Disney will stop sending paychecks to more than 100,000 employees this week amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to published reports.
As the company cuts pay for nearly half of its workforce, the move is expected to save up to $500 million a month at its theme parks and hotels, the Financial Times reported Monday via the Los Angeles Times.
Among the company’s theme parks are Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Disneyland in Anaheim, and the Disneyland Paris Resort. The parks have been shuttered since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic started to worsen. At the time, the closures were expected to last only a couple of weeks.
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On April 11, Disney confirmed that it would furlough about 43,000 unionized Walt Disney World employees or “cast members,” after the union representing the workers made the announcement during a Facebook Live video briefing.
“This is a decision that the union doesn’t like, however, it’s within the company’s right to lay off and furlough employees in this situation,” said Eric Clinton, president of Unite Here! Local 362, which represents attractions, custodial and vacation planning workers at Disney World.
The union said all affected employees would be eligible to immediately enroll in unemployment benefits, and those with insurance will be able to keep their medical, dental and life insurance benefits for up to a year.
In Orlando, where Disney employees more than 70,000 “cast members,” the union said just under 200 workers considered essential will remain on the job, including custodial, culinary, housekeeping and lake patrol positions.
Florida offers unemployment payments of up to $275 a week for 12 weeks. According to the Financial Times, that’s one of the lowest unemployment payment rates in the U.S.
The Disney cuts are much more widespread than those at other theme-park owners, such as NBCUniversal and Warner Media.