‘Fascist’ Obamacare Will Cut Workers’ Hours: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey

Will Whole Foods eliminate full-time positions? CEO John Mackey blames Obamacare for impending cutbacks.

Obamacare is Fascism, says Whole Foods CEO John MackeyAffordable healthcare is fascism? It didn’t take long for Whole Foods CEO John Mackey to admit that it probably was a “poor choice of words” to say Obamacare was “more like fascism” during a recent interview. (Apparently, the intense slam of negative media coverage gave him foot-in-mouth syndrome.) But this CEO’s attempt to explain his phrasing and opposition to healthcare reform just might have dug him—and Whole Foods’ reputation—into a deeper hole.

Rather than recant his statement during a follow-up damage-control interview, Mackey reiterated that Obamacare and healthcare reform are the cause of his company’s increasing business costs, which he insinuated would be passed down to employees.


When asked how he thought Obamacare would affect his business in the next few years, Mackey replied:

As the costs go up, you’re not required to provide healthcare for part-time workers, under 30 hours. So there will be a strong temptation for businesses to keep people under 30 hours, so they don’t have to provide healthcare. And you will have a lot of part-time workers and fewer full-time workers, a lot of people underemployed.

Whole Foods … has always had a higher mix of full-time to part-time workers, like 80 percent full-time and 20 percent part-time, which is very rare in retail. But I suspect as our healthcare costs are driven up by healthcare reforms, then we’ll end up gradually lowering our full-time ratio to a much lower number.

Costs go up and high-paid executives let their employees foot the bill? So much for the company’s mission that “companies, like individuals, must assume their share of responsibility as tenants of Planet Earth,” which is outlined on the Whole Foods website.

With that kind of “fairness,” Mackey should be less worried about “crony capitalism” and more worried about crony management—and how it’s going to affect Whole Foods’ corporate reputation. Perhaps if he had watched the news, Mackey would have seen the flack that Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter received for blaming Obamacare for raising pizza costs and handing out pink slips.

For a look at CEOs who embody the values of inclusion and make a personal investment in their commitment to diversity, watch these videos of 8 CEOs Whose Inclusive Styles Change Corporate Cultures.

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  • Media Flack does not equal real flack. Why must we silence CEO’s for telling the truth. He is telling like it is. Talk to any non-idealist intelligent adult and they will tell you the same thing.


    • Luke Visconti

      That kind of thinking led to a very expensive defeat in the last election. Or were you out of town and missed the point that saying/believing things like, “I don’t care about poor people,” “The dog liked it on the roof of the car,” “The 47% don’t matter,” “Binders full of women,” “I don’t remember holding down that boy in boarding school and cutting off all his hair,” “My sons are serving their country by helping me get elected,” is so insensitive that despite BILLIONS of dollars being spent, more Americans rejected that position than embraced it—in the middle of the worst recession since 1934. A mannequin would have pulled more votes, simply by being quiet.

      So I’ll post your “non-idealist intelligent adult” post, which is really a shill job for creepy people like the Koch brothers. Because the more that people who think like you get their opinion out, the more the rest of us will be able to do to solve our real problems: poverty, the prison-industrial complex and the systemic abuse of poor people, including the people who were allowed to come here—without documents—to work the menial jobs that nobody else would take. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • RE: CEO’s telling the truth.

        What does “that kind of thinking” and “telling the truth” have to do with winning an election, Luke? You remember and (mis)quote some of Romney’s gaffes, I remember Obama telling San Fran fatcats, in Jan ’08, I believe, that “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” and rural people “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment”. And when did he explain to the sycophantic press that Republicans “can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back”?

        Remember when Obama claimed we’d remember that this is the day we “began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”? I do. And I also remember recently reading that France is trying to do some minor downgrading of their cradle-to-grave welfare policies to encourage and grow mid-size business.

        In France, I’m told, there are very few companies with more than 49 employees because an outfit that employs 50 or more is in a separate hire/fire legal category and is nearly prohibited by law and regulation from letting an employee go. I see little difference between a French plethora of 49 employee firms and a future American flood of 30-hour part-time jobs. Fascism, as I understand it, is a more formal and legalized version of crony capitalism, with the government controlling, but not owning, the means of service and production; Mackey’s words seem fairly accurate, to me.

