- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

Most people would be happy to pocket an extra $1,000, but labor officials were downright grumpy after the Walt Disney Co. announced it would hand out cash bonuses in response to the Trump corporate tax cut.

Unite Here, a union affiliated with the AFl-CIO, pooh-poohed the $175 million package of bonuses and tuition funding, saying Disney should have done more.

“The $1,000 bonus for 125,000 domestic employees will cost Disney $125 million,” said Unite Here, a hospitality union representing 23,000 Disney workers in Orlando. “However, the estimated windfall from the Trump tax cuts is over $2 billion annually, leaving the remaining approximately $1,875,000,000 unshared with Cast Members.”

Unite Here, which is currently in contract negotiations with Disney as part of the six-union Service Trades Council Union, said the bonuses are “unrelated to ongoing wage negotiations and should be offered unconditionally and with no strings attached.”

Disney announced Tuesday that it would give one-time $1,000 bonuses to all U.S. full-time and hourly employees who have been with the company since Jan. 1, the day the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent went into effect.

The company also unveiled an education initiative for hourly employees aimed at covering their tuition costs for higher education and vocational training, starting the program with a $50 million investment and adding up to $25 million each year going forward.

“I have always believed that education is the key to opportunity; it opens doors and creates new possibilities,” said Disney CEO Robert A. Iger in a statement. “Matched with the $1,000 cash bonus, these initiatives will have both an immediate and long-term positive impact.”

Nearly 88,000 hourly workers would be eligible. The company already offers an educational reimbursement program for full-time employees.

Disney joined more than 100 corporations, including major companies like Apple, AT&T and Verizon, in sharing the expected tax-cut windfall with its employees.

Members of the Service Trades Council Union rejected a contract offer from Disney in December that included a 6 to 10 percent wage increase over two years for hourly workers.

“Unionized Cast Members in Orlando are bargaining for real raises that make a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of Central Floridians who live in poverty,” said Unite Here, which represents workers in food service, retail and theme parks.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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