Five Guys Franchise Owner Newest Obamacare Opponent

By Tim Peacock

Five Guys
Five Guys franchise owner Mike Ruffer ruffled feathers on Monday when he told the Washington Examiner that he intends to fight Obamacare by raising menu prices and potentially cutting employee hours and eliminating staff. Speaking in the same vein as other restaurant chain owners like Papa Johns' John Schnatter, Ruffer believes his business' bottom line should come before the health and well being of his employees. According to Ruffer, "Any added costs are going to have to be passed on." The Examiner reported that:
Ruffer initially thought he would escape the law because he created each restaurant as its own company. But the law doesn't recognize that distinction, so now he's trying to determine if he can fire enough workers, or cut enough hours, to slide out of the grasp of Obamacare.
Ruffer believes that the impetus for keeping employees healthy should fall upon the state - especially since most restaurant industry employees cannot afford individually-purchased health care plans. Employer-based health insurance is the only affordable option for millions of Americans (since we do not have a public option to fall back on). Knowing this, Ruffer (and many restaurant industry CEO's like him) believe taxpayers should field the brunt of the pain when it comes to sick restaurant workers. 

Rather than cover employees at a bare minimum (in addition to offering sick days - something else the restaurant industry notoriously refuses to offer its employees), Ruffer and other restaurant industry owners would have employees earning meager wages at or just above minimum wage - which, coincidentally, will help them qualify for programs like Medicaid. 

Five Guys
Conservatives always ask why we need government oversight. They ask why we can't let businesses run themselves the way they choose (good old laissez faire!).  This is a perfect example of corporate greed run amok - and the need for government intervention to safeguard the very health of the workers these corporations claim to have an interest in. Without federal safeguards like the minimum wage and Obamacare, restaurants wouldn't have to be as "generous" as they already are to their employees.

As for Ruffer...he can fight Obamacare all he wants. He can "add costs" to his menu too - I fully support it if it means offering his employees health insurance coverage. I'd rather have a healthy, happy employee making my food rather than a sick, under-insured employee who was forced to come to work with the flu (that will inevitably infect thousands of customers). And before you say that could never happen - it does...every day

And if Ruffer does choose to fight Obamacare (like Papa Johns and a host of other restaurants attempted to do), he too will feel the power of massive public backlash that will inevitably harm his bottom line - the one thing he's been trying to protect all along, even at the cost of employee health. 

One final note: To be clear, Ruffer (as I mentioned above) is a franchise owner that operates approximately eight Five Guys franchises in the North Carolina area. In an effort to clarify the corporate headquarters policy in comparison with Ruffer's opinion, The Huffington Post contacted Five Guys about Ruffer's announcement and received a response from the restaurant chain's public relations director Molly Catalano that Ruffer is an independent business owner and "does not represent Five Guys on this or any other subject matter."

About Tim Peacock:
For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In creating Peacock Panache, he's combined two of his favorite hobbies: blogging and current events/politics. When not working here, Tim toils away at editing & rewriting the novels he's completed over the years. You can read samples of his other work here.

You can find Tim elsewhere online at his personal website. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms

3 comments:

  1. "Cut, cut, cut!" It's the only word dumb capitalist know unless it's the idea of raising prices, and any old excuse will do. Well, Five Guys has joined Papa John's, Red Lobster and others who think they are shareholders are the only ones who should benefit from company profits. These are the capitalist who work their employees as if they are disposable machines. Actually, they treat their machines better. At least if a machine breaks down, a repair person is called in, but let an employee get sick...

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  2. To the corporate HQ's defense, I will say that they immediately distanced themselves from the franchise owner's statements. They either completely disagree, or have a damned good PR department and know a PR disaster when they see one coming.

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