Posted: September 4th, 2022

Exercising Ethical Influence

Scenario: In 2022, you will be eligible for tenure as a university professor in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies. One of the undergraduate courses you teach focuses on the critical analysis of how gender as a social construct informs our experiences and identities, the interrelationships between gender, sexualities, race, class, nation, and ability, and to connect such inquiry to issues within the local and global arenas. This is one of the most popular courses on campus. A major demonstration to address social injustices in various social settings including higher education is planned by numerous community organizers where the university is located. Your students want to play a major role in support of the event and have asked that you lead them in planning and organizing events to raise awareness on social injustices at the university. However, the university has not sanctioned its support for this event.

Write a 250- to 300-word response to the following:

· How would you exercise ethical influence to frame the moral value of this event for the university leadership?

· What leadership expectations does the university have of you?

· What competing frames of influence exist between students and university leaders’ expectations?

· Do any of the frames invoke moral values?

Read “Case Study 7.2: Don’t Mess with the Mouse: Labor Negotiations at Disney” on pp. 387-390 in Ch. 7 of
Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership:
Casting Light or Shadow.

Write a 250- to 300-word response to the following:

· Does the wide gap between the pay of low wage employees and Disney executives cast the shadow of privilege?

· Do you feel this gap is ethically justified? Why or why not?

· Should all workers be guaranteed a “living wage”? Why or why not?

· How might this scenario relate to learning organizations?

CASE STUDY 7.2DON’T MESS WITH THE MOUSE: LABOR NEGOTIATIONS AT DISNEYDisney employees were excited to learn that they would be getting a $1,000 bonus after the federal government lowered the tax rate for major corporations. The Disney company announced that it would give a portion of a $1.6 billion tax windfall to 125,000 nonmanagement workers. The excitement was short-lived, however, for the company’s union employees. Disney officials threatened to withhold the bonus unless members of the Service Trades Council Union representing housekeepers, kitchen staff, shop clerks, and other low-wage employees ratified the company’s latest contract offer. Ninety-three percent of the union membership had previously rejected the contract proposal, which called for a 50-cent an hour raise over two years with a $200 bonus.Union leaders cried foul, claiming that the company was engaged in “extortion,” punishing members who had voted against the contract proposal. The union representing employees at Disneyland Resort filed a complaint under the National Labor Relations Act, alleging that Disney was withdrawing the bonus as a threat against workers. For its part, Disney claimed that the bonus should be included as part of any settlement.Those familiar with Disney’s history shouldn’t be surprised by the latest labor unrest. In 1941, Disney cartoonists and illustrators went on strike, unionizing and asking for higher wages. Walt and Roy Disney retaliated, threatening workers and firing head animators. Later Walt would use the House Un-American Activities Committee as a platform to condemn the strikers as Communists. In 2008, visitors to Disney parks were greeted by union protestors dressed as Snow White, Tinkerbell, and other Disney figures holding picket signs. In 2017, the company was forced to pay 16,000 Florida employees $3.8 million in back wages for illegally charging them for costumes. Lawsuits by laid off technology employees claim that Disney illegally replaced them with foreign workers.While labor conflict is nothing new to the home of Mickey Mouse, recent negotiations were particularly tense. That’s because the company took a hard-line stance even as corporate profits and executive salaries soared. Of the company’s recent $10.7 billion profit, $2.2 billion came from its theme parks. (Disney raised prices on daily and multiday ticket packages to its properties.) Disney CEO Robert Iger made $43.9 million, chief operating officer Tom Staggs received $15.6 million, and chief financial officer Christine McCarthy took home $10.2 million.In addition to holding public protests and sponsoring a rally featuring Bernie Sanders, union leaders commissioned a report by researchers at Occidental College. The investigators found that most union employees have been unable to keep up with soaring housing costs in Orange County, California, where Disney is the largest employer. Eighty-five percent earn less than $12 an hour, which puts them below the poverty line for a family of four. Many are homeless, living out of their cars or at the homes of friends and relatives. Three quarters say that they do not earn enough to meet basic expenses. Sixty percent said the food they bought didn’t last the month. According to the authors of the report,The Walt Disney Company promotes Disneyland Resort as the “happiest place on earth.” But for many of the approximately 30,000 people who work there, it is not the happiest place to work. Despite steep increases in the cost of housing and other necessities, Disneyland workers have suffered steady pay cuts and are struggling to make ends meet.Spurred by the report’s findings, Disney labor leaders in Anaheim placed a “living wage” initiative on the ballot, which proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 and then $18 an hour for hospitality companies receiving a city tax subsidy. Disney settled with the Disney World and Disneyland unions before the initiative came to a vote. Disney boosted starting wages to $15 an hour at both theme parks and guaranteed future raises over the life of the contract. The living wage ballot measure then passed by a comfortable margin. The head of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce called the ballot result a “tragic outcome” that would drive away future hospitality projects, costing jobs. A union spokesperson called his claim “laughable.”

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