GLENDALE -- Most of the 4,000 job cuts The Walt Disney Co. plans to
make this year are targeted at areas outside of Glendale and the layoffs
are not expected to affect local projects, officials said Wednesday.
Word of the biggest layoff in Disney’s history probably raised concern
among many in Glendale, where the company employs hundreds of people at
its Walt Disney Imagineering campus and at KABC-TV (Channel 7).
But the cuts should have little effect on the station or the company’s
plans to expand its campus on San Fernando Road to nearly 6 million
square feet, said Ken Green, a Disney spokesman.
“We’re talking about 3%, three out of 100 people,” he said.
More than 3,000 of the cuts will likely be made in the company’s
theme-park division, Disney officials said.
Specific information about the layoffs is not available because
directors of the company’s business units will have to decide where the
cuts will be made, Green said.
Disney employees on Tuesday received e-mails informing them that 4,000
full-time jobs would be eliminated by July due to “the increasingly
pressing challenges of the softening economic environment.”
In the message, Disney executives said they would try to bring about
the reduction through a “voluntary separation program,” in which those
who offer to leave will receive severance incentives, extended benefits
and outplacement services.
Arnold Kleiner, president and general manager of KABC, said he hoped
to avoid mandatory layoffs.
“Our hope is that the voluntary part of this will take care of it
all,” he said.
When asked whether the station could afford to lose any employees,
Arnold said, “We can always do things differently.”
Some station employees have asked questions about the layoffs but no
one seems to be panicking, he said.
The company has about 120,000 employees worldwide. Providing benefits
to laid-off workers is expected to cost Disney $250,000 but the cuts will
save the company about $400 million a year.
Following news of the layoff, Disney shares fell 84 cents to $28.36.
Disney employees eligible for the voluntary separation program will be
notified in less than 10 days and will be given three weeks to decide
whether they want to leave the company.
“I don’t think people will really come to terms with it until they get
the letter,” Kleiner said. “I don’t think it’s real until then.”