Walt Disney Co broke the news this week that they would lay off roughly 28,000 employees, mostly at its U.S. theme parks, where attendance has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. About two-thirds of the laid-off employees will be part-time workers, the company said in a statement.
Disney shut its theme parks worldwide when COVID-19 struck. Disneyland reopened until the company was forced to limit the number of visitors to allow for physical distancing.
Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, said the layoffs are happening as a direct cause of the pandemic and California's ordered shutdowns.
“We have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels,” D’Amaro said in a news release.
"For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company. We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.
“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business.”
“We were disappointed to learn that the COVID-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members,” said the Service Trades Council Union, a coalition of six locals that represent more than 40,000 Disney World workers. “How many full-time and part-time Cast Members will be affected, how long health insurance and recall rights will continue and many other issues crucial to Cast Members are on the table. As soon as more information becomes available, we will notify our members.”