New Orleans The headline in the Times spoke of “the 49ers of France,” conjuring up images of the 49ers of California Gold Rush fame, drawing me in completely. These 49ers though were small business owners who moved heaven and earth to not allow their businesses to reach 50 employees which would in the Times’ words, “unleash nearly three dozen French labor regulations.” As ominous as the language makes them sound these regulations are undoubtedly something that those wild and crazy French are doing in order to provide workers with protections on the job. Oh, no! Furthermore they trumpet the tactic and advertise the legal sleight of hand with enthusiasm:
So in a tactic used by hundreds of other employers in a country with some of the European Union’s most extensive labor requirements, he has sought to conquer by dividing. Rather than expand his company, he set up a second, and then a third, all capping the work force at fewer than 49 employees. Like-minded business owners are the reason France holds the curious distinction of having more than twice as many companies with exactly 49 employees, as it does those with 50 or more.
Gearing up for the second enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, small businesses with 50 or more employees will finally face the mandate where they will be required to offer coverage for all of their workers. It makes me wonder whether or not in the United States of America, “Land of the Loophole,” we are about to see small businesses saying, “Oui, oui!” Yes, yes! We’re with the French all of the way, anything to keep from providing our workers healthcare. And, if there were any chance that anyone was missing the point in this ideological narrative of the plight of these virtuous small business David’s against the evil of the brutish Goliath’s of labor, the Times’ Liz Alderman spells it out even more clearly:
Economists say France’s 50-plus labor rules, which require employers to enact stringent and costly job protections – including a workers’ council with labor union delegates, a health and safety committee, and annual collective bargaining – are one reason that France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy, runs an unemployment rate more than twice Germany’s.
So despite the fact that the Times’ business page seems to want to compete now with the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed, rightwing diatribes, my real point is simply that if this is another loophole swinging wide open to deny workers coverage under Obamacare, then we need to close it.