(CBS/CNN) — Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed Disney earlier this month over layoffs and other decisions that she says prioritized shareholders over employees. Now Disney has responded — and Warren is not satisfied with the company’s reply.

Last month Disney said it was laying off 28,000 people in the US as the pandemic decimated its parks and resorts business. Shortly after that, in a letter on October 13, Warren skewered Disney for making “short-sighted” business decisions that blew through the company’s capital, while “showering its top executives with over-the-top compensation packages and salaries.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek responded to Warren in his own letter on Tuesday, saying that the senator’s “indictment that our past actions somehow weakened our financial cushion and our ability to retain and pay workers amid the pandemic is ill-considered and misleading.”

“As you are well aware, this unprecedented crisis has had a devastating impact on companies nationwide, and businesses large and small have had to take the difficult steps required to weather the impact,” he added.

Warren responded in a statement on Wednesday: “Disney won’t answer my questions because it has no good answers. The company said it was simply unfeasible to keep paying workers yet had no explanation for how it was feasible to restore senior executive pay.”

Chapek agreed earlier this year to take a 50% pay cut, and executive chairman Bob Iger agreed to forgo the remainder of his salary. Thousands of Disney vice presidents and above also took temporary pay cuts of lower percentages earlier this year — but in August, Deadline reported, those cuts ended. (It’s not clear that Iger and Chapek’s voluntary cuts were reversed by that decision.) Warren also noted in her letter earlier this month that base salaries represent a small portion of Disney executives’ overall compensation.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Warren’s statement.

Warren added on Wednesday: “Disney spent its emergency fund by handing out billions of dollars to its top wealthy executives and shareholders in stock buybacks and dividends,” but once the pandemic hit its business, it “left thousands of workers holding the bag.”


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In his letter, Chapek noted Disney closed its domestic parks in March but continued to pay employees for “well over a month.”

“As the pandemic persisted, we had to make the difficult decision to furlough employees while continuing to pay the full cost of their health coverage,” Chapek continued. “More than six months after closing our domestic parks, with the outcome of the pandemic still very uncertain, we had no choice to lay off a number of non-working employees.”

Chapek added that Disney’s financial decisions over the past few years are “wholly unrelated to the need to lay off workers.”

“As we have stated, given the ongoing uncertainties of this pandemic, including limits on capacity to promote social distancing, and the State of California’s refusal to permit a safe reopening any time soon, it unfortunately is not feasible to pay non-working employees indefinitely.”

Could Warren Join A Biden Cabinet?

Warren has been campaigning for Joe Biden this month – will she be part of his cabinet if the former vice president wins the race for the White House? WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller posed the question to her on Sunday.

“I’m going to stay focused on (the remaining days before Election Day) like a laser,” Warren said. “And then I hope we have a giant celebration, we bring lots of people across the finish line, we make it clear we are turning our backs on the way Donald Trump has approached government and approached human beings in our country. And then I’m going to find the best way I can to keep working. And that’s what I’m going to stay focused on.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN’s Frank Pallotta contributed to this report.)


Comments (3)
  1. Frank DeLorey says:

    Disney won’t answer Fauxcahontas???

  2. I am a bit confused here. What makes Ms Warren think that Disney corperation owes any explanation to her. Is disney supposed to go bankrupt to satisfy Ms Warren? This is not the ROC..(The Republic of Cambridge) How long were they supposed to pay furloughed workers?

    Ms. Warren how about you concern yourself with the business of the State you werre elected to represent.How about Ms Warren you hector republicans and help the small businesses and restrauntsa in Massachusettes?

  3. Lady Penelope says:

    Sorry, Fake Indian. You have to pay to see The Mandalorian Season 2. Isn’t Warren and absolute disgrace, yet she receives Winnie-the-kissy-pohs from WBZ, Jon Keller (a Democrat hack), and the Massachusetts media, an utter disgrace. Trump will get re-elected because we don’t see Fauxcahontas talking about any cabinet positions right now in the Dementia Administration. Ditto for Maaahty Walsh (a face that came out of a bee-hive) who thought he was going to be an Ambassador to Boozeland.

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