Koch-Tied Firm Conducts Mass Layoffs After Trump “Job Creating” Tax Cut Bill

Last year, Koch Industries was the second largest, privately held company in the United States. This year it will be the largest; with its acquisition of glassmaker, Guardian Industries, its revenue will surpass agricultural giant Cargill for the number one spot.

Trump’s first year in office has been marked by almost a complete lack of major legislation. The exception was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the massive corporate tax bill sold to the public as a job creation measure. The bill permanently dropped the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent and temporarily implemented modest tax relief for the middle class.

The Koch brothers made securing the massive tax cuts for themselves and their corporation their top priority for their sprawling political network in 2017, as internal documents revealed. The Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity astroturf group lobbied hard for the bill and spent some $20 million on ads spinning the bill and pressuring recalcitrant politicians.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said the tax plan is “about to ignite a new era of growth, and we’re going to make sure that Americans understand how they and their community stand to benefit.”

But as the Center for Media and Democracy reported last week, many companies simply pocketed the cash. Instead of creating jobs, they created layoffs. CMD detailed nine American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) companies that implemented layoffs, and ALEC’s private sector board chair, Koch Industries, is no exception.

RAKING IN THE KOCH CASH, LAYING OFF MORE WORKERS

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Koch Industries is a privately held company, but it is expected to rake in between $1 billion and $1.4 billion a year due to the tax cuts.

Last year, the Koch brothers made a $650 million investment in Meredith Corp. to help the publishing giant complete its purchase of Time magazine. Now Meredith is announcing the layoff of 1,200 employees for 2018, with cuts at TimeSports IllustratedMoney, and other subsidiaries, along with closing its office center in Tampa, laying off 500 employees.

Other Koch subsidiaries have announced layoffs as well:

  • In November, already knowing there would be some tax cuts, Koch announced that its Georgia-Pacific facility in Camas, Washington, operating for 134 years, would close with the loss of 300 jobs. Koch bought the paper and pulp company in 2005.
  • In April, Koch announced it would cut 25 jobs from its gypsum plant in Marysville, Kansas. A Koch spokesperson, Julie Davis, who apparently got to keep her job, said, “This is no reflection on the employees. When the market improves we’d certainly encourage those folks to come back.” She did not say when that would happen.
  • Invista, Koch’s fiber company, laid off 52 employees at its Athens, Georgia, plant ten days before Congress passed the tax cut bill.

The estimated $1 billion in tax cuts for Koch this year surely could have covered the cost of keeping some of these workers as the company goes through a temporary downturn in sales of some of its products.

Mary Bottari contributed to this article. 

Don Wiener

Don Wiener is a contributor to the Center for Media and Democracy. Don has 40 years experience working as a policy analyst, researcher, media strategist, and coalition coordinator for dozens of community, public interest, labor, and environmental groups. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.