About 6,700 Walt Disney World non-union employees are losing their jobs because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to an alert the Walt Disney Co. sent to the state.
The notice is the first indication of how many Orlando employees are part of the massive layoffs the company announced Tuesday after the market closed. The layoffs will begin Dec. 4.
It’s possibly only the start of layoffs as the company is beginning to negotiate cuts with its unions that represent Equity Disney performers, hotel housekeepers, ride attendants and others.
In all, Disney plans to lay off in a total of 28,000 U.S. employees in a business division that includes theme parks, Imagineering and Disney Cruise Line.
“Due to the continuing business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce,” wrote Jim Bowden, Disney Vice President of employee relations, in a letter to the state that did not break down which positions would be affected.
On Tuesday, Josh D’Amaro, the chief of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, disclosed that about 67% of the 28,000 positions are hourly part-time employees, although the cuts were widespread to include full-timers and executives as well.
“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,” D’Amaro wrote in a letter to employees Tuesday.
The cuts come as Disneyland remains closed and attendance is lower at the Walt Disney World parks, which reopened in mid-July during the pandemic.
D’Amaro blamed some of the layoffs on California’s pandemic restrictions, which he said has forced the company to keep Disneyland closed. Disney World has been open with limited crowds since mid-July.
On March 30, executive chairman Bob Iger agreed to forgo his salary while CEO Bob Chapek accepted a 50% pay cut as the theme parks shut down and thousands of employees were furloughed.
Disney disclosed the executive pay cuts were “to better enable the Company to weather the extraordinary business challenges occasioned by the current national health crisis.”
Iger’s base pay is $3 million and Chapek’s is $2.5 million, although they also receive bonuses and stock options.
Disney did not respond immediately to an Orlando Sentinel request on the status of the executives’ pay.
Disney paid out $1.6 billion in dividends to shareholders earlier this year before temporarily suspending additional dividends.
CFO Christine McCarthy said the board will decide in November or December whether the company resumes dividends.
“We’ll take the full financial picture into consideration,” she said during an August earnings call.