Disney Slashing 4,000 Jobs

Blaming a softening economic environment, the Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that it will eliminate 4,000 full-time jobs, or 3% of its work force, by the end of July. The move marks the biggest single staff reduction in Disney’s history.

The job cuts will take place across all business units, including ABC, the film studio, cable channels and the corporate division of the company, Disney said. However, the tens of thousands of employees who work in union positions and guest services — most of whom work at the company’s theme parks, resorts and retail businesses — won’t be affected. Disney has about 120,000 employees worldwide.

The cuts will be implemented through a voluntary program at first but might become mandatory if not enough employees choose to accept the severance packages. It will be up to individual department heads to decide where the job cuts will originate.

The move comes about six weeks after Disney separately slashed about 500 jobs from its Internet group as part of its decision to close its Go.com portal (HR 1/30). Disney employees were informed of the latest cuts Tuesday in a joint memo from chairman Michael Eisner and president Robert Iger. “Despite our progress, the economy has become more challenging in recent months, and we must continue to seek ways to manage our businesses even more productively,” they said in the memo.