Walt Disney Company
is a microcosm of today`s
corporate America: millions paid in
salary and bonus
for the big boys while the company
The remaining employees are
as hard as possible.
Finally, foreign workers are hired on
H-1B non-immigrant visas
thus shutting out
from mid-level management
For the lucky ones at Disney, January started out
with a financial bang.
On January 6, Disney announced that Chief Executive
Michael Eisner received a $7.35 million cash bonus in
With his base salary of $1 million and other
compensation, Eisner`s total pay package was $8.3
Disney President and Chief Operating Officer Robert
Iger also got a healthy $6.5 million cash bonus. Added
to his annual salary of $1.5 million and other payouts,
Iger`s aggregate 2004 compensation was $12 million.
According to the Disney compensation committee,
Eisner and Iger`s bonuses were a reward for the
company`s 72% earnings increase during 2004.
While these sums are nothing to sneeze at, even
bigger stakes are on the table this week during on going
talks between Miramax co-founders Harvey and Bob
Weinstein and Miramax`s parent company, Disney.
Ten years ago, Disney bought Miramax from the
Weinsteins for $80 million. Today, with their corporate
divorce pending, Disney is prepared to buy out the
Weinstein`s contract for $100 million.
Also, the trial between former Disney president
Michael Ovitz and Disney shareholders
final phase this week. Ovitz contends that his
$140 million severance package
, after only 15 months
at Disney, is justified.
In fact, Ovitz`s lawyer Larry R. Feldman
that had Disney directors denied payment on
the basis of "gross negligence"
the company might have been forced to
pay out additional "hundreds of millions of dollars"
in damages for fraud, defamation and breach of contract.
With millions either already handed out or pending
for the Disney upper echelon, let`s see how far down the
line that corporate largess extends.
Last month the Orlando Sentinel
its story titled
"For Many Disney Jobs, the Future is Part Time,"
(by Sean Mussenden), that Walt Disney World is
determined to continue expanding its part-time labor
force at the expense of full-time employees.
In the past decade, in what reporter Sean Mussenden
calls part of a "national trend toward temporary
the number of part-time employees at the
Disney hotels and theme parks has grown ten times as
fast as full-time employees.
Since 1994, Disney has added 9,400 part-time
employees—an increase of 140%. Full-time staff over the
last decade increased by only 5,000 employees or 15%.
Disney, who promised Wall Street that it would
control increases in labor costs to maximize profits at
its parks and resorts division, vigorously defends its
switch to part-time employees.
Although Disney World Senior Vice President Jerry
Montgomery admits that full-time workers "cost more
part-time workers, "
President Al Weis claims
that the bulk of Disney`s part-time workers are
or others who do not want full-time jobs.
And Weis further claims that Disney has no need to
provide health insurance or other similar benefits to
because they are either students
covered by their parents` insurance or adults covered by
their spouses` plans.
On an Internet website devoted to Disney issues, "The
"this comment was posted regarding
Disney`s part-time future:
"It saves the company
money on OT pay, health care costs and other benefits.
But will it cost the company in the long run as the
quality of its workers could be affected by turnover and
lack of commitment to the usually high Disney standards.
This is not just
something Disney is doing. It`s a national trend as
well. A few years ago there was talk about how the USA
would become a leisure society with workweeks of 32-35
hours a week. I don`t think anyone expected those jobs
to be on the low end of the pay scale, however."
Disney, like other multinational giants, has added to
its domestic middle management team through extensive
use of H-1B visas.
According to a
, Disney and its divisions have 36
H-1B employees earning from $36,000 annually for a trade
analyst to $150,000 for a Vice President of the Glendale
The average salary for the Disney H-1B employees is
Studying the Disney pattern of wages and hiring
But it explains how in America the
rich get richer,
is slowly but steadily vanishing.Joe Guzzardi [ email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the