Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter recently told investors that Obamacare’s health coverage requirements will cost him between 11 and 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order, a cost which he will pass on to his customers.
"If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests," according to a report in Politico.
I don’t have any reason to disbelieve his math so let’s assume it to be true. What strikes me about his comments is that he expresses concern for his shareholders but doesn’t acknowledge the benefit to his employees—and customers—of health insurance.
Restaurant workers are some of the hardest working and lowest-paid people in America. Only about 1 percent are unionized, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which advocates for improved working conditions and benefits, including higher minimum wages and paid sick days. Paid sick days and access to health care aren’t just good for employees: sick restaurant workers can transmit foodborne illnesses to diners.
Schnatter clearly has it in for “Obamacare.” Besides bemoaning the cost of health insurance for his employees, his company is part of a new lobbying coalition called the “American Pizza Community,” which is trying to torpedo another Obamacare requirement: calorie labeling on menus. (Memo to Schnatter: You could probably cut your health care costs further by prohibiting your employees from eating your pizza—a large “John’s Favorite” has 4,100 calories, or 410 per slice.)
As restaurant diners we make choices on the basis of taste, quality, price nutrition, convenience, and so on. It’s also fair to consider how a company treats its employees or weighs in on matters of public policy before making a reservation or phoning in an order. I’d just assume that the person tossing my salad or delivering my pizza is not sick and has health care. 14 cents per pizza seems like a bargain.
John Schnatter’s Anchorage, Kentucky villa.