By Mike Murphy
Last year, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger made $65.6 million — about 1,424 times the median Disney employee’s salary, an amount that heiress Abigail Disney is calling “insane.”
Disney, a philanthropist and filmmaker whose grandfather, Roy Disney, co-founded the entertainment giant, spoke against income inequality at a Fast Company event Friday, and reiterated her thoughts Sunday on Twitter, saying the company is making so much money that it has no excuse not to give its lowest-paid employees significant pay raises, as opposed to a $15 minimum wage, or one-time bonuses.
“We all know the Federal Minimum is too low to live on. So why must we, at a company that’s more profitable than it’s ever been, be paying anything so close to least the law allows at all???”
Abigail Disney, on Twitter
“When [Iger] got his bonus last year, I did the math, and I figured out that he could have given personally, out of pocket, a 15% raise to everyone who worked at Disneyland, and still walked away with $10 million,” she said Friday, according to Fast Company . “So there’s a point at which there’s just too much going around the top of the system into this class of people who — I’m sorry this is radical — have too much money. There is such a thing.”
Disney is a member of Patriotic Millionaires , a group of high-net-worth Americans that advocates higher taxes for the rich and equal political representation.
Disney said she has nothing against Iger and said he has “led the company brilliantly,” but argued that a pay cut for him — and other super-wealthy executives — would hardly be felt.
“What difference would it make in the quality of life for those that gave up half their bonus? None. Zero. Maybe they can’t afford a third home. Or another boat. I’m not being facetious here. That’s the kind of sacrifice we’d be talking about for high level execs,” she said in a tweet .
However, reallocating that money to workers would have a big and immediate effect, she argued.
“Anyone who contributes to the success of a profitable company and who works full time to do so should not go hungry, should not ration insulin, and should not have to sleep in a car,” she added , referring to a Los Angeles Times report that three-quarters of Disney’s resort workers in Anaheim, Calif., say they can’t afford basic living expenses. She said a significant pay raise would have “a DRAMATIC change in living conditions for people who up til now worked full time and yet [were] living at or below the poverty line.”
In an emailed statement, a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson said the company offers a starting minimum wage of $15 an hour as well as free education opportunities to hourly workers, and noted that Iger’s compensation is 90% performance-based and “he has delivered exceptional value for shareholders.”
But Abigail Disney isn’t the only one who thinks Iger is making too much money. In March, the company cut $13.5 million from Iger’s potential future earnings after shareholders pushed back against his compensation, and in December the company raised benchmarks he must hit to earn a $100 million equity grant in 2021.
Disney shares /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +1.67% are up 20% year to date, compared to the 13.6% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.12% , of which it is a component.
Here’s the Twitter thread of Abigail Disney’s comments: