Disney employees are taking a stand amid the company’s response to Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
On Tuesday, employees staged several walkouts to protest CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of the bill, which passed the state legislature and is now awaiting the signature of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
If signed, the bill would prohibit classroom discussions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools between kindergarten and third grade.
Chapek, who initially chose not to speak publicly on the matter, opted to work behind the scenes in an effort to soften the law. it did not work.
After a swift response the executive eventually reversed course. He publicly denounced the act during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on 9 March.
Two days later, Chapek went a step further and apologized directly to employees in a memo to the company, which read, “You need me to be a strong ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I’m sorry.” “
But some activists think the gesture was too small, too late.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek under fire amid company’s response to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill
“We expect more from the CEO,” Nicolas Luis Maldonado, a current Disney employee who participated in Tuesday’s walkout, told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.
“I just want to take pride in saying that I am an employee of Disney World [again]But at the moment right now, I’m just not feeling the Disney magic,” he continued.
A Disney spokesperson responded to the walkout in a statement, writing, “We know how important this issue is to our LGBTQ+ employees, their families and allies, we respect our partners’ right to express their views.” , and we pledge our continued support to the LGBTQ+ community in the fight for equal rights.”
Early Tuesday, the company’s Parks division posted a statement on social media, which read, “We oppose any law that violates basic human rights, and stand in solidarity and our LGBTQIA+ cast.” , Crew, and support the Imagineers and fans who make their voices heard today and every day.”
The statements follow Monday’s all-company virtual town hall (dedicated to issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community), in addition to the revelation of a new task force that Disney says will create “more LGBT-based programs for kids and families.” Will develop an action plan for creating aware content.”
The company also revealed that Chapek and other senior leaders will undertake a global audition tour and meet with employees in the US and internationally.
“It is a step in the right direction from his statement, but a lot more needs to be done from today onwards,” Maldonado said. He said he hopes the company holds more town halls and open forums in support of the community and “in addition to public statements against any future anti-LGBTQ laws.”
ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 22: Disney employee Nicolas Maldonado holds a sign as he protests outside Walt Disney World on March 22, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. Employees are staging a company-wide walkout today to protest The Walt Disney Company’s response to a controversial law known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
David Huerta, president of the Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW), told Yahoo Finance that “this is an essential fight.”
The California-based union represents several worker classifications within Disney, including costume and custody.
“Our members expect Disney to be a good corporate citizen… I think for too long Corporate America has been looking after its own interests, and not really understanding the impact on those issues. are beyond the workplace,” he said.
Referencing recent employee fights at Starbucks (SBUX), Amazon (AMZN), Kellogg’s (K), and Netflix (NFLX), Huerta explained that big-name corporations like Disney have a responsibility that moves beyond their core businesses. .
“I think workers realize they have more power than they give themselves credit for,” Huerta said.
He said holding employers accountable is “a very good thing” which is “long overdue”.
“People who work have power and their power is stronger when they stand side by side than when they stand alone,” he concluded.
Alexandra is Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. follow him on twitter @alliecanal8193
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