        You, on the other hand, seem angry. “So I’ll post your “non-idealist intelligent adult” post, which is really a shill job for creepy people like the Koch brothers…”? What? Neither Mackey nor Alma mentioned Romney or the Kochs; are you some angry hack introducing straw men into the discussion so you can feel all progressively righteous as you angrily hack away?

        Yes, you are. And I am glad you are. As with the Wahabist Muslims, or our local Amish, I prefer straight-up distrust, antipathy, and even hate to minced words and mealy-mouthed mumbling. I believe I understand you and your point of view rather well, sir, and I appreciate your willingness to open up.

        • Luke Visconti

          Glad to see you’re still reading us, Andy. Regarding your comment: Guess we were all bamboozled. My mistake. Hope you had a pleasant Inauguration Day and a peaceful Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well.

          I agree with you about opening up. I also prefer to know who I’m dealing with.

          Along those lines, did the Kochs stop paying for getting (shill-job) posts published? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

          • If the Koch boys are paying for posts they like, mine ain’t made the grade yet.

          • Luke Visconti

            You must have missed that memo. Not getting paid makes your comments more valuable to me—but I’m not going to pay for them either. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • No, he isn’t “telling the truth, but that’s not even the point right now.

      Whole Foods needs to have their customer load cut while they do some serious thinking about the consequences of not taking proper care of their employees and of reverse-breaking federal law.

      Raise your prices the same way you were going to do anyway to pad CEOs million-dollar pockets and take care of your most valuable asset instead … your workers.

      Just do the right thing, Whole Foods, and bite it.

  • This is nothing new. If he is already paying benefits for his FT employees what is going to change? I can see if you aren’t offering benefits, but if you do what’s the problem? Excuses.

  • Possibly I am not understanding something. Whole Foods is expensive, more expensive than other stores for the same products. Foe example, a name brand almond butter was $15 at Whole Foods and $6 at Wegmans, same product, same size. Where is the profit from these high prices? If they cannot afford to pay health insurance for their employees, what are they really doing with the money they are making?

  • I think your article is very unfair, you and other media are crucifying John Mackey for just being honest. He could use nice and fluffy words and pretend that at the end of the day its not going to cost workers more, but he didn’t he told the brutally honest truth, is going to cost workers more, be this for better or worse.

    • Whole Foods isn’t known as “Whole Paycheck” for nothing. It’s extremely expensive to shop there, and despite all the “socially responsible”
      corporate messaging, there are plenty of non-organic things trucked and flown from all over the place in their stores. John Mackey is a very successful entrepreneur, but his messaging is contradictory. It’s an indication of the kind of bull-headed thinking that has the potential to damage corporate reputation and erode or destroy shareholder wealth. Check out the controversy over 1,4 Dioxane.
      -Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • To some extent I agree with you James. But I don’t think here, in this article they are pulling John’s leg (from my point).

      I think to some extent obamacare doing good. (Am not sure though, am not from US :))

  • Valerie Heath-Harrison

    Many corporate owners and their boards apparently do not want to pay benefits or a living wage because they would rather keep their profits as high as possible. This is why the costs get passed down to the employees and customers. I shopped at Whole Foods once, but never went back because of the cost. Now, I will never shop at Whole Foods ever again and not just because of the cost but because of John Mackey’s stance.

    • Luke Visconti

      What most people don’t know is that the minimum wage represents a subsidy from the taxpayer to the billionaires at Disney, McDonald’s, Whole Foods and others that pay below-sustenance wages. We taxpayers get to pick up oligarch slack by paying for Section 8, WIC and other programs that support the working poor. It’s disgusting and the “free market” Tea Party and others of the “self determination” Ayn Rand high school philosophy department simplests are nowhere to be found on this subject because the Koch brothers haven’t given them a sound bite. The fact is that the “free market” minimum wage is really about $20 per hour.

      Pricing the salt/fat/sugar garbage McDonald’s foists on its diners at true market rate might cut into the $6 billion in profit that McDonald’s made last year—so be it. I’d go even further and propose a surcharge for unhealthy food to pay for all the heart disease and hypertension it causes. Why should the taxpayers pay for that as well? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • At least McDonald’s doesn’t suffer from the hypocritical, holier-than-thou, pretentiousness of Whole Foods!

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