Dunkin' Brands Takes Stand Against Obamacare

The Canton-based company is lobbying the White House to changes its definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week to 40 or more per week, according to reports.

Canton-based Dunkin' Brands, which has stand-alone locations in town at Westford Valley Marketplace and on Groton Road as well as inside Rapid Refill and Gulf, has joined the fight against Obamacare

The coffee and baked goods company is working to overturn a major provision of Obamacare, according to a Newsmax.com report this week.

Specifically, Dunkin' is lobbying the White House to change its definition of full-time work from at least 30 hours a week to 40 or more per week, CEO Nigel Travis told the Financial Times, according to The Huffington Post.

The change would leave Dunkin', as well as other companies, with fewer workers to insure under the health care reform law, which requires large employers to provide health coverage to all full-time workers and their dependents. Those companies who fail to provide coverage could face a penalty of $2,000 per worker. The mandate applies to every company with 50 or more full-time employees. 

What do you think? Do you support the move by Dunkin' Brands? Let us know in the comments section below.

Steven Sadowski February 27, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Dee: With all due respect, I think your analysis runs anathema to business 101. The problem with society's mindset regarding business is that people feel business belongs to the town. That is simply wrong. For example, If I want to open a...say...bike shop, my goals are to sell as many bikes as I can. That is what businesses do and why they exist: to make money. But in society today, we feel that the bike shop now belongs to the town and how can this business help the town build sidewalks and create jobs and offer insurance and supply the myriad of needs BoS and state officials deem necessary to make their kingdoms a better place. Lost is the original purpose: to sell bikes. When companies cut back to save their bottom line, people cry, "why are you taking away my health care, my pension, my scholarship?" Instead they should ask, how are our bylaws causing this company to have to constrict? Enter Obamacare. If you look up "unintended consequences" in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Obama signing Obamacare into law with dozens of gleaming progressives all around him thinking that finally, the govt. has solved healthcare. The plague of permanent part time employment is the result of companies just trying to survive so they can just do what they are designed to do: sell bikes.
Sam February 27, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Well said!
worriedaboutAmerica February 27, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Thanks Steve - a voice of sanity. When Americans begin to remember we are a free, capitalist society based on the concept of "private property"... we will begin our route to recovery. Socialist/communist/statist notions like "a reasonable distribution of work" - need to be called what they are. Have we forgotten we fought wars to stop these concepts and those who espouse them?
R Gagnon February 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM
I hope you keep that mindset regarding lowering the demands on workers in order to justify hiring a new employee. I am the guy who will step up and put in the extra effort to do my part in insuring the success of the company. I have recently gone through a work force reduction. The reason the company cut my job and about 150 other jobs is because it is more cost effective to pay companies in China to do the work that I used to do. That is not only happening in manufacturing jobs where they build low margin widgets, but also in the engineering environment. So, because the US is the most expensive country to do work in due to the highest tax rate on businesses and overbearing regulatory burden, even skilled engineering jobs are being outsourced. But, that is a topic for another discussion. I have been getting good traction on my job search because I have built a reputation in my field as the guy who will do what is necessary for the success of the company. I expect to be back to work within 2 or 3 weeks because I understand why companies need to run a lean operation. I'll be working, paying taxes and purchasing consumable goods, putting my salary back into the economy. If you go to a job interview, make sure you let them know that if they paid you to work fewer hours, they will be able to hire another person and take on all the associated expenses of a new hire. Makes my prospects that much better.
Mike February 27, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Steven, your analysis ignores the real-world example of Wal-Mart -- a successful company with a goal to sell as much of everything as it possibly can -- which has used mostly permanent part-timers for decades to avoid paying health care. This policy was in effect for years before Obamacare because it was great for Wal-mart at the expense of other taxpayers. Most Wal-Mart employees made too little to afford private insurance and weren't eligible for company plans, so they went to the insurer of last resort: the state. In Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and possibly Alabama (haven't checked in a few years) Wal-Mart employees made up the bulk of those enrolled in safety-net programs. Those ineligible for the safety net programs often use emergency rooms as their primary care provider, further raising the costs of health care. I agree that Obamacare isn't a cure-all; it's more like a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound. But one thing it gets right is the need to apply financial pressure on companies whose stated policy is to make taxpayers foot most of the bill for employee health care costs. Progressive boondoggle? Hardly; Both the personal mandate and the corporate penalties are ideas cooked up by the Cato Institute So, WWRPD? The Libertarian approach of "medical savings accounts" is a cruel joke for workers barely earning minimum wage, and then only for 15-30 hours a week.
