- Grocery chain Trader Joe's has already offered a $500 subsidy for part-time workers under Obamacare.
- But many employees were infuriated with Trader Joe's for abandoning its committment to insure its part-time staff. The company has said it cannot compete with the low-cost offerings under the Affordable Care Act.
- A memo from the company's vice president of human resources said Trader Joe's would consider additonal subsidies in special circumstances, and asked workers to submit hardship requests.
Trader Joe's is truly in a no-win situation here. As one of the few companies in the U.S, to offer health benefits to its part-time workers, that largesse became a key part of the company's attraction. We've met a number of the worker's at our local Trader Joe's, and they all took the job for the benefits. Now it has become untenable to maintain that benefit -- an unintended consequence of a law that is supposed to increase health-insurance coverage.
It's too early to tell just what this will mean to Trader Joe's. But we must note this: until a few weeks ago the folks working at Trader Joe's were some of the happiest characters we knew. They were like the staff at Southwest Airlines back in the early days. Or the people at REI or the Apple Store today (both of which offer benefits to part-timers.) But after the grocer announced the changes to its coverage, things changed. Suddenly shopping at Trader Joe's was sort of like visiting the Post Office. Let's hope that doesn't last.