Disney cuts theme park jobs

Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009 9:30 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney Parks and Resorts issued pink slips Wednesday, with more are on the way, courtesy of a reorganization designed to eliminate redundancies at a unit that employs 80,000 workers. Disney wouldn't say how many people were laid off or how many more layoffs are expected. The reorganization, said Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo, is not only a response to the weak economy but also a way to further the successful results of a shake-up four years ago.

Read more from The Hollywood Reporter via Reuters.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 10:45 PM
Jeff's avatar

I hate to get into specifics about the auto industry, or unions in general, but far too many unions aren't protecting workers from unsafe conditions or slave wages anymore, they're instead negotiating up pay and benefits that exceed what the market will allow. I read one "study" that concluded unions cause a disproportionate amount of yearly inflation. I wasn't convinced, but I wasn't willing to dismiss the idea either.

Local retail unions push pay to ridiculous heights, which I fund absurd since 90% of the work at the local grocery store requires little to no training. People make the argument that they have to make a "living wage," well, engage in the training and education to satisfy a job that merits more money. At the high end, in my line of work, we hire people on work visas from India because there aren't enough "white boys" here to do the work. We pay them the same thing we would a Midwest, corn-fed dude. The opportunities exist, but Americans seem unwilling to follow through in numbers to pursue the education. That's a bummer.

But anyway, back on topic, every larger company I've ever worked for was bloated and wasteful. The smaller companies, especially the start-ups, were full of over-worked people. The places in the middle were just right, as you'd expect.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 20, 2009 6:23 AM

john13601 said:
A few years ago one of thecar manufacturers that are crying poor now laid off something like30,000 people. In what economics class is it taught that the way toimprove business is to eliminate 30,000 potential sales.

Ensign Smith said:
He figured if he paid his employees a decent salary, they could then go out and start buying his cars, causing a sort of middle-class chain reaction. The more people could afford his cars, the more Ford could build. The more Ford could build, the more employees he could hire, and so forth.

The problem with that assumption is that employees of car manufacturers get some seriously deep discounts on vehicle purchases. That's not to say that there isn't a margin there, but its significantly smaller than with a non-employee purchase. Not to mention the "satellite" companies that also were getting discounts.

The company I work for manufactures welding equipment for the industry, and in 2005-2007 we had major projects (GMT900-T/SUV) going on with GM, and our entire company was provided with employee discounts simply because we're the guy behind the guy behind the guy. As a result, there's definitely no shortage of GM vehicles in our parking lot right now, but the margins on those vehicles is rather small, and these aren't going to be loyal, returning customers.

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Friday, February 20, 2009 7:20 AM

The opportunities exist, but Americans seem unwilling to follow through in numbers to pursue the education. That's a bummer.

When we survey the companies that hire engineering students, the number one comment we get is: "give us more of them."


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Friday, February 20, 2009 9:37 AM
Carrie M.'s avatar

You have to also consider that it's best for people to pursue the work they are best suited to do. I can't just go to school to become an engineer because there is a demand for them and I want to make more money. I would make a terrible engineer.

There are some people who are best suited for work in the labor industry and we need them to work there, too.

And I will say it again, if something isn't done about the increasing cost of higher education and the limited financial aid there is to offset it, there will be fewer people able to pursue that undergraduate education you speak about.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 20, 2009 9:39 AM

And those that do go to college aren't exactly in a great position to help the economy when they're saddled with school loans.

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Friday, February 20, 2009 9:45 AM
Carrie M.'s avatar

EXACTLY!


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 20, 2009 10:33 AM
Jeff's avatar

I think that's a cop out. The number one thing you can do in a down economy, maybe the only thing you can do, is better yourself.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 20, 2009 10:34 AM

Jeff, if supermarket cashiers shouldn't be paid a 'living wage', then whom should supermarkets pay to work in their stores? I'm envisioning an all-teen, all retiree staff.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Friday, February 20, 2009 10:55 AM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Jeff said:
I think that's a cop out. The number one thing you can do in a down economy, maybe the only thing you can do, is better yourself.

