Readers React: Disneyland’s low pay is a reminder that benevolent corporations do not exist
To the editor: I worked at a Disneyland restaurant during my college years in the 1970s. Most of my fellow “cast members” were college kids; many of them were enrolled at Cal State Fullerton, known affectionately as “Cal State Disneyland.” I remember receiving a robust hourly wage and no one complained. The guys merely disliked the no-mustache or sideburns rule.
Employee demographics have shifted dramatically since then, and the first park-wide strike in 1984 signaled the official beginning of employee dissatisfaction. (“Disneyland’s workers are undervalued, disrespected and underpaid,” Opinion, Feb. 28)
I used to think that Walt Disney would have disapproved of poor employee treatment and intervened on the workers’ behalf. Then, I read biographies detailing his studio’s union-led strike in 1941 for fair artist treatment. He was blindsided by the effort and sourly disposed to address legitimate worker concerns; he never again trusted his employees.
There are no benevolent corporations. Although the Anaheim park reaps munificent returns, its coffers merely support ridiculous corporate purchases like Fox Network assets and [Disney CEO Robert] Iger’s expected salary bump to $162.5 million. And Disneyland’s preternaturally cheerful cast members bear the brunt.
Mary MacGregor, La Quinta
To the editor: Disney pays competitive wages and benefits. You want more money? Quit Disney and go where wages and benefits are better.
This has nothing to do with a “living wage” and everything to do with business practices and individual skills. Disney will pay more when human capital costs more. When human capital costs are too high, Disney will replace individuals with capital improvements.
Individuals are responsible for attaining the skills that businesses require. If you want to earn more money, you must invest in your value to the business.
Fritz von Coelln, Fullerton
To the editor: My father has worked at Disneyland for the entirety of my life: 39 years. This article reminds me of all the children, like me, who are missing out on a parent in order to make a rich company richer.
When raising our family, my dad had to supplement his full-time Disneyland job with additional income by working a second shift at a hotel. I remember my childhood as one with a father I saw on some weekends and occasionally in the middle of night when he’d come home after working two jobs.
But he never complained. He’s always been appreciative of his Disney employment. Our family had medical insurance and a stable income, and my father got guaranteed hours, a set schedule and sick pay. This was all because of his union membership, a rarity nowadays.
Over the years my father’s union representation has weakened, and workers’ benefits have dwindled. To think, he is one of the meager 10.7% of U.S. workers who belong to a union. How much worse would they be faring without one?
Marisela Brakebill, Long Beach
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