Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took aim at The Walt Disney Co. and subsidiary company ABC on Friday, tweeting that the company does not offer sufficient compensation to most of its employees, despite recently reporting close to $9 billion in annual profits last year.
“I have a feeling ABC will not be asking on its nightly news program tonight how Disney can make $9 billion in profits while three-quarters of Disneyland employees can’t afford basic living expenses,” Sanders said in a Twitter post he shared ahead of his scheduled “Stop Disney Poverty” meeting in Anaheim, which will be taking place on Saturday.
As noted by Newsweek, Bernie Sanders’ comments on Disney came a few months after the results of a survey found that about three-fourths of the company’s employees working at its Disneyland theme park in California were having difficulty paying for rent, food, and other basic needs. Furthermore, the survey suggested that park employees only earned a shade above $13 an hour, and that 11 percent of them had been homeless at one point or another.
Reacting to the results of the survey in March, Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown issued a statement, referring to the poll as “inaccurate and unscientific,” and calling the sponsoring labor groups “politically motivated.” She said that the results were “deliberately distorted,” and were not reflective of how most Disneyland employees feel about the company they work for.
Earlier this week, Disney announced that it plans to raise wages for about 9,500 California theme park employees, raising their rates to $15 an hour by 2020. According to a statement from Disneyland Resort president Josh D’Amaro, the negotiations behind the potential deal were focused not just on hourly wages, but also on “working together to provide our cast members with a world-class experience.”
Last year, Disney reported a profit of $8.98 billion, and as Newsweek noted, appears to be on track to surpass that figure, after posting a profit of $2.9 billion over the first three months of 2018. These better-than-expected figures were driven by Disney’s theme park and movie divisions.
Prior to Bernie Sanders’ tweet accusing Disney of underpaying its workers, the former Democratic presidential candidate brought up the homelessness that several Disneyland workers say they experience, as he campaigned in Anaheim, where the theme park is located. As recalled by CNBC, Sanders said that many Disneyland employees “are forced to live in motels” because their low wages prevent them from finding a “decent” place to live.
Bernie Sanders’ tweet criticizing Disney also came shortly after President Donald Trump slammed the entertainment giant for a completely different reason, according to the above report from CNBC. On Thursday, the president demanded that Disney CEO Bob Iger apologize for an investigative report from ABC News’ Brian Ross, where he alleged in December that Trump asked then-advisor Michael Flynn to negotiate with Russian government officials ahead of the 2016 elections.