Abigail Disney Slams Walt Disney Co. for Protecting Dividends While Furloughing 100,000

Abigail Disney - H 2016
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The Disney heir said the conglomerate "must do better," claiming that the $1.5 billion could pay for three months' salary to its frontline workers.

Filmmaker and activist Abigail Disney — granddaughter of Walt Disney. Co. co-founder Roy Disney — has launched a fierce attack on the Hollywood giant for protecting dividends while furloughing more than 100,000 workers across its theme parks.

Responding on Twitter to news of the furloughs, the Disney heir said that $1.5 billion — which is the estimated cost of Disney's prior semi-annual dividends — would "pay for three months' salary to front line workers," adding that it was instead going to "people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years." The studio hasn't yet announced its dividends for 2020. 

Disney said: "Dividends aren't all bad, given the number of fixed income folks who rely on them. But still 80 percent of shares are owned by the wealthiest 10 percent. So that excuse only goes so far."

While the studio's top executives have made salary sacrifices amid the COVID-19 crisis, with executive chairman Bob Iger giving up the remainder of his $3 million salary for 2020 and new CEO Bob Chapek set to forgo half his $2.5 million base salary, Abigail Disney said that salary was a "drop in the bucket to these guys," claiming that the "real payday is in the rest of the package."

Disney referenced a quote by Chapek, who said, "Our ability to do good in the world starts with our cast members, who create magic every day. Our commitment to them will always be our top priority."

"If even a whiff of this is sincere, none of this compensation bullshit is possible," she said. "This company must do better. Disney faces a rough couple of years, to be sure. The challenges are existential, even. But that does not constitute permission to continue pillaging and rampaging by management."

The Hollywood Reporter understands that around 90 percent of CEO pay is performance-based.

The latest comments are the first time Abigail Disney has attacked the pay structure at Disney after last year describing Iger's $65.6 million compensation for fiscal year 2018, up 80 percent from 2017, as "insane," pointing out that he could have personally given everyone who worked at Disneyland a 15 percent raise and "still walked away with $10 million."