May 25, 2013
By John Durso, President, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW
The Affordable Care Act has made a difference in the lives of millions of Americans. Families no longer have to worry about being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions nor do they have to worry about insurance caps preventing them from accessing the necessary medical treatment. They also have the comfort of knowing that the health of their children is secure until they are 26. However, with the good, has also come the bad.
The Affordable Care Act is adversely affecting part-time workers, including Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW’s hard working members, as the little discussed but problematic “30-Hour Rule” takes effect.
According to the "30-Hour Rule," a full-time worker is defined as a worker who works a total of 30 paid hours in a 7-day week. Under this provision employers are required to provide health insurance to any and all employees working over 30 hours or risk paying a fine. Within the original legislation, union benefit plans covered by the Taft-Hartley Act were to be exempted from this rule as many plans already provide quality health insurance coverage to part-time workers. Yet, at the final hour, this exemption was removed to appease Republicans with the promise that it would be addressed and amended in the Affordable Care Act’s regulations. Three years later, this promise has yet to be upheld.
As a result, many employers are reducing workers’ hours in order to avoid complying with the rule. This cost-cutting measure has hit workers’ wallets hard as they are seeing the loss of work including, on Sundays when many receive premium pay. As for Local 338, our part-time members are on the whole frustrated and feel as though they are being punished for supporting legislation that is intended to fix a broken health care system and improve the lives of their fellow working people. Others are just outright frightened about how they’re going to afford rent and their family’s essentials on significantly fewer hours. In a time when so many workers are barely making ends meet, we need to be supporting these men and women, not adding to their struggles.
Local 338 is actively engaging members of Congress to find solutions that will ease this unfair burden that has been placed on part-time workers. However, the House of Representatives has once again proven itself to be an obstacle in making progress on the issue of justice for workers. The Republican Leadership has indicated that they have no intention of acting to help working Americans on this issue. Instead, they’d prefer to sit back and allow working families to needlessly struggle.
But it is not just union members that are affected by the “30-Hour Rule.” This is a problem for all part-time workers, many of whom are seeing their hours slashed without any means of recourse. In a time when so many working men and women are struggling, it is up to us to demand that Congress act now to end the “30-Hour Rule” and protect workers.
This is why at Local 338 we have created an online petition calling on Congress to take action and help these struggling workers. I ask you to sign our online petition and to call your Congressional Representative. Please also encourage your coworkers, members, family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. To sign our petition in support of ending the “30-Hour Rule”, please visit: local338.org/endthe30hourrule