Mary Giurleo February 28, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Since Dunkin is a Massachusetts-based company and 'Obamacare' started here, shouldn't Dunkin have been prepared for this? I mean, aren't they already providing their 30+ hour per week MA employees with health insurance? If so, don't their employees in other states deserve the same treatment? Or is this a difference between 'Obamacare' and 'Romneycare'?
worriedaboutAmerica February 28, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Mike, your comment about Walmart ignores the fact, almost exclusively, they hire workers with virtually no skills who otherwise would be considered unemployable in many companies - they give them a steady income and security, and eventually the experience to move on. The idea that every job should support a family is the same kind of thinking that brought us the minimum wage. If companies are successful, there will be jobs, if there are jobs, you have the opportunity (not the right) to improve your status in life. Let's not forget we are an achievement based economy - not everyone gets a trophy.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 01:17 AM
Mike: You're creating an anecdotal argument that is irrelevant. What Wal Mart did before Obamacare has no bearing on the topic. The topic, of the article and Dee's initial foray, is that because of Obamacare, companies are having to come up with solutions in order to survive financially. It's not just DD, Subway and Papa Johns have made similar pleas to stop the madness. One of those solutions is to hire only part time workers. Another one is making everyone a contracted employee and I'm sure there are others in the pipeline. And then after all of these adaptations, the govt. will have to come and try and "fix" those and around we go and more in debt and up to our ears in red tape we get. This is what is called the "broken window" fallacy. The govt. breaks a window and then creates the impetus to get in there and fix it. Classic statism. Europe is learning from their mistakes, it looks like we're beginning our hard lesson.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 01:26 AM
As for MSA, or HSA's, the Chilean's have a great model that works. So this isn't pie in the sky theory, or cruel. In fact, those that do have insurance, very few of us, thankfully, ever take out more than we put in. I'd love to have an account that builds interest that I could leave to my kids when I die. For the poor, or working poor, we would continue to do for them what we currently do, but instead of it being syphoned through a labyrinth of bureaucracy, the money could be block granted right to their HSA, earning interest, and when they pass on they could leave that account to their kids, or the next needy recipient and truly break the cycle of serfdom to the medical-welfare state. But this is not a discussion on health care. It's a discussion on what responsibility a business has other than to make money legally and the answer is "nothing." The sooner we can all learn that, the sooner we can stop looking at business as the sugar daddy for every thing on our social Christmas list.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Mary: Dunkin is expanding into other states, so the Romeycare doesn't apply there, but now Obamacare does. The result of which is continued unemployment---in all sectors ~8% (and that doesn't include those part time, or out of the workforce), a hoarding of capital, risk averse development, lack of expansion and increased assistance. For the life of me I really can't understand how people just don't get it that Keynesian economics and increased govt. bureaucracies stifle growth and lead to prolonged recessions. Yet, people keep electing progressives. Very odd, but then again, it was odd for the Romans in 425 as well.
Mike February 28, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Steven, it's a completely relevant anecdote that directly applies, mainly because it shows that the push to permanent part-time workers isn't driven by Obamacare -- that's just the latest convenient excuse. It has been happening with greater frequency over the past two decades, mostly because of steeply rising health care costs that preceded Obamacare. That's exactly what the Wal-Mart example shows, and what you're choosing to ignore. So, to avoid covering more workers, these companies are just going to continue to force more of them on the public safety net plans -- which is what they were doing before Obamacare. Do companies have a moral obligation to do more than make a legal profit? No. On this we agree. But corporations also have a financial and civic obligation not to burden taxpayers with their policies. And I'm curious that you mentioned Chile, whose HSA-funded private networks piggyback on a tax-funded universal health care system that's far closer to Canada's than ours.
