Florida Restaurant Chain Not Happy About ACA, Makes Ass of Itself

In Depth

What’s a small (not that small) business to do when they’re unhappy with being forced to actually give semi-kind-of-maybe-decent-ish health coverage to their employees? Do they publicly make a stand against the ACA? Find every loophole they can to avoid having to conform to it? Give up and accept that maybe it’s time to get their minds out of a 19th century robber baron mindset when it comes to the value of their employees?

If that small business is enterprising Florida sports bar chain Gator’s Dockside, apparently the solution is to implement a 1% ACA surcharge on all their checks, which might make sense if not for the fact that the employer mandate for the ACA doesn’t actually go into effect until 2015. OOPSIES!

It’s hard to see how they thought this type of political grandstanding wasn’t going to backfire. First, how did they not think people would notice that they’re outsourcing a cost they’re not currently even paying to their customers, and second, what kind of a soulless collectivist monster does any customer have to be to be unwilling to shell out an extra 11 cents on a fish sandwich in order to ensure that the restaurant’s employees don’t have to lie awake at night scared of what’s going to happen if they slip on some fallen ranch dressing and break an ankle?

It also isn’t that surprising that a lot of the businesses freaking the hell out over the ACA are in the food service industry, a field with a long, long, LOOOOOOOOONG history of horribly abusing/overworking/manipulating/outright cheating its employees. There’s Papa John’s founder and congealed glue-on-cardboard purveyor John Schnatter talking about having to charge $0.14 more per pizza (something that the majority of Americans seemed pretty OK with, if only it wasn’t for pizza as fucking awful as Papa John’s), of course, but also Jimmy John’s founder Jimmy John Liauauautauauauauauad (nailed it!) claiming that the ACA would cost them $0.50 more per sandwich (come on, plutocrats, at least get your numbers straight!). That second link in particular is a gold mine for restaurant-industry health care shenanigans, as it also lists efforts to cut all or most full-time employees down to 28-hour part-time status by Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden and Red Lobster), CKE Restaurants (Hardee’s), New York Area Applebee’s, and Treadwell Enterprises (a whole crapload of different restaurants). In fact, of the ten companies listed as attempting to circumvent Obamacare there, a full seven of them are in the restaurant industry. And of course there’s Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who invoked Godwin’s Law in real life by comparing the ACA to fascism.

These industries have a long-established history of treating their employees with about the same regard as the disposable paper goods in their bathrooms, so none of this is surprising. Still, though, the fact that they (at least to an extent) can get away with it — and the fact that we even have to have this debate about health coverage as a privilege rather than a fundamental right — is why our health care system is an international laughingstock.

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