It feels a bit like deja vu. Didn’t we just hear all that hubbub about Disney laying off workers? It was a sordid tale that involved 250 workers laid off from “the happiest place” on Earth, and then asked to train their replacements (who were an apparent part of an outsourcing directive via H-1B visas). Disney’s debacle was only one of the most publicized incidents of such layoffs, and that bad PR may just have made a difference. After all, Disney just canceled similar plans to lay off more than 30 IT workers earlier this month.
(Photo Credit: Skitterphoto/Pixabay)
While the change at the Disney ABC TV Media Technology & Strategy was confirmed by a Disney spokesperson, according to the ComputerWorld story, much of the actual situation appears to be a mystery. Unnamed employees claimed they were under “no illusions,” after hearing about what had happened to their fellow Disney employees. But, Disney appeared to side-step the whole H-1B issue, saying that they make minimal use of the H-1B visa program.
Since the H-1B program was launched in 1990, we’ve repeatedly heard that reform was needed. So, maybe we should be thanking Disney. Without this story, and the subsequent public outrage, our labor debate may not have reached such a fevered pitch.
Rightly or wrongly, Disney has become a perfect poster child for all that’s wrong with the H-1B visa program. That “happiest place” notoriety has turned in on itself. We’re faced with this alleged lay-off-and-replacement policy. Then, we simultaneously remember that Disney is also enjoying record profits. This is not, then, a matter of survival, but rather greed.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Speaking out makes a difference.
When you’re laid off, it’s easy to feel disenchanted. You may even be concerned about losing your severance package if you speak out about the layoff. (And depending on the terms of your agreement, you could.) But, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that Disney did a complete reversal in their decision, when the Disney workers started speaking out. The media spotlight once again has demonstrated that we, as the reading public, can be passionate about and responsive to the news of unfairness. We care, because we can easily see ourselves in the shoes of those laid-off workers.
2. It may be temporary.
Yes, Disney might just be waiting for the worst of the storm to blow over. They may indeed be planning to go ahead with a plan to replace workers. But, while it may be temporary, the rage that has been inspired by past actions won’t completely disappear. It won’t take much to get you all riled up again.
3. Momentum is building.
A reversal was the easiest and most effective method to divert attention from the PR nightmare; but if you’ve seen even a little of the rage on the interwebs, it was also the only decision that could start to alleviate the pressure. It’s also become clear that it will be difficult to keep labor practices like this a secret. Even those unnamed employees are gaining credibility. We’re all becoming more aware and educated about labor law. And (hopefully) we’re also more vocal about letting our representatives hear.
4. It’s under investigation.
The Labor Department is opening an investigation into two outsourcing companies, according to The New York Times. And, even Disney made that statement about their support for appropriate action being taken, if the H-1B visa program is being abused.
Tell Us What You Think
Are you still angry about the Disney labor-layoff debacle? Or, have you forgiven or even forgotten? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.