Hostess hands out phony tax bill bonuses with a twist

Let them eat Twinkies.

Credit: (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Credit: (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hostess Brands, Inc. is the latest corporation to deliver bonuses to workers as a result of the GOP tax bill.

The company, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, announced on Thursday that it is giving employees a one-time bonus of $1,250, with $750 of that in cash and $500 in the form of a 401(k) contribution. In a borderline on-the-nose move, Hostess is also giving employees one free multibox of snacks per week in addition to the small bonus. (Let them eat cake, right?)

The employee perks are a relative bright spot in an otherwise painful history for Hostess’ workforce. After the company filed for bankruptcy and briefly shut down in 2012, automation forced the workforce to dwindle to 1,036 — down from a previous workforce of about 8,000.

Hostess Executive Chairman C. Dean Metropoulos told Bloomberg that the recently passed tax legislation was the driving force behind the company’s decision to invest in its employees.


“The recent tax reform changes have given us the opportunity to review our benefit and compensation structure,” he said in a statement. “The company’s management and board take great pleasure in sharing the company’s success with our employees.”

But as ThinkProgress previously reported, when it comes to big businesses shelling out cash as a result of the tax bill, there’s more to the story than executives are willing to admit.

A number of companies, including Wells Fargo, Boeing, AT&T, and Comcast, have all announced similar bonuses for their employees in recent days, with most handing out lump sums of around $1,000 per person. While the numbers may appear promising, corporations are actually spending less than one percent of their tax windfall on bonuses for employees.

Additionally, those one-time bonuses do little to actually help workers in an economy where wages have remained stagnant for years, despite a four percent unemployment rate. If corporate executives truly wanted to help their employees, they would focus on wages instead.

Those facts have done little to dissuade President Donald Trump from using the corporate announcements to bolster his own image. The president highlighted the bonuses in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, taking credit for what he calls the “new American moment.”


“Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands of dollars per worker,” Trump bragged. “Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers. This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.”