Most Republicans are pretty amazing. They want low road employers to either outsource jobs or pay low wages with no benefits at the jobs they keep here. Republican CEOs are always looking for ways to make you work harder making them rich and refuse to share the profits with their employees. Then when the government does something like attempting to give their employees health insurance so the costs aren't passed on to other Americans they whine and try to gin up fear. Then when their actions come to light, they attempt to take away your first amendment rights.
Such is the case with "Papa John" Schnatter. He caused a firestorm whining about the costs of healthcare in August and November of last year. It all started with this:
According to "Papa" John Schnatter, the cost of providing health insurance for all of his pizza chain's uninsured, full-time employees comes out to about 14 cents on a large pizza. That's less than adding an extra topping and a third the price of an extra pepperoncini. If you want that piping hot pie delivered, the $2 delivery fee will cost you 14 times as much as that health insurance price hike.
"We're not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry," Schnatter said on a conference call with shareholders last week, as reported by Politico. "If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders' best interests."
Of course a millionaire, low-road employer who paid $250,000 to find his old car, has a sprawling mansion here in Kentucky and can give away two million pizzas for an NFL promo who already pays horrible wages and no benefits and charges a delivery charge not even given to the drivers who incur all the costs of delivery making such claims caused a firestorm.
In November, poor John Schnatter went onto the Huffington Post to whine that he was a "victim" and his greed was simply "misunderstood":
Reading what has been written about statements I made on the effect of the Affordable Care Act on our franchisees reminds me of a quote from Lewis H. Lapham, former editor of Harper's magazine: "People may expect too much of journalism. Not only do they expect it to be entertaining, they expect it to be true."
Many in the media reported that I said Papa John's is going to close stores and cut jobs because of Obamacare. I never said that. The fact is we are going to open over hundreds of stores this year and next and increase employment by over 5,000 jobs worldwide. And, we have no plans to cut team hours as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
Companies like Papa John's are largely a collection of small independent businesses. The average Papa John's franchisee owns three to four stores. Since our franchisees own the restaurants they operate, who they hire, how many hours they give each employee and what they pay each employee is up to them, not me or Papa John's. Like any small business in these economic times, our franchisees are under a tremendous amount of pressure on costs.
Gee, John. We are all broke up about the "pressures" on you and your franchisees. They send their drivers out daily in one of the most dangerous jobs in America and will not offer healthcare. They did not give them their last minimum wage increase and charge a delivery fee on their labors that they pocket. They make millions of dollars off their workers and customers and pass the costs of their healthcare onto everyone else while paying low wages that keep them near poverty forcing them to need government assistance, you know things like food stamps that folks like Schnatter believe should be done away with.
Does anyone really believe that Schnatter has no power to change this? He cannot ask his franchisees to pay more or offer healthcare? He cannot set an example by doing away with the delivery fee across the board, a fee that not only steals tips from his drivers but steals from his customers too as owners pocket costs they do not incur?
Now that his comments have caused a firestorm what does he do? Does he try to change his dishonest practices or try to make things easier on his workers by dropping the delivery charge, offering healthcare or raising his drivers to minimum wage so they can pay for the gas and damage to their vehicles? No, he hires a public relations firm to try and pressure folks like me to keep our mouths shut about his greed:
Papa John's public relations firm has been tracking down bloggers who write posts about the pizza mogul's comments on Obamacare for months and asking them to correct or remove their posts.
The national crisis PR firm Sitrick and Co. targets bloggers who have written about Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter saying that because of Obamacare, pizzas would have to go up in price about 11-14 cents and individual franchises would have to close stores and cut jobs. Schnatter did not make either of those claims, Sitrick and Co. chair Mike Sitrick says.
And of course while they went after small time bloggers they refused to have the guts to take on an organization with as much money and clout as they do, CNN:
The PR firm hasn't had to send out too many requests since the op-ed ran, Sitrick said, but did reach out to one website last week. Blogger Will Stabley wrote an article about an Aug. 9, 2012 segment on CNN called "Fact-checking Papa John's CEO." The piece concluded that Schnatter's estimate "came out of the oven a little bit too soon" and said the pizza increase claim was false. Stabley picked up on the clip on Jan. 25, writing an item headlined "CNN confirms Papa John's CEO John Schnatter was lying about ObamaCare price increases."
"It's interesting that Papa John's went after Stabley Times for relaying what CNN reported, but never went after CNN for the original report," Stabley wrote in an email. "Of course they claim to have 'somehow missed' the CNN story."
So, for your viewing pleasure here is the CNN report:
And another fact? Despite the whining and gnashing of teeth greedy low-road employers like "Papa" John they do not have that much to worry about. They for the most part can continue to fleece their employees and costumers:
Under the Affordable Care Act, the principle is different, and much less onerous: Employers don't need to offer health care, and they don't need to pay for most of the cost of their employee's health care, but if their employees are taking advantage of public subsidies, then the employer should have to pay a penalty equal to about 1/8th the cost of the average employer-provided health-insurance plan.
The health-reform law won't reverse that trend, but for the businesses that are doing the most to drive it - the ones that have cut costs and boosted profits by paying their workers very little and refusing to offer them decent health insurance - the Affordable Care Act will force them to contribute a bit more toward their workers' health care or raise their prices. And if they choose the latter route, then fine: It levels the playing field between them and their competitors who haven't taken a low-road approach to paying their workers. That gives pizza companies that do pay their employees well a slightly better position in the marketplace than they have today.
That won't make Papa John's feel better, and it shouldn't. The Affordable Care Act isn't helpful to their business strategy. Rather, it's helpful to the business strategies of companies that have sought success by paying their workers good wages, giving them reasonable benefits, and delivering a higher quality product. Which should make us feel better.
Still, Papa John's can comfort itself with the knowledge that it is not being asked to do nearly as much as Presidents Clinton or Nixon wanted it to do. It doesn't have to give its employees health care or pay them well. It just has to pay a small fraction of the cost that the public will pay to insure its employees. It's not as good of a deal as the status quo, but it's a better deal than it could have expected, or than it probably deserved.
And indeed at the end of the day Schnatter has little to worry about. While his employees work hard and risk their lives to live at or just above the poverty level he still has this to go home to every day:
But for folks like him it is never enough. His workers and costumers are nothing but dollar signs to him, folks to be exploited as he rubs elbows with Peyton Manning and chases down the car he drove when he was a teenager.
Indeed this man represents all that is wrong with America. A very few people that have exploited everyone, especially their workers and whine like children when asked to foot some of the bills their greed has caused.
And before Mike Sitrick considers contacting me and asking me to give up my first amendment rights to call out greedy CEOs like "Papa John" Schnatter I have one simple message for him and the CEO who hired him: