ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Eastman Kodak on Friday handed out $239 million to its 85,000 U.S. employees in its annual wage dividend program--a bonus program that the company started in 1912.
More than half of the money--$158 million--was handed out to the 55,000 Kodak employees in the Rochester area, where "bonus day" is circled on retailers' and car dealers' calendars.
"They're talking about changing the bonus structure. So people may use it for a last big fling. That's sort of my attitude--why not?" said Kodak worker Shari Ryan, who is using her money for a trip to Disney World.
Kodak announced last month that a part of its cost-cutting plan would be to review the wage dividend program with an eye to linking it to company profits.
Since its inception 73 years ago, it has been tied to dividends paid to shareholders, which are generally more consistent than profits.
This year, each eligible employee is receiving roughly 2% of his total wages for the five-year period from 1981 to 1985, a company spokesman said.