This week we were informed that if we were currently enrolled in our insurance program and worked less than an average of 30 hours per week our premiums were increasing, BUT we would be allowed to maintain our coverage. IF you work less than an average of 30 hours a week and did NOT currently have insurance you would not be eligible. This is a big change over the old policy. Although a few people at work bitched about the increase in our premiums not much else was said.
This email arrived today from a co-worker:
Hey everyone – so as you all know, our health insurance plans have
changed drastically. For many who TRIED to sign up, you couldn’t
because you needed 30 hrs/week average. For those ALREADY with health
insurance, here’s something you DON’T know… your rates go up A LOT
if you stay between 19-30 hours, but if you start averaging OVER 30
hours, you can’t slip beneath that 30 hr/week mark or you lose your
insurance all together! This means you have to average 19-30 hours a
week permanently OR stay at 30+ hrs/week permanently!
These are ridiculous new insurance policies that are being attributed
to Obama’s health plan. This is NOT Obama, this is our restaurant We
write our health insurance checks to “_______________.”
So what can we do?
There’s only one thing we can do… call corporate and complain. Now
this seems like a really useless thing to even try and do, but I think
that if we can pool all our contacts from our stores all over the country,
we might be able to make a big enough stink to NEGOTIATE these
policies. We should not have to worry about losing our benefits
simply because our corporation doesn’t want to pay.
Everyone who has ever worked at any of our other stores would have to call and
email their buddies… collectively, we know people all over the country. If people all across the
country start calling, and complaining, and demanding a fair insurance
policy, maybe, just maybe, they will consider rewriting the policy
with a voice from their employees.
This is our HEALTH INSURANCE email thread…. this is the corporate
number: #########. Once we get everyone on board across the
country, we should start calling in droves. I think our best bet is
to start on February 1st. We need to make a campaign out of this if
we want anything to change, and WE ALL NEED TO PITCH IN. Let’s
forward this to all our friends at different stores so we can at least
put up a fight. Let’s grow this email list across the country!
Who’s with me?!?
Followed by this email from the same person:
I’ve already gotten a few responses and comments, and I’d like to respond. Many people have told me health insurance is the most important reason for working at our restaurant. Many of us NEED it for specialists, physical therapy, family dependents, etc. So please read on…
Question: Where have you gotten your facts?
Answer: I’ve had contact with both the health line, as well as a an employee from another store who was told exactly what I explained before. I also called corporate to ask questions regarding a the health policy changes. I was directed to the voicemail of a woman named Emily I believe. No response yet. Both the health line operator and the employee verified this: If you make it to 30+ hours average in one quarter, and you drop below that the next quarter, then you have one quarter to make it back to 30+ hours or you lose your insurance. From then on, you need 30+ average to re-enroll during open enrollment. Essentially they are trying to legally stop coverage of their many part time employees. Because we are a seasonal business, most of us are part-time in January, February, September and October at least!
Question: Is this a NY thing or is it all across the US?
Answer: It is company-wide, and therefore all across the US. There may be things that differ from state to state, though I have no knowledge of this. I do know that health line said it’s company-wide, and I know other stores got the same letters we did.
Question: Can we send a letter to our congressman or the media?
Answer: We can most definitely write a politician, though I think this is pretty useless. Talking to media is very much against rules, so if done, would have to be done anonymously. This could be effective, but we’re not there yet. In reality, a campaign to call corporate and inundate them with complaints is the best immediate course of action. Once we get a response of some kind, we can evaluate the next logical step if anything.
***Again, please talk to your co-workers and friends. We work in a seasonal industry, and these policies put us in a position to lose our most important benefits. They want us to give great customer service but threaten the most basic of our needs. So call everyone you know. Get them on this email chain!
My two cents thrown in I sent in return:
Something to consider:
Not one person was scheduled 30 hours this week. Even the people scheduled four shifts, and they were few, worked less than 30 hours. In fact the only way to get 30 hours is to work four night shifts and stay till closing. And when I say closing I mean closing. If you clock out at exactly 1:00 a.m. you have only worked for 7.5 hours after your 30 minute break. Times 4 is exactly 30 hours. If you work one minute less during the week your average falls below 30 hours and Corey’s explained the rest.
As all of you know I work mostly cocktail shifts and there is NO way I can maintain that average and I’m at work till closing every night. I’d have to be guaranteed four shifts a week, and never call in sick, give up a shift, or be bumped because it would only take a few of those to bring me below that 30 hour mark.
The new plan essentially means that no new front of house staff will be eligible for healthcare because of how we are staffed and scheduled. As I was discussing tonight, management would seriously have to cut our staff by at least 1/4 so that we all could be scheduled 5 to 6 shifts every week. And that’s just the night staff. If you work only days the struggle becomes even more difficult because you work 6 or 7 hours per shift.
I do agree with Corey that although it’s being attributed to Obamacare I really think it has more to do with the restaurant’s bottom line. They have to kick in money to provide us healthcare and so the fewer included the better. Which explains why our premiums are going up because there are fewer of us. I also know that the number one reason I came back to work at here was to have healthcare. The job loses great value if that is taken away. I have no idea whether his suggestion and ideas will work. I do know that it can’t hurt, and trust me they won’t fire you for complaining.
What do you guys think? Is it worth stepping up to the plate and starting a calling campaign or do we just take it on the chin because there isn’t much we can do about it?