The tax reform bonanza continues at Disney where 125,000 employees will get a one-time $1,000 cash bonus. More important though is that Disney is investing in the education and training of their workforce in a major way.
The Walt Disney Company announced that in addition to the bonuses, it would make an initial $50 million investment in a new and on-going education program to cover tuition costs for nearly 88,000 hourly employees.
In addition, Disney will provide up to $25 million in annual funding for education going forward.
Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger noted:
“I am proud we are directing approximately $125 million to our cast members and employees across the country and making higher education more accessible with the launch of this new program,” Mr. Iger said. “I have always believed that education is the key to opportunity; it opens doors and creates new possibilities. Matched with the $1,000 cash bonus, these initiatives will have both an immediate and long-term positive impact.”
The headlines focus on the generous bonuses, which will be a nice budget booster for the cast members and staff who bring Disney’s magic to life, but that is a one-time gift. The investment in the employees’ education and training will have far longer-lasting impacts.
Disney already has an educational reimbursement program that’s open to all full-time employees and that is not changing. This new initiative is on top of tuition reimbursement.
It allows the Prince Charmings and Jazmines along with other workers to pursue higher education or vocational training. The courses they take don’t need to be related to their current jobs or responsibilities either.
Companies like Disney recognize that tax savings should be reinvested in their business and their workers. We’ve seen employees get pay raises and bonuses as result of the Jobs and Tax Cut Act. And not just major companies like Apple and Walmart, but smaller companies as well. Despite the criticism that workers would not benefit from tax reform, companies are responding in a big way.
Disney’s announcement is even more outstanding because they are investing in the future of their workforce. Women comprise 52 percent of the Disney workforce, so these benefits will increase their paychecks when paid out, but also lift their career prospects, especially in an uncertain industry like entertainment.
Working in low-skilled, low-wage jobs is not the way achieve economic mobility. Performing as a Disney character is probably not be a life-long career either. However, these workers can now start to invest in a better future thanks to pro-worker tax policy.