Disney World will furlough 43,000 union workers during coronavirus shutdown


A visitor to the Disneyland Resort takes a picture through a locked gate at the entrance to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, on Monday, Mar 16, 2020.

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Walt Disney World Resort will furlough 43,000 union workers while its theme parks remain closed as authorities restrict large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Service Trades Council Union.

In a statement Sunday, Disney confirmed it reached an agreement to maintain health insurance and other benefits during the furlough, which will begin April 19. Disney will pay 100% of health insurance costs for workers currently covered for the duration of the furlough up to 12 months, according to the Services Trade Council Union.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Service Trades Council Union that will maintain members’ health insurance benefits coverage, educational support and additional employee assistance programs during a temporary furlough effective April 19,” Walt Disney Resort said. “This agreement provides an easier return to work when our community recovers from the impact of COVID-19. We are grateful to have worked together in good faith to help our Cast Members navigate these unprecedented times.” 

A small group of less than 200 workers will remain on the job during the closure, the union said. 

This news comes just weeks after Disney announced plans to furlough some of its non-union workers at its U.S.- based theme parks and stop collecting payments for its annual park passes. The entire Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment has around 177,000 cast members, this includes people who work in its theme parks and at retail locations like the Disney Store.

Disney’s theme parks across the globe are closed indefinitely since large gatherings have been restricted. Parks in Asia have been closed since February and parks in the U.S. and Paris have been closed since March. Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products is a massive piece of the company’s business. Last year, the segment accounted for 37% of the company’s $69.6 billion in total revenue.

Also this month, Disney made drastic changes to its 2020 movie slate, as theaters have been shuttered due to restrictions on social gatherings. The company revealed that a number of films would be shifted to later dates on the calendar this year and into 2021 and 2022. Other films would be pushed to Disney+ or were not given a new release date as of yet. 

Last year, Disney reported $11.13 billion in revenue from the global box office, representing around 16% of its total revenue for the year.

Executive Chairman Bob Iger will forgo his salary and new CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, Disney warned investors that the coronavirus pandemic has affected so many of its business segments that it’s becoming more challenging for the company to estimate its future performance. The company is currently expected to report fiscal second quarter earnings in May.



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