Given recent reporting that Dunkin' Brands (i.e., corporate ownership of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins) has come out as another large, USA-based business which seeks to avoid paying for more healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, I used the Dunkin' Donuts feedback form to send them an explicit statement of my boycott for their business offerings unless and until their Management no longer seeks to resemble 19th century Robber Barons.
They sent me a boilerplate response which offered no business rationale for their counter-ACA actions that I could discern: their position relied on an accounting point with no apparent impact to running Dunkin' Donuts or Baskin-Robbins in a successful manner while meeting basic requirements of the ACA. In other words, the response resembled libertarian+right-wing obfuscation by redirecting the point being addressed through my boycott.
So, I just wrote them back and made it clear that I felt they were being disingenuous with regards to conveying their true intentions - further, that they should learn to live in the modern century and own up to what a growing percentage of USA citizens see as their corporate responsibility for supporting a healthy workforce.
I feel this is a healthy exercise for us all to go through once in awhile, as raising the consciousness within any business of how potential customers negatively view their public actions could be one method of helping them understand how to re-gain our support in the future vs. their competitors.
My original feedback of boycotting Dunkin' Brands business was lost when sent via their web-based form, but the gist followed what I mentioned above and was rather abbreviated: their online mechanism only allows for limited size. That submission included my email address for future tracking/contact possibilities.
In response, they sent the following to my provided email address:
. . .One must wonder why the Dunkin' Brands CEO would go out of his way to publicly fight against the ACA's average of 30 work-hours/week (130 hours/month) to determine full-time eligibility for coverage under the Act . . . if their primary intention was to synch up that definition with past tax definitions that allowed for full-time employees to be defined at the 40 work-hours/week.
Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns about the Affordable Care Act.
Dunkin’ Brands recognizes the Affordable Care Act as law, and our franchisees are committed to implementing the law and offering affordable health care for their employees. We believe that the definition of a full-time employee, and the number of hours a full-time employee works each week, should be consistent with existing Federal and State laws, and we have communicated this to the Administration. We do not advocate any change to this definition for the purpose of reducing the number of employees eligible for insurance.
Thank you and have a great day.
Guest Relations Associate
There are many periodicals reporting Dunkin' Brands' intentions along the following lines, which has certainly influenced my thinking on the matter - e.g.,
. . . The question of who counts as a full-time worker is coming under fire from Dunkin' Brands (DNKN +0.27%), which wants the government to narrow its definition under Obamacare. That's because it wants to avoid paying health insurance for Dunkin' Donuts employees who work as little as 30 hours a week.Still, I felt it fair to consider other issues at play before deciding on my boycott and associated feedback to their business.
Are their Accounting departments ready to implode due to complexity in handling these new calculations? The IRS provides at least three different methods for calculating and determining full-time status on an employee-by-employee basis, so it's not as if there is little flexibility offered.
Do their accountants have such idealistic clashes with the new definition that they cannot handle the new calculations from an emotional standpoint? Accountants are rather diligent and adaptable folks in my experience, so this seems an unlikely issue.
Will the costs of tracking and calculating the ACA-mandated full-time hours lead to excessive overhead in their business? Timecards are already managed by any retail business and there are many IRS-related changes that every large business must accommodate each year.
Therefore, none of these potential issues seem to rise above any level of concern that would call for a CEO to declare opposition to the ACA's full-time worker classification on their behalf.
There must be another reason or set of reasons, and those are relatively easy to guess at within today's corporate business climate, I feel. In that respect, here is my most recent reply to their boilerplate response:
Hello abcxyz,It's possible that Dunkin' Brands has simply not elucidated their best rationale for opposing this important definition in the ACA and that my impression gained from their actions + feedback response is far off the mark. I can accept updates or corrections from their perspective, if such might exist. Up until now, they've had two chances to explain why their opposition to the ACA full-time definition is reasonable from both business and social standpoints in the USA, but I have not seen anything resembling "reasonable" in my current interpretation.
