The company claims that Senator Warren’s “misinformed” letter contains a number of inaccuracies, but did not detail what they were in a statement, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Senior executives at Disney took pay cuts when the coronavirus pandemic hit forcing the shuttering of many of the firm’s lines of business.
Senator Warren criticised the company for restoring their pay at a time when 28,000 people were then let go in the theme parks division, saying that she would like to know whether Disney's financial decisions have impacted the company´s decision to layoff workers.
“It appears that — prior to, and during the pandemic — Disney took good care of its top executives and shareholders — and now is hanging its front-line workers out to dry,” she wrote.
“In the years leading up to this crisis, your company prioritised the enrichment of executives and stockholders through hefty compensation packages, and billions of dollars' worth of dividend payments and stock buybacks, all of which weakened Disney’s financial cushion and ability to retain and pay its front-line workers amid the pandemic,” Senator Warren argued.
The letter was addressed to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, and Bob Iger, the former CEO turned executive chairman.
In a statement, Disney responded: “We’ve unequivocally demonstrated our ability to operate responsibly with strict health and safety protocols in place at all of our theme parks worldwide, with the exception of Disneyland Resort in California, where the State has prevented us from reopening, even though we have reached agreements with unions representing the majority of our cast members that would get them back to work.”
Senator Warren is also concerned about the company blaming public health measure intended to save lives for the layoffs, but appreciated that the company continued to provide healthcare for furloughed workers over the last six months.
Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida, reopened in July, but a quarter of the layoffs will be in the Sunshine state. Disneyland in Anaheim, California, remains closed with no date set for reopening. Disney parks in Asia have also reopened.
Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, has also been critical of the company’s response to the pandemic. In April she described Mr Iger’s $65m pay package as insane and called for more resources to be directed to the firm’s low-paid workers.