Tax reform rewards: JetBlue joins Southwest Airlines, others in giving bonuses to workers


Some of America’s biggest companies are launching new initiatives to benefit employees after the GOP-led House of Representatives approved the largest tax reform bill in three decades last month.

The $1.5 trillion tax bill reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and changes the way the U.S. government taxes companies that also operate internationally. The new plan, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump by January at the latest, is being hailed as a major victory for corporations and wealthy Americans.

FOX Business breaks down how employees at some major companies are benefitting from the corporate world’s good fortune.

AT&T

The telecom giant said Wednesday that more than 200,000 of its employees, including union-represented and non-management workers, will be eligible for a $1,000 bonus. The checks will be in the mail in time for the holidays if Trump finalizes the tax bill with his signature before Christmas. AT&T ( T) also said it will invest $1 billion more than expected in the U.S. in 2018, once the cuts are final.

“Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. “This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs.”

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Boeing

The aerospace and defense company immediately announced $300 million in investments after the bill passed, with $100 million toward corporate giving including employee gift-match programs, $100 million toward workforce development, training and education and $100 million toward enhancing Boeing’s workplaces.

“On behalf of all of our stakeholders, we applaud and thank Congress and the administration for their leadership in seizing this opportunity to unleash economic energy in the United States,” Boeing ( BA) President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement. “It’s the single-most important thing we can do to drive innovation, support quality jobs and accelerate capital investment in our country.”

Comcast

The Philadelphia-based telecom corporation said it would award $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 non-executive employees. In addition, Comcast ( CMCSA) NBC Universal Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said the company plans to spend more than $50 billion in the next five years on infrastructure investments that are expected to create “thousands of new direct and indirect jobs.”

In a press release, Comcast said the initiatives were “based on the passage of tax reform and the FCC’s action on broadband.”

Fifth Third Bancorp

The Cincinnati-based banking corporation said it would raise the minimum hourly wage for all employees to $15 per hour and dispense $1,000 bonuses for more than 13,500 workers. The company says tax reform was directly responsible for the initiatives.

“It is good for our communities, employees and Fifth Third Bank ( FITB),” Fifth Third President and CEO Greg Carmichael said.

JetBlue

The New York-based airline said on Jan. 4 that it would grant a $1,000 to each of its 21,000 crewmembers, with the exception of its CEO and other executives.

“We believe these tax changes will be positive for our company, and provide us the opportunity to do good things for our crewmembers, customers and shareholders,” JetBlue President and CEO Robin Hayes said in a letter to company employees.

Southwest Airlines

The Dallas-based airline is awarding a $1,000 cash bonus to all of its full-time and part-time employees. The bonuses will be distributed on Jan. 8. In addition, Southwest said it will donate $5 million toward charitable causes and partner with Boeing to modernize its fleet of planes.

“We applaud Congress and the President for taking this action to pass legislation, which will result in meaningful corporate income tax reform for the transportation sector in general, and for Southwest Airlines, in particular,” Southwest Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said in a statement. “We are excited about the savings and additional capital, which we intend to put to work in several forms-to reward our hard-working employees, to reinvest in our business, to reward our shareholders, and to keep our costs and fares low for our Customers.”

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank, is distributing $1,000 bonuses to roughly 60,000 of its employees and raising minimum wage for hourly workers to $15 per hour. The Minneapolis-based company is also donating $150 million to the U.S. Bank Foundation, upgrading health care packages for its employees and investing in better customer service capabilities.

“We believe that tax reform is positive for the U.S. economy because it provides an immediate opportunity to benefit our employees, our communities and our customers,” said Andy Cecere, U.S. Bank’s president and CEO. “We are proud of our people and their commitment to our customers and communities. We felt it was important to reward their hard work and dedication with this special bonus, the minimum wage increase and the health care enhancements.”

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company ( WFC) said it would raise the minimum wage for its team members to $15 per hour and earmark $400 million for philanthropic initiatives in 2018. Some $100 million of that total will be committed to boosting small businesses, while $75 million will support neighborhood revitalization efforts.

“We believe tax reform is good for our U.S. economy and are pleased to take these immediate steps to invest in our team members, communities, small businesses, and homeowners,” said Wells Fargo President and CEO Tim Sloan. “We look forward to identifying additional opportunities for Wells Fargo to invest, as we continue to execute our business strategies and provide long-term value to all our stakeholders.”



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