Disney asks employees to pay for its lobbying

Disney stamp - Wikimedia CommonsMickey Mouse outfit Walt Disney has asked its employees to pay for its court cases to stop piracy and lobbying of politicians.

Disney has been getting stranger lately and has been asking its full-time employees to train cheap Chinese workers before firing them.  However this latest effort makes it a clear front runner for the Wal Mart award for American business.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has sent a letter to the company’s employees, asking for them to open their hearts—and their wallets—to the company’s political action committee, DisneyPAC.

In the letter, which was leaked by a Disney employee, Iger tells workers about his company’s recent intellectual property victories, including stronger IP protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Supreme Court victory that destroyed Aereo, and continued vigilance about the “state of copyright law in the digital environment.” It also mentions that Disney is seeking an opening to lower the corporate tax rate.

“With the support of the US Government we achieved a win in the Supreme Court against Aereo—an Internet service claiming the right to retransmit our broadcast signals without paying copyright or retransmission consent fees. In the coming year, we expect Congress and the Administration to be active on copyright regime issues, efforts to enact legislation to approve and implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, tax reform, and more proposals to weaken retransmission consent, to name a few.”

Employees behind the leak asked to remain anonymous, and they were bothered by the assumption that anyone who worked for Disney would agree with the company’s political positions on tax, trade, intellectual property, and other matters.

The letter concludes with a suggested donation to DisneyPAC. Ars is not publishing the suggested amount in case it is personalized to the source’s compensation or position at Disney.

“For your convenience, DisneyPAC has implemented a payroll deduction system, through which your contributions to the PAC will be deducted from your weekly paycheck,” Iger explains.

The source received the letter via business mail and doesn’t know how many other employees received it.

“I don’t know how widely this was distributed,” the source said. “Was it to rank and file folks in [theme] parks, to people working in a popcorn stand?”

The Disney letter has language explicitly reassuring employees that their jobs won’t be affected by their decision whether or not to give to DisneyPAC.

“Your contribution is important to all of us, but I want to emphasize that all contributions are voluntary and have no impact on your job status, performance review, compensation, or employment,” writes Iger. “Any amount given or the decision not to give will not advantage or disadvantage you.”

Iger himself was paid $45 million last year.  It is not clear if he is stumping up any cash, given that if Disney wins he will get even more money as share prices go up.  It seems strange that a company that does not want to invest in its employees expects employees to invest in the management strategy. It sounds like the management is in Fantasyland.