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Select employees of Disney World and Disneyland reportedly received an email explaining that their furlough has been extended amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The announcement drew ire on social media, with some criticizing the company for recently restoring executive salaries while lower-level employees remain out of work.
Disney actress Sheila Ward claims that she and other staffers received an email on Monday detailing that their furlough was “indefinite,” with no date disclosed regarding when cast members may be called back to work.
“I wasn't as panicked by it, I'm definitely seeing people out there that are,” Ward told WESH of the news. “We don't have children, we don't have extra mouths to feed to worry about, you know?”
Ward is a member of the Actors' Equity Association, the union behind the theme park’s actors and singers, and is under contract for one year as a cast member.
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Amid an uncertain future, the actor praised Disney for still supporting employee health insurance.
“I think they've done more than they ever thought they would have. The fact that our health insurance is being paid for is huge,” she said.
Ward acknowledged, however, that many other folks are understandably upset about the furlough extension and voiced her hopes for returning to work soon.
“I'm worried because it's a place I love to work and we have such great jobs creating magic for our guests every day, so I get concerned that a virus is going to mess with our 31-year career that I've had with them, so that concerns me,” she said.
People claiming to be cast members similarly took to Twitter to voice their frustrations, calling out Disney for a lack of transparency and poor management.
The Wall Street Journal reports the entertainment giant lifted some coronavirus-related pay cuts for executives on Sunday.
One Twitter user claimed that it was “time to look for another job” after learning that her Disney furlough will extend past Oct. 19 and until further notice.
Meanwhile, Disney World in Florida is scaling back its operating hours in September after experiencing more cancellations than anticipated. In California, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park remain closed until further notice.
A spokesperson for Disney was not immediately available to offer further comment.