Disney Heiress Escalates Attack on Company’s Pay Practices

Disney Heiress Escalates Attack on Company’s Pay Practices

LOS ANGELES — The heiress Abigail Disney made headlines on Monday after she harshly criticized the company founded by her great-uncle on Twitter. On Tuesday she escalated her attack, writing in an opinion column about what she called the “naked indecency” of the company’s pay practices.

Ms. Disney’s column, which carried the headline “It’s time to call out my family’s company — and anyone else rich off their workers’ backs,” was published by The Washington Post. In it she excoriated the Walt Disney Company for awarding its chief executive, Robert A. Iger, a pay package in 2018 worth $65 million. She also cited a union-sponsored study showing that the package was 1,400 times that of the median Disney worker and called for Disney to “reward all your workers fairly.”

(Mr. Iger’s pay was made up of $39.3 million in annual compensation, with restricted stock awards tied to the acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets making up the balance.)

Disney aggressively disputed Ms. Disney’s assertions.

“Disney has made historic investments to expand the earning potential and upward mobility of our workers, implementing a starting hourly wage of $15 at Disneyland that’s double the federal minimum wage,” the company said in a statement. It added that the company had committed up to $150 million for an education initiative that gives hourly employees the opportunity to obtain a college or vocational degree at no cost.

The company’s statement noted that 90 percent of Mr. Iger’s compensation was based on financial performance and that, under Mr. Iger’s watch, Disney’s stock price had risen to $133 a share from $24 — “which directly benefits the literally thousands of employees who hold our stock.”

Ms. Disney posted several tweet storms on Sunday in which she fulminated about Disney’s “rock-bottom wages” for entry-level workers and called Mr. Iger’s pay “insane.”

Ms. Disney is a granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who founded Disney in 1923 with his brother, Walt Disney. The Disney family has not been involved in managing the company since Roy E. Disney, Ms. Disney’s father, stepped down from the board in 2003. He subsequently led a shareholder revolt that led to Michael D. Eisner’s resignation and Mr. Iger’s ascendance. Roy E. Disney died in 2009.

In her opinion article and Twitter posts, Ms. Disney made it clear that her opinions were her own and that she was not speaking on behalf of the broader Disney family. In the past, her relatives have sometimes chafed at her public comments about the company and her great-uncle. In 2014, when she called Walt Disney a misogynist on Facebook, igniting a controversy, she told The New York Times: “I regret it. I got my family all angry at me.”

Ms. Disney is a philanthropist and the director of a 2014 documentary, “The Armor of Light,” that follows an anti-abortion activist and a supporter of abortion rights. She has also produced films like “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” about a coalition of Christian and Muslim women in Liberia.

Most recently, Ms. Disney has been a founder of Level Forward, a start-up that backs media projects — films, stage shows, podcasts — driven by women and people of color.

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