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1,800-plus Aulani workers to get $1,000 bonuses

  • JAMM AQUINO / 2016

    Employees at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, will receive $1,000 bonuses as a result of December’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Disney characters pose during a news conference for the debut of new Disney characters at the resort. The new characters were Daisy Duck, Pluto and bears Duffy and ShelliMay. The resort was celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Walt Disney Co. is giving $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 employees and spending $50 million to create a new higher-education program for workers, the company said Tuesday.

The one-time cash bonuses are for full- and part-time nonexecutive employees in the United States who have been with the company since Jan. 1. More than 1,800 employees at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, will receive the bonuses.

The new education initiative, designed to cover tuition costs for hourly employees, will receive $25 million in annual funding going forward, Disney said in a statement.

The Burbank, Calif., entertainment giant is the latest major company to announce a plan to disburse money to employees in the wake of the December passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which includes a lower tax rate for corporations.

Since the sweeping bill was approved by Congress on Dec. 20, more than a dozen major companies, including AT&T, American Airlines and U.S. Bancorp, have announced $1,000 bonuses for employees. Some companies have announced other benefits, such as Fifth Third Bank and PNC Financial, both of which are boosting their minimum wages.

In announcing the bonuses and education initiative, Disney said the moves were tied to the new tax law.

Disney, which has about 200,000 employees, is making the higher-education program available to nearly 88,000 hourly workers. The company said participants can use the program to pursue higher education or vocational training — and the enrichment can be in fields unrelated to employees’ responsibilities at Disney.

Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger touted the bonuses and the new education program, which together represent $175 million in spending this fiscal year.

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

Disney said an existing educational reimbursement program that is available to all full-time employees will continue unaltered.

Walmart

More than 3,900 Walmart employees in Hawaii are going to share in a $1.5 million one-time cash bonus, a spokesman for the company said Monday.

The amount of the bonus will be based on length of service, with employees with at least 20 years qualifying for $1,000. It will be given to all eligible full- and part-time hourly workers. The average works out to about $385 a person.

In addition, Walmart is expanding its parental and maternity leave policy, providing full-time hourly associates in the U.S. with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried associates also will receive six weeks of paid parental leave.

The retailer said earlier this month that changes to its compensation and benefits policy will affect more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. The company employs 1.5 million people in the U.S.

Walmart also said it is boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers to $11 an hour starting next month. The company had raised its starting wage to $9 an hour in 2015, and said workers could go up to $10 an hour after completing an entry-level training program.

Walmart also will provide financial assistance to associates adopting a child. The adoption benefit, available to both full-time hourly and salaried associates, will total $5,000 per child and may be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.

Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. said it will give employees 50 shares of stock each, a $380 million bonus that the company said is the result of federal tax reform.

The share grant, which will vest over two years, will be available to all of the company’s employees, with the exception of about 2,500 senior executives, a Verizon spokesman said Tuesday. Part-time employees will get 25 shares.

With the stock currently trading at about $53, the award amounts to more than $2,600 per worker. Verizon employed 155,400 workers at the end of the fourth quarter with about 153,000 eligible for the grant, the company said.

Verizon also plans to increase its contributions to the Verizon Foundation by as much as $300 million over the next two years.

JPMorgan

JPMorgan announced Tuesday that it will boost wages, open new branches and hire thousands of new workers, citing improved economic performance and sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code.

Wages will rise to between $15 and $18 an hour from a range of $12 to $16.50 an hour, affecting 22,000 employees, the bank said. Chase also will open 400 new branches and hire 4,000 people in its new U.S. markets, housing and small-business divisions. Loans to customers seeking “affordable” homes will rise by 25 percent to $50 billion, and the bank will boost philanthropy by 40 percent, to $1.75 billion, over the next five years.

While JPMorgan Chase is the nation’s largest bank by deposits and assets, its branch network is found in only 23 states and it does not serve large markets such as Washington, D.C., or Boston. A major branch expansion likely will include going into these markets. The branch expansion will take place over the next five years in up to 20 new markets, the company said.

A bank adding branches is somewhat notable. Most banks have been closing or consolidating branches as more of their customers migrate to digital-only banking and rarely step foot inside a branch. Even JPMorgan has closed or consolidated branches since the financial crisis. But it is difficult for a bank to break into new geographic markets without at least a handful of branches, particularly in competitive metropolitan markets.

The bank also said, as an additional benefit to existing employees, it will reduce medical plan deductibles by $750 per year for employees making less than $60,000.


Star-Advertiser staff, The Associated Press and Bloomberg contributed to this wrap-up.


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