland
“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,’” Abigail told the outlet.
The heiress launched her investigation after a distressed Disneyland worker contacted her on Facebook. “I was so livid when I came out of there because, you know, my grandfather taught me to revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda,” she said. “Those people are much of the recipe for success.”
Though Disney has no active role in the company her granduncle Walt founded, Disney said CEO Bob Iger needs to take better care of his employees. “Bob needs to understand he’s an employee, just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees,” she said. “And they’re entitled to all the same dignity and human rights that he is.”
A Disney company spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News on Monday that the company, under Iger’s leadership, has made great strides to create a productive working environment for its employees and has made an initial commitment of $150 million to fund its Disney Aspire initiative for the first five years. The program, which Disney plans to continue investing in in the future, is aimed at providing employees the opportunity to pursue higher education.
“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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
“Disney also provides flexible schedules and subsidized childcare to make it easier for employees to take advantage of this opportunity–and we’re proud that more than 40 percent of our 88,000-plus hourly employees have already signed up to participate,” the statement continued. “American workers need meaningful change; they deserve smart policies and practical programs, like Disney Aspire, that empower them to achieve their goals and ensure they are part of the most competitive workforce in the world.”
Abigail Disney’s criticism of Disneyland’s working conditions comes several months after she publicly called out Bob Iger’s “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.”
Iger’s salary is reportedly 1,424 times more than median employee pay.
Her comments followed a speech she gave at a conference hosted by Fast Company magazine, during which she said that Disney employees have had a reduction in benefits and are struggling to make ends meet.
“I think he’s allowing himself to go down a road that is the road everyone is going down,” she said at the conference. “When he got his bonus last year, I did the math, and I figured out that he could have given personally, out of pocket, a 15% raise to everyone who worked at Disneyland, and still walked away with $10 million. So there’s a point at which there’s just too much going around the top of the system into this class of people who — I’m sorry, this is radical — have too much money. There is such a thing.”