Walt Disney planning 4,000 layoffs amid pandemic, tens of thousands more to come

Written by Michael Palomba

COVID lockdowns have claimed countless jobs and businesses, and unfortunately, it isn’t done yet.

Walt Disney Co. announced that they plan to lay off 4,000 employees, only the first batch in a series of expected layoffs.

The plan was revealed by a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing made earlier this week. In that filing, the company declared that it will terminate 32,000 employees across multiple divisions, including theme parks, experiences, and products, during the first half of fiscal year 2021. The 2021 fiscal year began last month.

“Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force,” the document said.

Amusement parks are closed indefinitely in California as a part of Governor Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Reopening guidelines do not allow them to reopen their doors until the counties in which they are located reach the “minimal risk” category. 40 California counties, including San Diego, slid back into the purple tier earlier this month, so it doesn’t appear that any county will be in the “minimal risk” category anytime soon.

Many amusement park officials are disgruntled by the restrictive orders set forth by the governor. Karen Irwin, the president of Universal Studios Hollywood says, “We don’t see the guidelines as based in science or facts. We’ve proven that we can operate our parks safely and responsibly.”

In addition to the 32,000 employees slated to be terminated, Walt Disney Co. put 37,000 employees on furlough as a result of the pandemic.

Disney’s parks have been closed since March, a whopping 8 months ago, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that they can’t operate like this for much longer. 32,000 layoffs is no easy decision, neither is placing 37,000 employees on furlough. In addition to the negative financial consequences for the company, tens of thousands of people will now be without work at a time when unemployment is high and jobs are scarce. Governor Newsom’s crippling restrictions are having incredibly negative real-life effects on every day Californians. Maybe he can’t hear their cries because he’s too busy partying at upscale restaurants, but that doesn’t change the fact that people are hurting, and has the power to change that.