Disney has furloughed 100,000 theme park and hotel workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The move will save Disney about $500 million a month in salaries as it tries to ride out the crisis.
Workers will be able to keep their medical, dental and life insurance benefits for the length of the furlough period, or up to a year. Seniority and wage rates will remain unchanged for the workers whose furloughs start April 19, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council, the coalition of unions representing the Disney World workers.
The cutbacks affect nearly half of the company’s total workforce. Disney’s also asked its senior executives to accept a pay cut, with no set end.
Disney could be bracing for a “very prolonged shutdown.” Disney made nearly $7 billion in operating income from its parks, experiences and products business last year, making up nearly half of all operating profits.
In Orlando, home to more than 70,000 Disney cast members, Florida offers unemployment payments of up to $275 a week for 12 weeks — among the lowest rates in the US.
Disney’s theme parks and resorts in the United States and Europe have been closed for more than a month to combat the spread of COVID-19 by preventing mass gatherings of people.