Media Moves

Coverage: Disney shareholders push back on CEO Iger’s pay

March 9, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

Disney-logoWalt Disney Co. shareholders issued a symbolic rejection of compensation plans for executives including CEO Bob Iger, who could earn up to $48.5 million this year.

Matthew Rocco of Fox Business had the story:

The media giant said 52% of shareholders voted down its executive compensation plan at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting, while 44% voted in favor. Another 4% of shareholders abstained from the non-binding vote.

Aylwin Lewis, chair of the Disney board’s compensation committee, said in a statement the board accepts the results and “will take it under advisement for future CEO compensation.”

Disney extended Iger’s contract in December, coinciding with the company’s $52.4 billion deal to acquire film and entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox. Under terms of the extended contract, Iger will continue to run Disney through 2021 and receive a base salary of $3 million, up from $2.5 million. His salary will grow to $3.5 million, pending completion of the Fox deal. Bonuses can bring Iger’s total compensation to $48.5 million.

Daniel Miller and Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times report that Iger’s compensation dropped in 2017:

Iger’s total compensation decreased in fiscal 2017 by 17%. Still, he remains among the highest-compensated executives in the entertainment business. His tenure has been a boon for Disney shareholders.

During his time as CEO, Disney has delivered total shareholder return of 414% and seen its market capitalization increase from $46 billion to $156 billion, the company said.

But Iger’s pay was highlighted in a recent study of Disneyland Resort workers. Paid for by labor groups pushing for higher wages at the property, the online study, which surveyed a portion of workers at the resort, pointed out the disparity in pay at the company.

The study — conducted by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research organization in Los Angeles, and the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College — concluded that the average wage for Disneyland Resort workers when adjusted for inflation dropped 15% from 2000 to 2017, from $15.80 an hour to $13.36.

Christopher Palmeri and Jack Kaskey of Bloomberg News reported that there were protestors outside the meeting:

Disney is in heated contract negotiations with theme-park workers in California and Florida who are asking for higher wages, though employees speaking at the meeting only had praise. Four park workers thanked Iger for the company’s commitments to employee education and career advancement. Two said they met their spouses while working at the company.

Outside the meeting it was a different story. About 40 employees and union activists protested the company’s wages.

Billie Taylor, 59, a five-year employee who works full time training food service workers for $11.50 an hour at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, said she is on food stamps to make ends meet. She’s living temporarily with her brother and his wife after car repair payments and other bills left her unable to pay her rent.

“We are creating the magic, we are creating the happiness for them,” she said, motioning to children getting off school buses to attend the meeting.

Iger said new park investments had created 10,000 U.S. jobs in recent years and that the company would create a similar number in the future. Some 83 percent of salaried employees at the parks division rise from hourly positions, he said. Disney employed about 199,000 people at the end of fiscal 2017.

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