ObamaCare Cuts To Hours, Jobs Expand

Investor's Business Daily

IBD's list of employers that have cut work hours or adopted other labor policies to limit ObamaCare liability has expanded to 319.

The updated list now includes 250 public-sector employers and 50 employers based in Indiana.

IBD's effort to document the impact of ObamaCare's employer mandate on modest-wage workers is getting a helping hand from people who have felt or seen up close the sting of cuts.

The information includes reports of work-hour reductions at Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army.

IBD got no response from the divisions where reports of reduced hours emerged — Goodwill Industries of East Texas and Sacramento Valley/Northern Nevada and Salvation Army's Eastern Michigan Division.

A Salvation Army spokesman said each of its 40 divisions across the country "makes most of its own operational decisions." Goodwill's structure appears similar.

IBD isn't adding Goodwill or Salvation Army to its ObamaCare Employer Mandate List Of Cuts To Hours, Jobs because of the lack of conclusive evidence of systematic cuts across entire divisions. But the reports are credible and consistent with the shrinking workweek at used merchandise stores.

More broadly, the workweek has fallen to a record low in industries where the pay of nonsupervisors averages up to about $14.50 an hour. It is clear that modest-wage workers have the most to fear from the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate.

Doing Harm To Doing Good

Now, we have examples of organizations synonymous with doing good apparently being compelled to act in ways that do harm to their own workers.

The risk is that this becomes a trend. IBD's ObamaCare employment impact list already includes the LDS Church-owned Deseret Industries, which operates thrift stores that train war refugees for lasting employment.

The list's seven new additions include Cabela's (CAB); Worldwide TechServices; Davis School District in Utah; Eastern Florida State College; and three Indiana school districts (School City of Mishawaka, Shelby Eastern Schools and Southwestern Consolidated School District).

They include three employers whose work-hour cuts have apparently gone unreported. In each case, current or former employ ees provided official documents to back up their claims.

Cabela's, whose 42 U.S. retail stores sell hunting, fishing and camping gear, cut part-time workers to a maximum of 28 hours per week. A notice to employees informed them that the change was due to health care reform: "the definition of part-time em ployment is changing to less than an average of 30 hours per week.

First Tech Firm On List

Worldwide TechServices of Tewksbury, Mass., is the first technology firm on IBD's list. It cut the hours of field service technicians to a maximum of 29 per week at the end of 2012. The technicians do low-margin contract warranty repairs for firms such as Dell (DELL) and Lenovo.

After July's employer mandate delay, the company temporarily lifted the cap on hours worked.

Davis School District in Farmington, Utah, cut hours of part-time support staff such as bus drivers to 29.5 hours a week, starting this December. In a memo to employees, officials blamed "the potential costs that would be incurred as a result of the ACA mandate to provide insurance for any employee that works 30 hours or more per week.

IBD is removing Wal-Mart (WMT) from the list, after it set plans to lift 35,000 part-time workers to full-time status. It's no longer clear that Wal-Mart is systematically altering its labor model to avoid ObamaCare's mandate.

As IBD noted this week, the negative impact of the employer mandate won't only show up in fewer hours worked. It also will hurt the operation of the health insurance exchanges.

Another way of dodging the mandate is to offer employees inexpensive skinny" plans that don't cover hospitalization or surgery, but are cheap enough that they might appear like a good deal relative to exchange policies.

As promotional efforts ramp up to get the young and healthy to enroll, businesses aiming to hold the line on health expenses will be giving many of them a reason to opt out.

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