Disney cuts jobs at parks in U.S.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Walt Disney Co. said Friday it had cut 1,900 positions at its U.S. theme parks as part of an earlier announced reorganization, representing about 11 percent of salaried employees in the division.

About 1,200 people were laid off and 700 open positions will be left unfilled in the second phase of a reorganization begun in 2005 and accelerated by the recession.

“These decisions were not made lightly, but are essential to maintaining our leadership in family tourism and reflect today’s economic realities,” said Disney spokeswoman Tasia Filippatos.

The latest reorganization, designed to further unify two units operating separately at parks in Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., was announced in February, but new leadership put in place took time to determine what cutbacks were necessary.

The vast majority of the cuts came from managerial and other salaried staff, not from employees in the parks who interact with park visitors. Further reductions are planned.

Among other companies announcing layoffs Friday:

c FedEx Corp. laid off 1,000 employees to meet job cuts the package delivery company announced were coming after third-quarter earnings dropped 75 percent.

FedEx said half of the dismissed workers - all of whom were salaried or management employees - were employed in Memphis, Tenn., where the corporation and its largest operating unit, FedEx Express, have headquarters.

Before the cuts, FedEx Corp. had about 33,000 employees in the Memphis area and 290,000 workers worldwide.

Spokesman Jess Bunn said the cuts affect all of the corporation’s operating units, which include its cargo airline and trucking divisions.

c Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. laid off 480 employees and contractors across the country in the latest round of job cuts from the insurance giant.

Nationwide has eliminated about 3,000 jobs over the past two years. The Columbus, Ohio, company lost $342 million last year as the industry dealt with claims from an unusually high number of hurricanes and a sharp drop in investment returns.

The cuts came from Nationwide’s information technology group and included 230 employees, with about 150 of those in central Ohio. About 250 of the 480 people laid off were third-party contractors.

c Caterpillar said Friday it is speeding up layoff plans at a central Illinois plant, letting go more than 1,000 workers two weeks early with pay. The Peoria, Ill., heavy equipment manufacturer started sending workers home from its Decatur plant on Thursday. The company had planned to keep them on through April 13.

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