Is Disney the Evil Empire, or Just One of Many?

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


 

July 7, 2015

After negative media and public sentiment towards Disney following layoff announcements in May 2015 and October 2014 – wherein employees, to obtain their exit packages, had to train their foreign replacements – last month the company reversed its May announcement, and the foreign replacements brought in for training disappeared from the workplace.

The change of decision no doubt was welcome by the 35 tech workers who were told in May they were losing their jobs (and certainly buys them time to look elsewhere, which is what I’d be doing after I’d been shown how disposable I was); the October folks weren’t so “lucky.” But from what’s thus far been reported, we don’t have any indications that Disney, as policy, is rethinking hiring foreign replacements for American workers.

If they are, kudos. But I am somewhat cynical and more likely to agree with a comment in response to one of the stories about the layoff reversal, in which a poster suggested the “Evil Empire” was just letting things cool down and would resume replacing workers with foreign (cheaper) labor.

As a bit of an aside here, that moniker may have other basis than its treatment of people. Consider the animals.

Apparently Disney was responsible for the myth that lemmings commit suicide en masse – an idea how many of us captive to Disney programming in the 1950s and ‘60s believed? This story was spun in “White Wilderness,” a Disney-produced show from 1958 that was in the studio's “True Life Adventure” series. A segment showed lemmings jumping off a cliff into the ocean and was later debunked as staged – the poor animals were thrown over the cliff to their deaths!

Restitution to the lemmings by Disney would seem to be in order.

But perhaps I digress too much on past egregious Disney transgressions …

Back to now and the topic of replacing American workers with labor from other countries, often India, a country with a population closing in on 1.3 billion (perhaps you won’t miss the irony that every American worker could be replaced with an Indian worker, and India still would have a billion people).

That The New York Times covered the Disney disgrace is encouraging, given the publication’s cheerleading status for immigration. I sense, finally, some broader awareness of the travesty of importing foreign workers through the very-gamed H-1B program. Prior to Disney, mainstream media also covered the SoCal Edison firing of 400 IT workers who were replaced with H-1Bs. As well, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fl.) in June called for an examination of the H-1B and its potential misuse, and the Department of Labor now is looking at the SoCal Edison layoff.

Beyond SoCal Edison and Disney, there are many more stories to be told. The Wall of H-1B Shame has, among many other names, Cargill, Deloitte, Fossil Group, Harley Davidson, Northeast Utilities and Pfizer. At any given time, the U.S. may have more than 600,000 employees working on H-1B visas – that could be a lot of employed Americans! Add to that spouses of H-1B workers, some of whom may now work in the U.S. by way of new policy, and you’re talking some real numbers.

Of the endless abuses and lawlessness in so many areas of U.S. immigration, surely the H-1B is one program that should raise middle-class hackles, as it hits at the core of middle-class jobs. Hopefully, media will continue reporting on this. To aid them, the Center for Immigration Studies has developed a “primer for reporters” (good reading for all).

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