Disney plans to lay off 28,000 employees, an executive announced on Tuesday, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect attendance at its parks around the world.
Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, sent a letter to Disney employees saying the company made the “difficult decisions” to end furlough for thousands as the sudden pandemic continues to cast uncertainty on the future and on tourism.
“We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal,” he wrote. “Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. And, as a result, today we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried, and hourly roles.”
He said in a statement to Deadline that about 67 percent of the 28,000 who were laid off were part-time workers. In his letter, D’Amaro labeled the move as both “heartbreaking” and “the only feasible option.”
“As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy,” D’Amaro wrote. “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.”
Disney will schedule appointments with “affected salaried and non-union hourly employees” in the next few days and will start conversations about next steps with unions on Tuesday, he said in the letter. He added the company hopes to bring back the laid off employees “when we can.”
The company’s announcement comes as its parks in California remain closed amid coronavirus restrictions. Disney’s other parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan have reopened but with limited capacity permitted.
In D’Amaro’s statement, he specifically calls out California for its “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” saying it “exacerbated” the “continued uncertainty” associated with the pandemic.
Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsTwo senior House Democrats to retire Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE (D-Fla.), whose district includes Disney World in Orlando, released a statement saying the layoffs will be "devastating for countless people."
“We will be working with government and civic partners to provide as much support as possible to these workers and their families, and to all those who are out of work through no fault of their own," she said.
Demings also called on Senate Republicans to "stop stonewalling" and pass COVID-19 relief legislation.
"These layoffs show yet again how desperately that assistance is needed by American households and businesses," she said.
Updated on Sept. 30 at 11:23 a.m.