Nation's biggest movie theater chain cuts workweek, blaming ObamaCare
Author: Perry Chiaramonte
Publication: Fox News
The nation’s largest movie theater chain has cut the hours of thousands of employees, saying in a company memo that ObamaCare requirements are to blame.
Regal Entertainment Group, which operates more than 500 theaters in 38 states, last month rolled back shifts for non-salaried workers to 30 hours per week, putting them under the threshold at which employers are required to provide health insurance. The Nashville-based company said in a letter to managers that the move was a direct result of ObamaCare.
“In addition, some managers have requested guidance on what they should tell those employees negatively impacted and, at your discretion, we suggest the following,” read the memo obtained by FoxNews.com. “To comply with the Affordable Care Act, Regal had to increase our health care budget to cover those newly deemed eligible based on the law’s definition of a full-time employee.”
“To manage this budget, all other employees will be scheduled in accord with business needs and in a manner that will not negatively impact our health care budget,” the message continues.
Regal, which had revenue of $2.8 billion in 2011, is the latest company to respond this way to the Affordable Health Care Act’s requirement that employees at companies of a certain size who work more than 30 hours per week be provided health coverage. Applebee’s and Olive Garden also scaled back the hours of workers. A handful of colleges have cut hours because of the law, including Palm Beach State College in Florida and New Jersey’s Kean University. Critics say the law is boomeranging on working folks.
“If you want to have reduced work, lower wages and economic stagnation, this is a great way to do it, said Ed Haislmaier, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
One Regal theater manager told FoxNews.com the move has sparked a wave of resignations from full-time managers who have seen their hours cut by 25 percent or more.
“In the last couple weeks, managers have been quitting on a daily basis from various locations to try and find full-time work,” said the manager, who asked not to be named. “Regal up until now has never restricted anyone to anything below 40 hours.”
The manager told FoxNews.com ObamaCare has had the unintended consequence of taking food off his table.
“Mandating businesses to offer health care under threat of debilitating fines does not fix a problem, it creates one,” he said. “It fosters a new business culture where 30 hours is now considered the maximum in order to avoid paying the high costs associated with this law.
“In a time where 40 hours is just getting us by, putting these kind of financial pressures on employers is a big step in a direction far beyond the reach of feasibility for not only the businesses, but for the employees who rely on their success,” he said.
Regal, which operates cinemas under the names Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and United Artists Theaters and recently purchased Oregon-based Hollywood Theaters for $191 million, did not respond to repeated requests for comment from FoxNews.com. The publicly-traded company’s stock has risen nearly 30 percent over the last year.
In addition to the movie theater chain and several restaurants, the state of Virginia also rolled back the hours of all part-time employees back to 29 per week in February, with officials from the state claiming that the new mandate would cost the state tens of millions of dollars a year.