Bernie Sanders, appearing at a campaign rally in Anaheim on Tuesday, took aim at one of the region’s major employers — The Walt Disney Co.
Just blocks from Disneyland, Sanders told the crowd that the company “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. Meanwhile, Disney made a record breaking profit of nearly 3 billion dollars last quarter.”
“I am probably the only politician to come to Anaheim to say this,” he said.
Sanders also cited an incident that occurred last year, when the company laid off about 250 information technology workers and replaced them with those holding H-1B guest worker visas. Donald Trump has also cited the layoffs in attacking the visa program, even though the company has said that it was able to hire back more than 100 of the 250 employees and that the IT team would be larger than it was before the reorganization.
Sanders contrasted the layoffs to the $46.5 million in compensation of Disney CEO Robert Iger, although he did not cite Iger by name.
Sanders said that Disney was “an example of what we are talking about when we talk about a rigged economy.”
He said that it “would be nice” for Disney to move its manufacturing of consumer products like T-shirts to the United States, rather than have them produced with cheap labor in China. He accused Disney of “exploiting people in China.”
He also predicted that what he said would “not appear on ABC tonight,” noting that Disney is its corporate parent. But ABC News did stream his speech, and Sanders will appear on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” later this week.
Sanders’ rally was held at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Update: A Disney spokesman said, “Mr. Sanders clearly doesn’t have his facts right. The Disneyland Resort generates more than $5.7 billion annually for the local economy, and as the area’s largest employer has added more than 11,000 jobs over the last decade, a 65% increase. These numbers don’t take into account our $1 billion expansion to add a Star Wars-themed land, which will create thousands of additional jobs across multiple sectors.”
The spokesman also addressed the guest worker visas.
“Here are the facts: We rehired more than 100 people impacted by our Parks IT reorganization, have hired more than 170 other US IT workers roles and are currently recruiting candidates to fill more than 100 IT positions.”