Mike February 28, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Worried, no one is saying that "every job should support a family." But low-wage jobs that intentionally skirt health care requirements just push the financial burden onto an already costly health care system. I'm not saying this out of any tree-hugging, Kumbaya-singing sense of social justice. I'm far more mercenary, and it's purely a money issue for me. Wal-Mart and other companies are returning high profits to shareholders partially on the backs of everyone else by refusing to cover health care for most of their workers. Period. Wal-Mart, or Dunkin Donuts, or Papa Johns certainly have the right -- actually, the obligation -- to make a profit. They don't have the right to do it by milking the system, and forcing everyone else's health care to rise.
Mike February 28, 2013 at 03:16 AM
"The fourth quarter was strong, and we finished 2012 delivering 15 percent plus adjusted operating income growth and nearly 40 percent adjusted earnings per share growth year-over-year," said Nigel Travis, Chief Executive Officer, Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc., and President, Dunkin' Donuts U.S. "We have the unique combination of strong brand heritage and significant U.S. and global restaurant expansion opportunities, which we are capitalizing on to drive profitable growth for both our franchisees and shareholders. Our contiguous, strategic development approach is working, and we're excited to begin selling Dunkin' Donuts franchises in California. Despite macro-economic instability and a tough competitive environment, consumer and franchisee demand for Dunkin' Donuts is high, our franchisee relationships are strong, and we continue to leverage our asset-light business model giving us confidence to target 15 percent plus adjusted earnings per share growth in 2013."
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Mike: You seem to be conflating two issues. The 1st issue is whether or not companies before Obamacare used minimum wage, part time status, and other gimmicks to avoid paying benefits. The 2nd issue is the effect Obamacare has had in exasperating that trend. You seem to be fusing the two in order to excuse the latter. I don't know why you are trying to make excuses for Obamacare, but every concern brought up by opponents--not just the shock to job creation concern--are all coming to roost: higher premiums, the cost to the deficit, the doctors leaving practice, the lack of care, and on and on. It's a disaster and we haven't even seen the full effects yet. Just wait. Even the Europeans are seeing the light: http://spectator.org/archives/2013/02/25/privatization-shellacs-obamaca The dirty little secret about Canada is that people have two forms of insurance: the govt. system for the poor and private insurance. And that is the legacy of all govt. programs: SSi for the poor, 401K/Roth for the rest of us, public school for the poor, private schools/rich towns for the rest of us, the T for the poor, autos for the rest of us, and on and on. The govt. doesn't change a thing. It just costs more money to get the same results. But in Chile, they do have HSA's that will accrue and take the burden off the govt. dole. And what's the animosity for Wal Mart? I mean there's Kohls, Target, Dollar Store, et al. Why does everyone pick on Wal Mart?
Mike February 28, 2013 at 04:32 AM
"The 1st issue is whether or not companies before Obamacare used minimum wage, part time status, and other gimmicks to avoid paying benefits." Yes, they did. "The 2nd issue is the effect Obamacare has had in exasperating that trend." Yes, it has. But you can't say that without acknowledging that all the aforementioned companies had been moving to part-timers before Obamacare, a trend brought on by increasing health care costs that Obamacare is trying to control via greater coverage. The difference now is that employers take a slight haircut for each worker they push onto public health care plans. The "shock to job creation" argument is provably bogus; just read the Dunkin' Donuts earnings statement I posted below. Why the Wal-Mart focus? Everyone picks on Wal-Mart because they're the biggest dog in the pound. They have the most workers, sure, but their policies also put the biggest intentional burden -- emphasis on intentional -- on public health care systems.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Mike: OK, now I think I get where you're coming from and with just a little more work, I think I can get you there. Follow you, follow me... In order for your premise to be valid, you would have to take a pretty conspiratorial view of how business operates and a naive view of why any benefits to workers exist at all. 1a.) Conspiratorial: Basically you would have us believe that all of these companies like DD, Papa Johns, and Subway et al were looking to cut benefits and hours for years but waited patiently until Obamacare came along so they could use it for cover to deflect blame, or score political points. This is a fantastic story that makes zero business sense, since the private sector and the govt. operate at two different speeds. To set your clock to the turtle makes for a slow hare. I'm not buying your hypothesis for the simple fact that operating a business is hard enough with calibrating your operation to coincide with the legislative process.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 01:30 PM
