Maybe you’ve heard about this movie the Walt Disney Co. has out. It’s called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Seems like it’s doing pretty well at the box office.
Did I see it? No.
Why? Well, for one thing, I just never turned my attention to any of the Star Wars movies, so I had no particular reason to go to the new one. But more important…I don’t give a shit about the Walt Disney Co.
Let me tell you three reasons I loathe the company:
First, my longtime employer, The Kansas City Star, was owned by Disney for a forgettable year, straddling 1996 and 1997. After the purchase, then-CEO Michael Eisner came into The Star’s newsroom and said Disney had no plans to sell The Star and three other dailies it had obtained as part of its purchase of ABC/CapCities.
A year later, all four papers were up for sale.
Second, during the time Disney owned The Star, Eisner got rid of his second in command, a former talent agent named Michael Ovitz, and gave him a severance package valued at $38 million in cash and an estimated $100 million in stock.
Third, about a year ago, Disney fired more than 200 American IT workers at Walt Disney World after forcing the workers to train foreign workers, certainly with lower salaries, to replace them.
On Monday, two of those dismissed workers, Leo Parrero, 42, and Dena Moore, 53, sued Disney and two global consulting companies that brought in the foreign workers who replaced them. Parrero and Moore contend the companies colluded to break the law by using temporary H-1B visas to bring in immigrant workers, planning all the while to replace the American workers. In the New York Times story reporting the lawsuit, Moore was quoted as saying Disney was “just doing things to save a buck, and it’s making Americans poor.”
The separate but similar Perrero and Moore lawsuits seek class-action status, meaning many of the other fired Americans could potentially gain standing. By late Monday, The Times’ story had drawn more than 650 reader comments, including this one posted by Jack Meoph of Santa Barbara, CA:
H-1B has been exploited by corporations since it’s inception to displace American workers. There is no lack of experienced workers, just a complete lack of morals by the corporations who have used this dodge to bring over cheap labor. There are seminars dedicated to the H-1B dodge/scam. If I hadn’t promised my granddaughter that I would take her to Disneyland this year, I would never go again. The Mouse has become an evil empire, and Walt spins in his grave.
Dena Moore told The Times she has 13 grandchildren and that one of the perks that went away with her job were passes that allowed her to take them to Disney World at no cost.
I remember that, too. It seemed like we had the world by the tail when Patty and I took Brooks and Charlie to Disney World on passes when they were about 9 and 8 years old respectively. (I particularly remember buying Charlie a stuffed replica of the python character Kaa and then watching the two kids rip stitching from Kaa’s jaw as they engaged in a bitter tug of war minutes after we left the park.)
I tell you, though, that feeling of getting a sweet deal passed quickly after Eisner dumped The Star. Just as current CEO Robert Iger knew he was going to fire those American workers once he had them dig their own graves (training their successors), so Eisner knew when he entered The Star’s the newsroom all those years ago he was going to sell the paper, even while his lips were saying, “No, we don’t buy properties to sell them.”
No, I won’t be going to see Star Wars or any other Disney movie that comes along. And I hope Mr. Parrero and Ms. Moore are successful in getting a class-action suit established and that all the dismissed American workers get big, fat judgments for the hosing the company gave them.