ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The announcement that Disney laying off 28,000 U.S cast members shocked staff members across Central Florida, like Sally Nieves.
“As soon as I saw the news I was like ‘Oh God,’ and my phone hasn’t stopped for the last hour,” Sally Nieves said.
Nieves said she learned about the news through an email sent to cast members from Disney Chairman Josh D’Amaro.
She said the memo it didn’t specify whether she was among the latest wave of workers being cut because of the coronavirus.
“Right now, I’m not even thinking about that, how are we going to survive the next couple of months,” Nieves said.
In the statement D’Amaro called the decision ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19.'
The theme park giant suffered after it shuttered in March and in a statement D’Amaro said the layoffs will impact two-thirds of part-time cast members.
“Stress levels are up, it is difficult to even sleep,” Nieves said.
Retired UCF Professor Duncan Dickson weighed in on the layoffs.
“It’s a double-edged sword how long do you leave people in limbo hoping to come back and not going out to suit other opportunities,” Professor Dickson said.
Walt Disney World reopened its theme parks in mid-July with masks, social distancing, and contactless options.
Park officials said they were forced to make adjustments and ultimately ended its furlough of thousands of employees.
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” Nieves said.
Disney said they plan to talk to with impacted employees as well as to the unions on the next steps for union-represented cast members.