1b.) Benefits exist in non-union shops for the simple reason that it makes the job more attractive to possible workers. Back in the day, I took a job at a hotel for the simple reason they offered medical benefits. If it wasn't for those benefits, I NEVER would've worked there. No way. If working at Wal Mart is so horrible, then why do they employ so many people? They must be offering something that all of the other companies are not. Much ballyhoo was made about CEO pay and bonuses but the fact is that there are not a lot of CEO's running around out there so if you want to compete for their services you have to offer bonuses and high pay. There isn't some Machiavellian ploy to create an oligarchy. So if DD after all this time was offering benefits, and now all of a sudden they are cutting back, and they are giving Obamacare as the reason, I do not doubt that is the real reason as it makes perfect sense, not some wild scheme to take a hit just to score political points later. They afterall, operate in the bluest of blue states! Your theories don't bear out I'm afraid. 2.) Your DD stockholders brief is superfluous other than to continue the occupy class envy meme. I have never gotten a job from a poor man. I like rich people. rich people buy things and invest their money which is good. Some of those stockholders are regular workers with 401k's and mutual funds that hold stock in the evil corporations.
Mike February 28, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Steven, I was prepared to rebut you point by point, starting with your continued refusal to acknowledge that nearly all of the companies complaining about Obamacare were already shifting workers to permanent part-time years before Obama was elected. (Nevermind that most of the provisions don't even take effect until 2014) But then you said this: "If working at Wal Mart is so horrible, then why do they employ so many people? They must be offering something that all of the other companies are not." Oy. At best, this shows a fairly strong ignorance of Wal-Mart and its business model of avoiding urban centers and concentrating its growth in rural and exurban areas. In most of those areas, it's the only game in town for low-skilled workers. People don't work there because the benefits are great, they work there because that's where the jobs are.
Mary Giurleo February 28, 2013 at 02:44 PM
OK, I'm home from work with a sick child today, so I had time to research my own question. (Honestly, I don't know how you people find the time for these long philosophical debates!) The answer is Romneycare defines f/t time as 35 hrs/wk, and it seems to be working pretty well here, so maybe Obamacare should be adjusted.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Comments have been deleted due to violations of the terms of use.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Mike: It seems pretty clear to me that you have an issue with Wal Mart. That's fine. I don't troll the Huff Po. for all the inside gossip as to why Wal Mart is so evil, you seem to have a lot more time to single out one company for vitriol, but from my perspective Wal Mart is able to afford low prices because they buy in bulk. They can afford to buy in bulk because they have huge warehouses to hold inventory and huge warehouses are cost prohibitive in urban centers due to sq.ft. costs. I'm well aware payroll costs are also in the equation. This does not offend me. Another reason they aren't in urban centers---at least in Boston---is because they are banned from opening up shop there, just like they were blocked from opening in Westford. I don't get the anger, if I don't like a place I don't shop there. It's my choice, the govt. should not be in a position to pick winners and losers on the monopoly board, but they are, so people hoof it out to Chelmsford, or Nashua. As for YOUR insistences, I am not privy to the inner workings of DD. I do not sit on the board, maybe you do? So I have two conflicting pieces of information: I have Mike and I have the CEO of DD. I'm putting them on a scale and I apologize but Nigel's cup hits the floor.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Furthermore, and this is the key you keep missing: I am not arguing what companies did before Obamacare. Maybe they were cutting back, maybe they were in a phase of this or that, who knows, who cares? That is not the argument. Sorry you think it is. What I'm arguing, is that currently, several companies are complaining about Obamacare, and you are taking the word of a man who has never operated so much as a lemonade stand over dozens of successful business people. You are taking the word of a man who has never practiced medicine over thousands of prominent doctors who have tried in vain to argue otherwise including Dr. Ron & Rand Paul and most recently Dr. Ben Carson. Telling.
Amber February 28, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Are you sucking the fun out of the debate again. Andrew? :) (It wasn't me this time, I swear.)
