LA Times Exposes Disney’s “Electronic Whip”

I didn’t pitch LA Times’ columnist Steve Lopez the “whip.” I invited him (on several occasions) to come to Anaheim to meet some Disneyland Resort hotel workers who have been struggling to hold on to family healthcare and prevent full-time jobs from becoming part-time.  The workers haven’t had a contract in four years.

I wanted Lopez to go to workers’ homes, hear their stories and meet their kids. His stripped-down story telling captures the human condition like no other.

And that’s what he did. He spent an hour at the Santa Ana home of Carmen Guzman, a Disneyland housekeeper-turned-hostess who suffered uterine cancer. He visited a young worker named Robert Cox who rents a room with a co-worker to make ends meet and waited in the rain for some laundry workers to finish their shifts.

While we waited, I mentioned the laundry workers’ frustration with a new monitoring system in the hotel laundry rooms. “They call it the ‘Electronic Whip,’” I told him, because it monitors every moment of their work loading pillow cases or sheets. If a worker slows down or goes to the bathroom, her production level falls. The flat-screen TV overhead displays her work speed, compared to other workers.

Steve Lopez has a good poker face. I gather he’s seen and heard a lot in his many years as a newspaperman. It has to be something really shocking to raise his eyebrows.

“I’d really like to see that ‘whip’,” he said. And I knew, I shocked Steve Lopez. The LA Times column that followed turned out to be one of the best pieces of earned media we’ve landed in this long, hard fight with Disney.

From Lopez' article:

In the basements of the Disneyland and Paradise Pier hotels in Anaheim, big flat-screen monitors hang from the walls in rooms where uniformed crews do laundry. The monitors are like scoreboards, with employees' work speeds compared to one another. Workers are listed by name, so their colleagues can see who is quickest at loading pillow cases, sheets and other items into a laundry machine….Isabel Barrera, a Disneyland Hotel laundry worker for eight years, began calling the new system the 'electronic whip' when it was installed last year. The name has stuck.

Read the full article here.

We don’t hold any belief that this article will solve the labor dispute at Disney. But at least for a moment, the exposé pushes back on a company that consistently puts profit over people. 

After reading Lopez’ article, please help us take action. Sign the petition demanding Disney stop cracking the whip.