Sunday, June 3, 2018


Say it ain't so!

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders revisited one of the core themes of his 2016 presidential run during a rally for workers, excoriating the Walt Disney Co. for showering money on CEO Bob Iger while short-changing Disneyland workers...

"I want to hear the moral defense of a company that makes $9 billion in profits, $400 million for their CEO and have a 30-year working going hungry. Tell me how that is right." ...

Maybe not right. But for sure not new.

When Ralph Hulett (my old man) started at Disney in 1938, he was making $15 per week.

When he worked in the background department after WWII, he made $60 per week.

Animation veteran Don Lusk made a higher weekly wage clerking in a liquor store up in Big Bear than he did as an animator at Walt Disney Productions.

NOBODY working at WDP in the forties, fifties or sixties was under the illusion that he or she was making top money. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Walt's "Nine Old Men", were making $850/week when they retired. Director Woolie Reitherman, who ran Disney's animation department for fifteen years, said to me:

Hell, we didn't get rich because of the salaries this place paid. We ended up rich because the stock options turned out to be worth something. ...

For years, the rationale of the company's artists was: "We're working for Disney, the acknowledged 'country club' of animation studios, with ball fields and ping pong tables and tasty, inexpensive lunches at the studio commissary. So what if we could make more money working for Hanna-Barbera or Snowball Productions?"

In many ways, the Disney corporate mindset hasn't changed much. If it can pay lower salaries to people, it will. But Disney employees are pushing back harder than they used to, fighting for better pay. And cheering United States Senator who tell them they're getting hosed.

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