February 27, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Our Overregulated Government: Labor-market rules hit public-sector employers too.

That’s right, ObamaCare’s employer mandate applies to the public as well as the private sector, and although it’s been delayed until next year, “many public employers have already adopted policies, laws or regulations” to avoid its costliest effects, the Times reports.

That means making sure part-time workers don’t reach 30 hours a week, the threshold at which the mandate kicks in: “Among those whose hours have been restricted in recent months are police dispatchers, prison guards, substitute teachers, bus drivers, athletic coaches, school custodians, cafeteria workers and part-time professors.”

Local officials from across the country describe the dilemmas ObamaCare has forced upon them. “Are we supposed to lay off full-time teachers so that we can provide insurance coverage to part-time employees?” asks Mark Benigni, schools superintendent of Meriden, Conn. “If I had to cut five reading teachers to pay for benefits for substitute teachers, I’m not sure that would be best for our students.”

In suburban Cleveland, Mayor Dennis Hanwell of Medina (population 26,678), tells the paper his city had to reduce the hours–and thus the pay–of office clerks, sanitation men, park inspectors and police dispatchers to 29 hours from 35. “Our choice was to cut the hours or give them health care, and we could not afford the latter,” the mayor says.

The Times reports the American Federation of Teachers website has a list of “three dozen public colleges and universities in 15 states” that have restricted working hours of adjunct or part-time faculty members. By our count it’s 34 institutions in 17 states, but in any case the list isn’t comprehensive. The introductory text asks for more information: “Do you know of employers cutting faculty workloads and blaming ACA? We want to hear from you!”

It’s train wrecks all the way down.