I knew you were going to say that. You're kind of predictable that way, my friend.

You are not just suggesting that people better themselves. Laborers who work hard and get really good at what they do can better themselves by getting promoted to supervisors and such.

You are suggesting that these folks need to pursue other industries and other work that require specific skill sets because they pay more. That is not only unrealistic, it's unreasonable.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 20, 2009 11:41 AM

I've said this before, but it's still true, and it's worth repeating. The days of being able to reach "middle class" (whatever that means) through a career in unskilled labor are over. Period. End of story.

Yet, people in my state still somehow think that manufacturing is going to come back and provide this path to the good life again. For example, rather than try to hold our students to a higher standard that will help them compete in the economic reality we find ourselves in, members of the Legislature think it's a good idea to dumb down the curriculum so that "students don't get frustrated."

I can see why we want to keep as many people in school for as long as we can. But, asking less of them just doesn't seem to be the best way to do it.


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Friday, February 20, 2009 11:45 AM
Jeff's avatar

I'm saying you go where the work is. That hardly seems unreasonable.

I'd also like to know how even minimum wage became less than livable. It won't put you up in a swank apartment, but it's not unheard of. I managed to do it when the minimum was $4.25. I lived in a crappy place with roommates, but I wasn't starving. It was, however, the best I could do given my experience, which was mostly nothing at the time.

We live in a culture of excess. You can see it when you drive through a poor neighborhood that's full of $30k+ cars. You can see it in neighborhoods of foreclosed houses bought on stupid ARM loans. At the end of the day, even my lazy ass knows that you have to do the work to get the better job to live at a higher means. Is it not that simple?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 20, 2009 12:07 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

No. It's not always that simple.

I recommend a couple of books: "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich and "Strapped: Why America's 20- or 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead" by Tamara Draut.

And again, you are not just saying that people need to do the work to get the better job to live at a higher means. You are saying that certain work should be assigned certain wages according to the worth you have given it. You are also suggesting that anyone, at any time, can pursue work that you think has a higher value and therefore a higher salary, simply by walking into a college and pursuing it.

If anyone is suited for any work, so long as they better themselves by getting educated (again, something not everyone can afford), why would anyone do labor? And if no one is going to do labor any more, who will be left to do it? (I think Ensign was asking this question earlier.)


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 20, 2009 12:57 PM
Jeff's avatar

The work-wage assignment has nothing to do with what I think, it has to do with market forces. Anyone can flip a burger, so it's a low-wage job. It requires no special skills. Other jobs require a specific set of skills that require varying degrees of training, and get more. Some require degrees and/or years of additional training, and score even bigger wages. Is that not the reality of it?

At no time have I suggested that anyone can just walk in to college and start pursuing anything. It takes time, naturally. But at the end of the day, people are free to make those choices or not. If they choose not, they shouldn't expect disproportionately higher wages just because. It's not even a fairness issue, it's what the market dictates. Everyone is a potential burger flipper, so it's minimum wage, but doctors are scarce, which is why they get paid the big bucks.

I don't know that everyone is suited for every kind of work. I'm not qualified to make that assumption. But I can say that everyone can make choices, and whatever, that's their journey. Your question about why anyone would want to do labor (I assume you mean blue collar) makes the assumption that no one enjoys it. I for one can't imagine doing an assembly line job, but I can't imagine that every guy on an auto line does it for decades but hates it.

