Fury Rises at Disney Over Use of Foreign Workers
t the end of October, IT employees at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts were called, one-by-one, into conference rooms to receive notice of their layoffs. Multiple conference rooms had been set aside for this purpose, and in each room an executive read from a script informing the worker that their last day would be Jan. 30, 2015.
Some workers left the rooms crying; others appeared shocked. This went on all day. As each employee received a call to go to a conference room, others in the office looked up sometimes with pained expressions. One IT worker recalls a co-worker mouthing “no” as he walked by on the way to a conference room.
What follows is a story of competing narratives about the restructuring of Disney’s global IT operations of its parks and resorts division. But the focus is on the role of H-1B workers. Use of visa workers in a layoff is a public policy issue, particularly for Disney.
Disney CEO Bob Iger is one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a leading group advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap. Last Friday, this partnership was a sponsor of an H-1B briefing at the U.S. Capitol for congressional staffers. The briefing was closed to the press.