How Disney execs and COVID-19 wrecked the lives of middle-class Disney World workers

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/16/how-disney-execs-and-covid-19-wrecked-the-lives-of-middle-class-disney-world-workers.html

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I’m actually genuinely surprised that anyone in a customer-facing role at any Disney park earned enough to be considered middle class.

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so…
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom?

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Meanwhile, Yertle is still holding up second-round stimulus funds to people like those profiled in the article, whom he and other Republicans no doubt see as “moochers”.

The truly awful missteps mentioned in the article aside, in normal times the Disney parks are known as enlightened employers (albeit by the degraded standards of late-stage capitalist America). Disney takes quality seriously, which is why the company is willing to pay around the median American wage to a restaurant server who’d make minimum wage (or less plus tips) in other circumstances. The Anaheim park employees I’ve met off the clock show an amazing loyalty to the company and dedication to their work.

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Unless I missed it, the article doesn’t describe anyone getting a raise. Is this what you’re referring to?

Still pretty tone-deaf but not quite the same thing as a raise.

I personally know quite a few long-time Disney workers who have lost their jobs in Anaheim and Glendale, and it’s really gut-wrenching to see. The executives may have not always made the best possible decisions for the lower-level workers but with Disneyland resort still closed and probably remaining so until well into next year it’s hard to imagine any way that the company would get through the pandemic without letting a lot of people go. Also, there are a LOT of low-wage non-Disney workers in Anaheim who have lost their jobs as the local hotels, restaurants and related businesses haven’t been able to operate without Disneyland customers. We seriously need the federal boost to unemployment money, so the sooner that Mitch McConnell is the minority leader the better.

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Same. I’ve spent a lot (too much!) time at the parks, and have met or cruised with more than a few Disney employees over the years. The one overriding truth of most Disney cast members is that they believe in the company and the spirit of the parks (as a child growing up in a family-owned carnival midway, this is what draws me there in the first place - a love for the atmosphere and people). I’ve met cast members who volunteer time there when they aren’t working just because they love making people happy. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty. The fact that they had to make these cuts is just devastating, and I hope they can rebound and rehire a lot of these lifetime workers. I mean, how many companies nowadays can even purport to have lifetime workers to lay off?

This cannot be overstated. The cottage industries surrounding Disney are critical to the livelihoods of so many people.

I feel even moreso for the cruise destinations where oftimes the major industry of entire islands is leisure and tourism. They have no help coming, and Cruises are going to be the very last thing to return. So many lives changed indirectly from this pandemic. :frowning:

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When I was at Disneyland in February I learned for the first time that the park has a specific term of art for the non-Disney hotels surrounding it: “Good Neighbor Hotels”. That’s how vital the symbiosis between the local businesses and the park is. This must be absolutely devastating to them as well.

Amen to that. Go Warnock and Ossoff!

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I’ve read that crime has really ramped up in many of the former tourist destination towns to the point that reintroducing tourism (or limited tourism) is going to be challenging as well. It’s a hurdle that’s fixable, but it’ll be yet another hurdle in a time when most people can’t see beyond their nose.

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With the large number of international tourists I know there’s a noticeable number who aren’t familiar (or choose not to participate) in US’ tipping culture. I imagine they would need a higher base salary to compensate.

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