Abigail Disney Goes Off On Disney Furloughs: “What The Actual F–k?????”


Abigail Disney posted a 25-tweet thread ripping the Walt Disney Co.’s plan to furlough 100,000 workers, mostly in its theme park division, in a move she says is about preserving executive bonuses and shareholder dividends.

“What the actual f–k?????” she wondered in one of the initial tweets kicking off the thread, which is pinned to the top of her account. Alluding to an estimate of the shareholder dividend from a recent Financial Times article Disney wrote that $1.5 billion would “pay for three months salary to front line workers. And its going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years.” She described the idea of paying bonuses during the pandemic as “the REAL outrage.”

Abigail Disney is the grand-daughter of Roy O. Disney, who co-founded the company with his younger brother, Walt. A documentary filmmaker, philanthropist and activist, she has been a frequent critic of executive compensation and the treatment of employees at the company.

“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,” Disney tweeted. “I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation. But I feel a thread coming on …”

Disney has been disproportionately ravaged by the virus, which has shut down its theme parks, hotels and cruise ships. No live sports are being played, which has hit ESPN and ABC during a season when they would ordinarily be reaping big ratings from the NBA playoffs. And theatrical moviegoing has ground to a halt.

The amount and timing of Disney’s next semi-annual dividend will be determined by the board and announced in June. The executive compensation committee determines the bonus structure for top executives.

Many of Disney’s tweets reprised her past criticisms of the gap between what top management takes home versus the salaries of low-level employees. As with management teams at other companies, Disney executives agreed to salary reductions, including a complete deferral by Iger. Even so, his total compensation package will “still be 900 times median wage.”

The road ahead for the company will be difficult, Abigail Disney acknowledged.”Disney faces a rough couple of years, to be sure,” she tweeted. “The challenges are existential, even. But that does not constitute permission to continue pillaging and rampaging by management.”

Disney closed with a direct appeal to management. “I don’t have a role at the company, which is fine with me,” she wrote. “I’m just a citizen who cares and I think that makes me free to say what I believe. But I am an heir. And I do carry this name with me everywhere. And I have a conscience which makes it very difficult for me to sit by when I see abuses taking place with that name attached to them.
“This isn’t all that hard. This isn’t all that complicated. Just give up SOME of your already ample compensation, especially this year. Give up, god forbid two or three basis points on the annual return. Analysts will shout and scream and have little temper tantrums. Who cares. You are bigger than they are. And as the biggest, most exceptional, most iconic guy in town, you could CHOOSE TO LEAD. If you do, who knows who would follow you. We have a moment here. A crisis is always an opportunity for change.”

A Disney spokesperson did not immediately return Deadline’s request for comment.

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