‘At the happiest place on Earth, they are paid so poorly that they rely on food banks, sleep in cars or live so close to the bone that even a small problem could send them into a death spiral.’
That’s Disney heiress Abigail Disney explaining why she supports a bill in California that would increases taxes on companies depending on the gap between their highest paid executives and the rest of the workforce.
According to the Associated Press, the bill passed out of its first committee hearing Wednesday to stay alive ahead of a Jan. 31 deadline to pass the senate.
The proposal would only hit companies that earn at least $10 million in taxable income from business conducted in California, which includes Walt Disney DIS, +0.55% and some 2,000 other companies.
Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, lent her support to the bill, using Walt Disney — where she has no formal role — as an example of a company that needs to pay higher wages to its workers.
“If your entire reputation as a company relies on the idea of its clean floors, you had better be willing to pay your workers enough to do the job well and with dignity,” she told lawmakers this week. “Because dignity is not a perk.”
Last summer, she said she was “livid” after visiting with Disney workers at an offsite union office in Anaheim, Calif. and hearing what it’s like to work there.
“I went to Anaheim, and I wanted to be sure I understood the situation and the context really, really well,” she said at the time. “Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage.”
Abigail Disney would later go on to say she “might have been hyperbolic” about the “forage for food” comment. “You know I get emotional sometimes,” she told NPR in an interview last September.
A Walt Disney spokesperson issued this statement:
“The truth is, Disney has made significant investments to provide for the upward mobility of our employees, starting with our commitment to a minimum wage of $15 an hour, quality health insurance for as little as $6 a week, childcare subsidies, and an initial investment of $150 million to fully pay for hourly employees’ college, post-graduate or vocational degrees through the Disney Aspire program; and to date, more than 12,000 employees have enrolled in classes.”