Amber February 28, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Healthcare for all is a laudable goal, but the propping up of the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies to make it happen is insulting. By and large, big companies can afford to work around this because $2k per year per employee is MUCH less than the annual contribution the employer would be making for health insurance for said employee. If they really wanted to make it work they'd set the penalty much higher, so providing insurance would be a no-brainer. That said, you really need to either go all or nothing - true single payer, socialized medicine; or true free market, direct pay free-for-all with individuals buying only catastrophic insurance coverage for serious illness, maternity, and hospitalization - just like they already do for house, car, etc. Let's face it, part of the insane cost of healthcare right now is the absurd cost of malpractice insurance and the time physicians put into dealing with getting payment from insurance companies who decline first and ask questions later. Sounds like insurance companies are a big part of the problem, no?
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Nope, not you! Sorry, Amber. Gotta do my job. Trust me, nothing I'd like more than to just not have to worry about the comments.
Steven Sadowski February 28, 2013 at 07:50 PM
And that's the rub isn't it? There is one group of people perfectly comfortable with more govt., more programs, a compete single payer takeover, a complete womb-to-tomb entitlement society, and then there's people like me (and I think us) that want a free market solution of HSA's, catastrophe insurance, pay-as-you-go medicine, tort reform, and more choices. Unfortunately, we are the sandwich generation where this fight is going on so we suffer with the worst of both worlds until somebody wins. It's not looking too good for our side though. Cool thing is if you put in for your number now, you could land yourself an easy-to-remember series, like Citizen #10000001. I feel sorry for the last surviving constitutionalist, that poor slob is going to get something hard like citizen # 34aGH3689WWs90. I can hear him now at the political bureau of refrigeration, or the PBR as it will be called, "I'm sorry sir is that a zero, or an "o?" "I'm sorry sir you will have to go back in the line."
Amber March 01, 2013 at 07:20 PM
I think Walmart is vilified because when you see companies like Coscto operating morally (or at least, more morally), providing benefits and a living wage, than the others who are exploiting sweatshop workers to maximize profits, you wonder why can't they do the same thing as Costco? And there is some truth to the argument that part-time minimum wage employ has always been a means for businesses (small or large) of skirting around benefits. When I used to do the schedule for my high school job (in the dark ages), I had to be careful not to schedule anyone for more than 35 hours for that very reason. Back when those were high school jobs, it wasn't a big deal because they had coverage from their parents. Now you have underemployed workers doing whatever they can to eke out a living, and you can't support a family (or even a single person living alone) on a minimum wage income. Maybe in Arizona (worst schools in the country!), but not in Massachusetts. The resulting reality is, those people do whatever they can to NOT get sick, or they pick a Romneycare solution, or they rack up ER bills they'll never be able to pay for (all hospitals have those "free care" pools of money that were created, most likely, by overcharging those who can pay - inscos - to offset the losses of caring for those without insurance). Here we are now, entertain us. ;)
Amber March 01, 2013 at 07:31 PM
It would be nice if federal subsidies of everything but absolutely necessary services stopped. But what people need to recognize is your prices for just about everything are artificially DEflated because of massive gross subsidization of private industry. If you don't shop at Walmart and buy things made in the USA, you already know that you expect a pretty strong price differential. That has nothing to do with warehouses and buying in bulk, it has to do with owning/running sweatshops in Manila where men, women, and children live in slum-standard housing for something like 50 cents a day in wages. You get to buy your kid a $4 shirt because some other kid in some other country far removed from you is working 12 hours and barely eating or having a standard of living is making it for you. Recognizing that you're part of that dynamic and moving out of it means seriously altering your budget and consumer lifestyle. If private industry benefits from thosetaxpayer-funded subsidies and tax loopholes, the least they can do is stop bitching about paying for benefits for the taxpayers they employ (who, via taxes, are also paying for said care).
Amber March 01, 2013 at 07:33 PM
It's really no fun having you around when I have a strong desire to call someone a derogatory expletive-slash-expletive.
Amber March 01, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Steven: there is no spoon. Stop taking the wrong color pill and get your behind back up the rabbit hole, troublemaker.


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