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Disney CEO Blasts Bernie Sanders for Accusing the Company of Paying Low Wages

ROBERT IGERROBERT IGER
Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Co.Photograph by Kimberly White — Getty Images

On a campaign stop in Anaheim on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders slammed one of the area’s most prominent players—Disney—and its CEO Bob Iger is none too pleased.

At a rally near Disneyland, the Vermont Senator, who’s staked his bid for the White House on championing the 99%—took aim at The Walt Disney Co.’s pay practices.

He told the crowd that the entertainment giant “pays its workers [at the park] so low that many are forced to live in motels because they can’t afford a decent place to live.” He contrasted that with Disney’s “record-breaking profit of nearly $3 billion last quarter.”

Sanders was likely referring to the first quarter of 2016, when Disney reported $2.9 billion in earnings that were driven, in part, by the success of its Star Wars franchise. In early May, the company missed Wall Street’s targets when it reported second quarter earnings of $2.1 billion.

The Democratic candidate for president also attacked the company for last year laying off 250 technology workers after requiring some of them to train their replacements: foreign employees hired on temporary H-1B visas for highly skilled technical workers through an Indian outsourcing firm.

He contrasted the layoffs against Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger’s $46.5 million pay package and cited Disney as “an example of what we are talking about when we talk about a rigged economy.”

(Iger received compensation worth $46.5 million in fiscal year 2014. Last year he earned $44.9 million or 3.4% less.)

In response, Iger blasted Sanders in a private Facebook message, according to The Wrap, asking what the long-time politician had added to the economy.

“To Bernie Sanders: We created 11,000 new jobs at Disneyland in the past decade, and our company has created 18,000 in the US in the last five years. How many jobs have you created? What have you contributed to the US economy?”

A spokesperson for Disney told The Wrap that Sanders “clearly doesn’t have his facts right,” since Disneyland “generates more than $5.7 billion annually for the local economy.” It’s the area’s largest employer, the rep said, having added “more than 11,000 jobs over the last decade, a 65% increase.” The company says its new $1 billion Star Wars-themed land will also create thousands of new jobs across multiple sectors.

 

You can safely assume from Iger’s post that he isn’t likely to support Sanders in California’s upcoming primary. Plus, he’s a known donor to the Senator’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.