WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Saturday that many workers will find their hours reduced and their wages cut because of Obamacare.
“Effective health-care reform should provide Americans with access to quality and affordable care while also encouraging economic growth. That’s not what is happening under Obamacare,” Collins said in the Weekly Republican Address.
“Instead, Obamacare is actually discouraging small businesses from creating jobs and hiring new employees. The law also has perverse incentives for employers to reduce the number of hours that their employees can work.
“While most small-business owners want to provide health insurance for their employees, many simply cannot afford to under Obamacare. Yet, even struggling businesses with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to provide health insurance or face huge fines for each employee. If you employ 49 workers, there are no fines. But, if you add just one more employee, you’re hit with penalties.”
“Under Obamacare,” Collins added, “anyone working an average of just 30 hours a week is considered ‘full-time.’ This will only cause some businesses to reluctantly reduce the hours of their workers to fewer than 30 hours per week.” For example, “a school system in my state of Maine is already preparing to track and cap the number of hours that substitute teachers can work to ensure that they don’t work more than 29 hours a week. Fewer hours means less money in the teachers’ paychecks and more disruption for their students.”
Collins pointed out that many labor leaders have warned that “Obamacare will destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
“They are right to be worried: In the past, most new jobs were full-time. But, this year, the overwhelming majority of new jobs are part-time.
“Under this troubling trend, more workers will find their hours and their earnings reduced. Jobs will be lost. This is especially disturbing as our country is still battling high unemployment.
“A study published by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, underscores the danger. That study found that 10 million American workers are vulnerable to having their hours cut as a direct result of Obamacare.
“In an effort to protect these millions of workers, I’ve introduced a bipartisan bill called the ‘Forty Hours is Full Time Act.’ My bill would change the definition of ‘full-time employee’ in Obamacare from 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week. A 40-hour work week is full-time; we all know that. This bill is just common sense.
“Now, the Obama administration has announced that it is delaying enforcement of the employer mandate until 2015. But, the fact is, the law remains in place and continues to discourage new jobs and full-time work.
“Of course, fixing this one flaw won’t solve the countless problems caused by Obamacare. But it would help ensure that millions of American workers do not have their hours, and their paychecks, reduced.”
Collins also last week joined Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ariz., and John Boozman, R-Ariz., in introducing legislation to ensure National Guard military technicians receive the same furlough protection as members of the active duty military.
“While all active duty military personnel are exempt from sequestration, dual-status technicians are not, even though these technicians are really the effective equivalent of the uniformed personnel in the active duty component. This bill would fix that,” said Collins.
“Military technicians play an integral role in maintaining our National Guard’s readiness,” Pryor said. “There’s no question that they should be given the same protection as their active component counterparts. I hope the Senate will take up and pass our bill immediately.”
“The readiness of our National Guard depends on military technicians’ ability to do their job. Serving side-by-side with other Guard and military personnel, the role they play in the effectiveness of our military units is nothing less than essential. They should receive the same exemption as other members of the Armed Forces,” Boozman said.
Collins’ media release stated that military technicians serve as civilian employees for the U.S. Department of the Army and Department of Air Force, as well as military members of the National Guard. They assist with day-to-day operations and training of National Guard units. They also contribute greatly to unit-level readiness in support of National Guard missions.