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Disney to give $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 employees and create a higher education program

Disney to give $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 employees and create a higher education program
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger said the bonuses and higher education initiative "will have both an immediate and long-term positive impact." (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

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 non-executive employees in the United States who have been with the company since Jan. 1.

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

The Burbank 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.

Twitter: @DanielNMiller

UPDATES:

12:55 p.m.: This article was updated to add that Disney said the bonuses and higher education initiative were tied to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

This article was originally published at 12:25 p.m.

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