I appreciate your obfuscatory response, because there is no "consistency" issue in classifying full-time workers with regards to the ACA's measure of at least 30 hrs avg/week or 130 hrs/month within the context of the ACA. Being a former Republican, I'm used to points which are meant to distract from taking responsibility of one's actual intent towards others.
I see no other reason for Dunkin' Brands to find objection with the many IRS methods available for calculating full-time status under the ACA, than to keep as much money in the top hands of their Management and Investors at all costs to their workers. I highly doubt that accountants in Dunkin' Brands are pulling our Management's hair due to worrying over accounting changes in full-time calculations that the ACA offers. Instead, I feel that your response intends to provide a distracting "cover" for Dunkin' Brands Executive + Shareholder underlying desire to see this important provision of the ACA disappear, so as to save profit for those very few people . . . if your public compensation data is to be believed. The ACA is meant to help expand healthcare access, not maintain the unworkable and unfair status quo of private, business-led healthcare subsidies in the USA that we have moved towards in the past 30 years.
This Act will ensure that those hired as full-time employees in a practical sense will gain appropriate healthcare support, because those same people working at close-to-minimum wages often have little money beyond basic expenses and minor conveniences to afford paying into private healthcare plans; a healthy workforce is one to invest in, not avoid and toss away for the next lower-salary workers who apply. For example, a typical Dunkin' Donuts Cashier makes ~$6-10K/hour; after transportation, clothing, food, shelter, etc. for someone working in a full-time capacity (i.e., at least 4 days a week of 8-hour shifts) in your store, that does not leave much for preventative healthcare and certainly nothing for emergencies. In many companies today, "full-time" employees who work 4 vs 5 days still obtain healthcare subsidies from available plans through their employers. Why should Dunkin' Donuts be any different, please?
Given that businesses such as Dunkin' Brands do not desire to see public tax money used for public healthcare-for-all (i.e., as is seen in almost every modern Western country today), but instead to maximize revenues for their top Management and Shareholders, I can see this as a shock to their view of status quo. In an information-rich, modern world, greater percentages of USA citizens are catching up with the lies of exceptionalism in this country: sending most profit to the top while pushing down "expenses" in the form of employee compensation has become an unsustainable socio-business model. Those who continue to practically worship the stories told on behalf of our wealthiest citizens are quickly becoming fringe political adherents, by all recent polling; sure, your Executive chain and financial backers (e.g., Carlyle Group) expect to maximize their compensation while pushing down worker living arrangements as much as possible, but 19th century "Robber Baron" mentality has only contributed to the greatest divide between the top 4% and lower 96% of USA citizens by wealth in the history of this country since before the Great Depression and that is eating the middle class - not the poor - out of being your future customers. Investment in livable jobs has gone the way of the Dodo bird in modern times where the unreality of Wall Street expectations rule all corporate directions. Still, there has been a better balance in the USA's past which worked quite well, and now is the time to redress the currently extreme situation: the ACA is only one arm of a larger effort to move back towards a better financial and support balance within this country.
I request you convey my request that Dunkin Brand's leadership lobbies on behalf of Medicare-for-All if they want to avoid individual healthcare subsidy responsibilities, and that your Management considers a different boilerplate response to my boycott feedback to actually display their true motivations instead of hiding behind obfuscatory technical points that have nothing to do with the intent of the bi-partisan ACA as it has been enacted, please.
Certainly, my view of what is reasonable takes into account more than what their Wall Street-influenced financial targets may allow. I feel that's an unfortunate issue commonly exhibited by various, large businesses operating in the USA today and that the ACA is only a small data point which legislatively will create a change in business expectations going forward. To that end, it can help effect social change, as well. Sometimes, change can be good and be started through government efforts. Gee, government working for people who are not also defined as corporations - that's a nice thought.
I feel that taking a small amount of time to periodically voice our stronger concerns with businesses that appear unaware of the untenable positions in which they possibly place their majority of employees is a healthy activity within society. It doesn't rise to the level of French boycotts en masse, but perhaps adds growing voices up the Management chain of retailers who will also be dealing with "more and better" legislative efforts that will cut into their way of blithely implementing Reaganomics-on-steroids in the current century.