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Spotlight on Disney-Layoff Debacle

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.

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.

Disney In The Spotlight

(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. 

Do You Know What You're Worth?

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

Esther Lombardi
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11 Comments on "Spotlight on Disney-Layoff Debacle"

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concerned
Guest
Actually not only Disney and so many other big companies are at fault here, but most of all the Department of State. They are issuing H-1B visas at the request of those who take advantage of this option without any research if there indeed is a specific shortage of a skill that the companies claim they can’t find domestically. USA is a huge country. We have all skills that anyone can think of. H-1B visa policy is a disgrace to our government and should be terminated at once. With low skill jobs shipping all over the world for at least… Read more »
P Henry
Guest

Tech workers like myself have been screaming about the abuses of this visa for 20 years. I’m glad it’s finally getting some press but I doubt anything will change. The politicians on both sides of the aisle have been bought and paid for by tech lobbyists. As long as cheap labor advocates like Bloomberg and Zuckerberg have all the money, they can simply sit back and pay to flood the country with foreign slaves so they can continue to grow their billions.

weaver
Guest

The only reason the Disney debacle made the New York Times is because the Globalists broke ranks with the Progressives and tried to do a guest-worker increase without a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Amnesty.

Training your H-1B replacement has been going on for decades, nice to see that it is finally getting some media coverage.

Victor
Guest

I’d like to “look on the bright side” as the author of the article tries to do, but I’ve been reading H1-B outrage
stories for the past ~20 years… Here’s just one 12 year old example (you can find much more with an easy
Google search): http://www.vdare.com/letters/todays-letter-a-reader-mourns-an-american-programmer-who-lost-his-job-and-took-his-life
What have changed since? It got worse, much worse…

Victor
Guest

I’d like to “look on the bright side” as the author of the article tries to do, but I’ve been reading H1-B outrage
stories for the past ~20 years… Here’s just one 12 year old example (you can find much more with an easy
Google search): http://www.vdare.com/letters/todays-letter-a-reader-mourns-an-american-programmer-who-lost-his-job-and-took-his-life
What have changed since? It got worse, much worse…

idic5
Guest

THis exact thing happened with me and another 500 american at a downtown chicago Insurance company in 2009. But no fanfare, no publicity. One reason is that people were concerned about their severance , and they told you this. We got to take back America from the corporations. The TPP vote in the senate and the House continues this corporacratic coup d-etat.

idic5
Guest

we need to get the word out that displacing american IT workers with cheap h-1b is not just a recent episode specific to disney but has been happening for at least 10-15 yrs.

R. Lawson
Guest
Am I angry at Disney? I confess to being annoyed. Enough that my family is abstaining from Disney parks and dare I say Star Wars when it comes out. But, the majority of my anger isn’t reserved for Disney. Must be those “ferners” then right? Nope. I’m raging mad at Congress for selling out American workers. Their cronyism has risen to unbearable levels. So much so we should be using words like “traitors” and calling for “revolution”. The H-1b fiasco is a direct result of cronyism and a system that has legalized bribery in the form of campaign contributions. And… Read more »
Maureen O'Brien
Guest
First and foremost, the laws need to be changed. Originally the H-1B visa was intended to bring highly qualified, talented workers to the U.S. — it the 250 H-1B workers brought in by Disney were so “talented” would they need any training? Answer — they were not particularly talented at all. A clear abuse of the visa system, We all need to get after our Congressional reps. about this. A more important point — the Disney corp is opening its computer networks to people they know nothing at all about. In America it is possible to run an accurate background… Read more »
Joy
Guest
Heres’s what I sea to to corporate: http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/contact-us/corporate-communications Last Decmber I was bragging on Facebook about a Disney cast member. Becca and a supervisor at Guest Services in The Magic Kingdom helped me create a special Christmas gift for a young girl in a shelter for abused women and children. A few days ago I took to Facebook to report on Disney once again. This time it was to share a link about workers at WDW who were replaced by foreign workers. I cannot begin to express my disgust with upper management for making a decision that is the absolute… Read more »
NoGig
Guest
I have nothing but disgust for Iger. He has defecated on the legacy and reputation of Disney — one carefully built and nurtured over decades. This man and his CIO need to be kicked to the door without severance — and an apology and offer to rehire extended to the receiving end of his abuse. And for what? These men salted away a few million in their retirement accounts, enriched their outsourcers, and a few extra rupees trickled down to the street of New Delhi. Meanwhile the lives and careers of hundreds of loyal workers, spouses, and children have been… Read more »
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