The good news for Contra Costa County in California was that they were getting a brand spanking new call center, which would provide more than 200 good paying jobs. It was part of the support network for Obamacare… a place where people could call at any time with questions. The call center in Concord is gearing up for full operation in October, but recent revelations in the news have put a fly in the ointment.
Now, with two months to go before the Concord operation opens to serve the public, information has surfaced that about half the jobs are part-time, with no health benefits — a stinging disappointment to workers and local politicians who believed the positions would be full-time.
The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process — which attracted about 7,000 applicants — a “comedy of errors.”
“The battle for the call center was over jobs with good working wages and benefits; I never dreamed they would be part-time,” said Karen Mitchoff, who has heard from complaining constituents and expressed her “extreme displeasure with how it was handled” to call center supervisors.
One recent hire, who last week learned the job would be part-time, said the new “intermittent” employees feel like they’ve been used as a political tool, and many now regret applying for the positions.
“What’s really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can’t afford it ourselves,” said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job.
This story isn’t funny for the workers – or the rest of the 7,000 who applied for the 200 jobs and didn’t get them – but it does highlight some of the futility of the federal government when they attempt to exert this level of control over a complex, nationwide system. It also brings us full circle back to some of the previous jobs report numbers which fail to note how many of the “recovery” jobs wind up being part time or intermittent employment. These workers figured to be one of the few segments of American society who would be direct and substantial beneficiaries of Obamacare by getting jobs straight from the gift horse’s mouth.
How this jobs program wound up going off the rails and turning into a part time gig for so many of the workers isn’t anything directly to do with Obamacare.The reality is that local bureaucracy – with a big helping hand from the unions – managed to mess things up.
Contra Costa was selected early on by the state to run the call center, but the deal mandated the county run the operation itself, with state funding, or lose it to another county. Once Contra Costa secured the call center, Concord and Richmond battled for the right to host it. Unions nearly derailed the project before some last-minute wrangling to ensure workers weren’t transferred needlessly and would receive appropriate benefits.
Just another ringing success story from the Affordable Care Act, as it spreads its love from sea to shining sea.