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Greedy angry pig man in a suit.
It's starting to look like there's some coalition of chain restaurant executives and franchise owners that was just waiting until President Barack Obama was reelected to start coming out, one by one, and announcing the ways they'd be screwing over their workers in response to the outrage of having to provide full-time workers with health care starting in 2014. The big question, to me, is whether this roll-out is cooperative or competitive? Did they agree on a timetable and division of labor to get their war on workers the most possible attention, or are they trying to one-up each other?

The latest is John Metz, who is the franchisor of 48 Hurricane Grill & Wings restaurants and owns 40 Denny's and some Dairy Queen franchises. He's broken a new barrier in trying to make people afraid of the added costs of insuring workers, too: Where Papa John's CEO John Schnatter claimed he'd have to pass along 10 to 14 cents per pizza in added costs, Metz is saying he'll add a percentage surcharge:

"If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare," Metz told The Huffington Post. "Although it may sound terrible that I'm doing this, it's the only alternative. I've got to pass the cost on to the consumer."
Schnatter was already exaggerating the costs he'd be passing along to consumers if this was actually about the cost of health coverage, but even his claims were more like 1 percent of the actual food cost. Metz's 5 percent is a ridiculous inflation of what insuring his workers would actually cost him.

In addition to adding that surcharge because of all the money he's supposedly going to be paying to insure his workers, Metz is also going to cut their hours so they don't qualify for insurance anyway. Huh? He's going to add a surcharge to cover the insurance he's going to avoid offering?

Metz said he will take the extra step of adding a surcharge because he believes the law will eventually expand to include penalties for not covering full-time equivalent employees.
He's adding the surcharge for the insurance he'll cut his workers' hours to avoid offering because someday the law might catch up with his dodge?

No doubt people like Metz and Schnatter want to avoid any hit, however minor, to their own bank accounts. But this is about so much more than that—the actual costs Metz and Schnatter would face are minuscule compared with the level of their outrage, and, as Forbes' Rick Ungar writes,

Certainly, this is not the first time a new cost item has resulted in a small increase in the price of Mr. Schnatter’s product. However, I strongly suspect that it is the first time he has chosen to politicize a cost increase to make an ideological point.
No, this is about class war. If more low-wage workers have health coverage, they're just that little extra bit less desperate and less easily exploited. (Desperation is also good for another kind of business Metz has owned: pawn shops.) This is about keeping power, more so than money, in the hands of the 1 percent.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:23 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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