On Twitter on Friday night, NBC political director Chuck Todd tweeted about “Another PR prob of WH on health care.” Will NBC and MSNBC pick this up?
Matthias Gafni of the Contra Costa Times was stunned to discover “Half of Affordable Care Act call center jobs will be part-time.” Oh, that won’t look good for ObamaCare backers. Gafni reported:
Earlier this year, Contra Costa County won the right to run a health care call center, where workers will answer questions to help implement the president's Affordable Care Act. Area politicians called the 200-plus jobs it would bring to the region an economic coup.
Now, with two months to go before the Concord operation opens to serve the public, information has surfaced that about half the jobs are part-time, with no health benefits -- a stinging disappointment to workers and local politicians who believed the positions would be full-time.
The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process -- which attracted about 7,000 applicants -- a "comedy of errors.”
"The battle for the call center was over jobs with good working wages and benefits; I never dreamed they would be part-time," said Karen Mitchoff, who has heard from complaining constituents and expressed her "extreme displeasure with how it was handled" to call center supervisors.
One recent hire, who last week learned the job would be part-time, said the new "intermittent" employees feel like they've been used as a political tool, and many now regret applying for the positions.
"What's really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can't afford it ourselves," said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job.
The call center is funded by the state government, and run by the county.
The county says it had been telling the public and supervisors all along that some positions would be full-time and some part-time. However, portions of staff reports list all 204 jobs as full-time, and a job posting said the same.
The new hires, many of whom left other full-time jobs for the call center positions, were told they were the "cream of the crop," the recent hire said.
Orientation and training started in July, but stopped on the afternoon of July 18, when employees were told they would have private meetings about their positions, the employee said.
"It reminded me of that George Clooney movie where he goes around the country firing people ('Up in the Air')," the employee said. "The woman said, 'I know you were led to believe you would be full time, but things have changed. ... You are actually 'part-time intermittent.'"
The worker said no clear reasons for the change were given.
Those who became part-time were told they would have to pay full freight on their health plans, ranging from $600 to $1,200 a month for a single worker and between $1,400 to $2,900 a month for an employee with a family. That is a steep bill for employees with part-time jobs paying from $15.33 to $18.63 an hour.
Another applicant said he ditched another job offer after getting a congratulatory hiring letter from call center operators in June, only to be given the runaround in the months since.