Staples is firing back at President Obama after he accused the company of trying to shirk certain responsibilities of his signature healthcare law.
Obama blasted the office supply giant in an interview with BuzzFeed after the news outlet reported that Staples had threatened to fire workers who clocked more than 25 hours a week. The restrictions on hours, according to BuzzFeed, were an attempt to avoid fees under the Affordable Care Act.
But the same day that the interview published, a spokesman for Staples slammed Obama’s comments and said that he “appears not to have all the facts.”
“It’s unfortunate that the president is attacking a company that provides more than 85,000 jobs and is a major tax payer,” Staples spokesman Mark Cautela said in a statement, adding that the company "is a leader in helping associates build a secure future.”
“I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security. And if they can’t, then they should be willing to allow those workers to get the Affordable Care Act without cutting wages,” Obama told BuzzFeed.
The news outlet’s reports on Staples, which began last December, include photographs of flyers that have been posted in some stores. The stories also cite anonymous sources who said they were warned not to exceed 25 hours per week or face losing their jobs.
Cautela, the Staples spokesman, told BuzzFeed last month that the policy on the 25-hour limit was, in fact, a decade old. He said that policy was again reiterated “as we work to increase the efficiency of our retail network.”
The sharp exchange between Obama and Staples adds to a tense political debate about when employers should be required to offer healthcare to their workers.
ObamaCare's employer mandate defines a "full-time" work week as 30 hours, though Republicans in Congress are trying to raise the threshold to 40 hours, which they say will prevent companies from restricting their part-time workers' hours.