We've been in a transition for years away from industrial revolution era low-skill manufacturing labor to low-skill service-oriented labor. The work may have changed, but the category of skill-wage ratio still exists. I think Mike asks the wrong question, and should be asking why isn't a cashier wage a living wage?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 20, 2009 1:00 PM
rollergator's avatar

The beauty of NAFTA is that Mexican workers can take all the low-skill, low-wage jobs that Americans don't want. The downsides: 1) without any manufacturing base to speak of, American workers don't have the money to buy products regardless of where they're built. 2) Sometimes Americans would take ANY job they could get, but those jobs are *already* occupied by those who were previously willing to do the work at lower wages (so we could get our products at lowest cost). Absolute free trade is the economist's wet-dream. The problem is that there are lots of industries that simply cannot survive free trade - meaning workers SHOULD theoretically get re-trained to move into growing sectors....but that can take AWHILE.

Edit since Jeff posted: EVERY full time job should pay a living wage (see: Gainesville ordinance) and come with at least a minimal healthcare plan. Otherwise, those business who FAIL to do so are just pushing their problems into the public sector (where we the people pay for WalMart's decision to not provide proper healthcare benefits).

Last edited by rollergator, Friday, February 20, 2009 1:02 PM
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Friday, February 20, 2009 1:57 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Jeff said:
At no time have I suggested that anyone can just walk in to college and start pursuing anything.

That is what I thought you were saying here.

People make the argument that they have to make a "living wage," well, engage in the training and education to satisfy a job that merits more money.

It's not the time to completion that is the issue. It's the access, period. Engaging in training and education is not free and therefore not available to everyone. At least not so long as the financial assistance programs continue to lag so far behind the cost of higher education.

Your question about why anyone would want to do labor (I assume you mean blue collar) makes the assumption that no one enjoys it. I for one can't imagine doing an assembly line job, but I can't imagine that every guy on an auto line does it for decades but hates it.

I don't mean to assume that there are people who wouldn't choose blue collar (thanks for the subtle clarification) work simply because they like it. But your entire premise is that in order to make a living wage people have to "better themselves" in order to pursue higher paying jobs. I do mean to assume people would choose to feed themselves and their families over the ability to work in an industry they enjoy if that industry does not afford them the means to do so.

And I believe you do suggest that people do certain work for decades despite hating it every time you speak about life balance and being held down by "the Man."


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 20, 2009 3:05 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'm actually not saying that at all. I'm challenging what is a "living wage" in the first place. The issue isn't that people can't make a living wage, it's that they want more. Well, more requires more.

I'm willing to concede that once you get yourself in trouble, it's hard to get back out. But as much as education may suck in this country, it starts out free, by law, and you choose at an early age whether or not you're going to take advantage of it. If I can be on food stamps as a kid, graduate and go to college on my own dime, at a private school no less, I'm not willing to believe that the barrier to entry is that high.

I guess I just don't buy into the victim of circumstance nonsense. Not in this country, anyway. It's like Gonch says regarding bad luck (I gotta drag him into it), your luck has less to do with some cosmic force and more to do with the choices you make.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 20, 2009 3:19 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

And I was doing so good at staying out of it. :)


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Friday, February 20, 2009 3:42 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Jeff said:
I'm actually not saying that at all. I'm challenging what is a "living wage" in the first place. The issue isn't that people can't make a living wage, it's that they want more. Well, more requires more.

Yes, you added this to your argument, but it wasn't your initial position.

I'm saying you go where the work is. That hardly seems unreasonable.

I'd also like to know how even minimum wage became less than livable. It won't put you up in a swank apartment, but it's not unheard of. I managed to do it when the minimum was $4.25. I lived in a crappy place with roommates, but I wasn't starving. It was, however, the best I could do given my experience, which was mostly nothing at the time.

In some cases, you are exactly right. But not in all cases. Your example from your own experience suggested that with sacrifices such as choosing to live in crappy, shared housing, you can make ends meet on minimum wage. Would you have been able to do that with a family? Is choosing to live in single-family housing unreasonable? How about choosing to eat more than peanut butter and jelly for each meal? What is reasonable for a living wage? I'm not talking about the people who choose $30K cars. I'm talking about people who choose the basic standard of living.

If I can be on food stamps as a kid, graduate and go to college on my own dime, at a private school no less, I'm not willing to believe that the barrier to entry is that high.

