Employees from two Columbus companies, Aflac and TSYS, were among a handful of American workers who met Wednesday with President Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office during a promotion on the impact of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law just before Christmas.
The White House Media Affairs office noted beforehand that the gathering was taking place to promote the fact that more than 275 companies in the U.S. have announced bonuses, pay raises and expanded benefits as a result of the new tax law. That includes Aflac and TSYS. The legislation has lowered income tax rates in 2018 for small businesses and corporations.
William “Will” Harmon, manager of physical security at TSYS, was among the seven employees on hand for the event in Washington, D.C., which followed the president’s State of the Union address to members of Congress on Tuesday night. Harmon’s mother is Ann Sturgis, also a TSYS staffer who works with the credit-card and payment processor’s corporate security team.
“Ultimately, these new tax laws (are) really helping everyone out,” Harmon said in a transcript released later by the White House. “Like me personally, I was able to take some money from the bonus, put it aside for vacation — a much-needed vacation — that I plan on taking my family on this year.”
Also on hand inside the Oval Office was Michael Porter, a resource manager who works with the general counsel’s office at supplemental insurance firm Aflac. Porter, a husband and father of four whose wife is a nurse in Columbus, told the president that the 401(k) retirement enhancements and other benefits announced recently by Aflac were more than welcome to workers.
“What they’ve done with the tax cut and giving back to their employees and their 401(k)s is phenomenal, and it really gives my wife and I the ability to focus on our kids and not worry about what’s going on down the road. Retirement will come,” said Porter, who then handed Trump a pair of Aflac duck socks.
“Your chairman I know very well and he’s done a fantastic job,” Trump responded, referring to Aflac Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Amos. “He actually a long time ago hired my wife (Melania) to do a big commercial, an Aflac commercial, and I think it was a successful commercial, too. So say hello to him.”
TSYS announced recently that it was giving $1,000 bonuses to its workforce, while Aflac said it is increasing the company’s 401(k) match from 50 percent to 100 percent on the first 4 percent of employee contributions. Aflac also is making a one-time contribution of $500 to every employee’s 401(k) plan.
“This afternoon, the President will welcome workers from Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio, who represent some of these companies that have passed on the benefits of tax reform to their employees,” the media affairs office said.
Aflac spokesman Jon Sullivan, who traveled to the White House as well, said that the opportunity came about when U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, a Republican from Georgia, contacted the company about the event focusing on workers giving their reaction to the tax reform. Porter was chosen for the meeting.
“It’s because Michael’s a very dedicated Aflac employee, and we knew that he would represent the company very well,” Sullivan said.
Here’s a list from the White House of the other five employees scheduled to attend the presidential meeting and photo opportunity:
▪ John Anfinson (Woodbury County, Iowa), employed by Anfinson Farm Store, which awarded $1,000 bonuses and 5 percent pay raises to all full-time employees
▪ China Edwards (Independence, Missouri), employed by Bank Midwest, which awarded $500 bonuses for full-time employees and $250 bonuses for part-time employees
▪ Jessica Melendez (Cleveland, Ohio), employed by Jergens Inc., which doubled its wage tables by 2 percent
▪ Patrick Sobers (Arapahoe County, Colorado), employed by National Bank Holdings Corporation, which awarded $1,000 bonuses to all of its non-commissioned associates who earn a base salary of less than $50,000 annually
▪ Sue Wagner (Fort Collins, Colorado), employed by the Bank of Colorado, which provided $1,000 bonuses to all full-time associates