Mad at Obama, Papa John’s Will Cut Hours To Rob Employees of Healthcare

Sarah Cobarrubias

Papa John's CEO John Schnatter first threatened to raise pizza prices to offset costs related to healthcare reform. Now he intends to pass those costs onto his employees. (Denise Krebs / Flickr / Creative Commons).
Papa John’s CEO John Schnat­ter is angry about Oba­macare, and he’s tak­ing it out on his employ­ees. The health­care reform law man­dates that, by 2014, employ­ees who work more than 30 hours per week at com­pa­nies with more than 50 work­ers must be cov­ered by their employer’s health insur­ance plan. In light of Obama’s re-elec­tion, the piz­za mag­nate announced that he will cut work­ers’ hours in order to cre­ate a part-time work­force and dodge the cost of pro­vid­ing health­care coverage.
Papa John’s is the third-largest piz­za chain in the nation with about 16,500 employ­ees, but the com­pa­ny cur­rent­ly only pro­vides health­care cov­er­age to one third of its work­ers. Schnat­ter claims he wish­es all of his employ­ees could be on the com­pa­ny’s health­care plan, but that ris­ing health insur­ance costs are pro­hib­i­tive. He tells ABC Action News, The good news is 100 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion is going to have health insur­ance. We’re all going to pay for it.”Schnat­ter, who was a sup­port­er of Mitt Rom­ney and helped raise funds for the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, start­ed voic­ing his oppo­si­tion to the Afford­able Care Act in the months lead­ing up to the elec­tion. In August, he com­plained that the reform would cost his com­pa­ny 11 – 14 cents per piz­za or 15 – 20 cents per order (though Forbes cal­cu­lates the actu­al cost would be 3.44.6 cents per piz­za) and that Papa John’s would pass those costs onto cus­tomers by rais­ing piz­za prices.To many, rais­ing piz­za prices seems like a more rea­son­able approach to off­set­ting some of the costs of health­care reform than cut­ting employ­ees’ hours. The pub­lic response has been large­ly, “I’d pay an extra 14 cents per piz­za for your employ­ees to have health­care.” Many have pro­posed boy­cotting the com­pa­ny, such as Red­dit user gofor­Reaper:I haven’t had a Papa John’s piz­za in months since he first claimed that Oba­macare would cause him to raise prices—and I assure you, all of my cheap piz­za needs have been ful­filled by oth­er, equal­ly shit­ty estab­lish­ments. Red­dit, let’s send him a mes­sage and stop buy­ing his piz­za. His employ­ees deserve decent wages and access to health­care, and if he does­n’t think so, he can sit with the rest of the Rom­ney camp and cir­cle jerk about how tough their lives are!It seems Papa John’s is like­ly to lose more mon­ey from the neg­a­tive pub­lic response than from the health­care reform—Forbes reports that that the company’s shares have dropped 4.2% between Thurs­day and Mon­day. But such boy­cotting risks fur­ther harm­ing these work­ers it aims to defend, as Medi­aite points out:The prob­lem with boy­cotting Papa John’s (aside from the fact that it’s hard to refuse to buy piz­za from a chain you already don’t buy piz­za from) is that it actu­al­ly hurts the employ­ees on whose behalf we’re all out­raged. A far bet­ter solu­tion would be to send a check for $0.14 to John Schnat­ter every time you buy a piz­za. Con­cerned cit­i­zens could also orga­nize a Tip­cott™, where­in they order the cheap­est thing on the Papa John’s menu, then give the dri­ver, like, a 100% tip.On the oth­er end of the spec­trum, some have declared strong sup­port for Papa John’s and are try­ing to use the issue to spark a move­ment in oppo­si­tion of the health­care reform law. In fact, @Reboot_USA start­ed a Face­book cam­paign declar­ing Nov. 16 Nation­al Papa John’s Appre­ci­a­tion Day, on which Papa John’s sup­port­ers vis­it their local Papa John’s and order a piz­za to stand against the “fis­cal night­mare” that is Obamacare.
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