If this is the best you have to offer to support your position about higher educational access, then your data is sorely out-dated. At the University where I used to work, access to federal grants fell to zero ($0) when a family's expected family contribution was $2500 or more.

That means that if the government determined from the information provided on the federal aid application that a student's family had the means to provide $2500 to the annual cost of the student's education, they no longer qualified for federal grants. At that same institution, the annual cost ran about $25,000 a year.

One of the biggest mistakes families made when coming in to inquire about financial aid and institutional access was assuming that the current state of affairs was anything like it was even just 10 to 15 years ago.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 20, 2009 4:29 PM
Jeff's avatar

If you choose to never expand your skill level beyond a minimum wagejob, how is that not your own fault? There are examples in this verythread of people who have manufacturing jobs and have a "living wage," so it's not even like I'm suggesting college is the only way.Obviously they've learned skills and got grown up jobs. I'm stilltrying to understand if you're giving people a free pass to not beresponsible for themselves. Are you?

If there are more skilled workers than there are skilled jobs, then that's a problem. I'm not convinced yet that's the case, and wonder how much of it is a case that the workers just aren't skilled in the right things. If that's the case, we (we being the nation) need to figure out what it will take to realign the two. (Sidebar: Bailing out businesses incapable of evolving I suspect is not the way.)

I spent nearly half of last year "unemployed" (or self-employed, if you will ;)), and ditto for 2002, 2004 and 2005. I know what it's like, and it can suck. So when that happens, what should people do? You can be a victim or work the system to find a path to employment.

And yeah, I know what it's like to not be eligible for anything becauseof what my parents made, and mind you they weren't contributinganything. So again, what has changed? I knew a great many young people who didn't want to go to college because they didn't want to borrow money, and that's fine, but that's their choice. It's not because there aren't resources to take.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 20, 2009 5:05 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Jeff said:
There are examples in this verythread of people who have manufacturing jobs and have a "living wage," so it's not even like I'm suggesting college is the only way.Obviously they've learned skills and got grown up jobs.

Exactly. But some of them likely earn their "living wage" through the assistance of unions. That's how we have come full circle in this discussion.

I'm stilltrying to understand if you're giving people a free pass to not beresponsible for themselves. Are you?

Definitely not. I believe very passionately in the concept of self-accountablility and responsibility.

and wonder how much of it is a case that the workers just aren't skilled in the right things. If that's the case, we (we being the nation) need to figure out what it will take to realign the two. (Sidebar: Bailing out businesses incapable of evolving I suspect is not the way.)

I agree in part with this. I have concerns when people begin speaking about the need to provide skills in the "right" things, though. Not everyone is ever going to be able to acquire the skills for certain fields, regardless of how much demand there is or how much they pay. Medicine, law, engineering, even computer programming require some innate skill that you cannot teach anyone who is willing to learn them.

But I agree that the bailout money likely could have been used in more productive ways, like trying to help those who are a good fit for the jobs in demand right now get the skills they need to fill those roles. But the problem is we don't have the time to wait for that kind of intervention to take hold. A quicker fix was necessary.

And yeah, I know what it's like to not be eligible for anything becauseof what my parents made, and mind you they weren't contributinganything. So again, what has changed? I knew a great many young people who didn't want to go to college because they didn't want to borrow money, and that's fine, but that's their choice. It's not because there aren't resources to take.

What's changed is the available resources. They are not there today where they were when you enrolled. At least not at the public institutions. And as far as the loans go, the maximum amount a student can borrow from the federal student loan program in his/her first year is $5500. Does that even put a dent in the $25,000 cost I mentioned before? Beyond that, all options require a credit approval and likely loan terms that will bury a student upon graduation, provided they even get that credit approval in the first place. If they don't, they are indeed SOL.

we (we being the nation) need to figure out what it will take to realign the two.

Wait, I thought you and I were solving the world's problems here. ;)


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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