Last week in this space, I wrote about a guy known publicly as “Atlas Shrugged Guy,” who had vowed to fire his employees and shut down his business if President Obama won re-election. “Don’t be that guy,” I wrote, thinking that surely there could only be one “that guy” cruel and obnoxious enough to punish his own employees because the wrong guy won an election. Boy, was I wrong.
Meet John Metz, a restaurant owner in West Palm Beach, Florida, who runs about 80 restaurants, including many Denny’s locations. Metz says he’s adding a 5% surcharge on every customer’s bill, and reducing his employees’ hours. He also gallantly suggests that customers can go ahead and subtract the surcharge from their tips. “If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare,” he told the Huffington Post. “Although it may sound terrible that I’m doing this [ed. note: YEP], it’s the only alternative. I’ve got to pass the cost on to the consumer.”
Now meet Robert Murray, Romney supporter and CEO of a major coal company. Murray announced last week that he would lay off about 160 employees, and blamed Obama’s victory for the decision.
Now meet Papa John’s CEO John Schattner (above) who announced the day after the election that many of his franchisees could slash employees’ hours to pay for the supposedly devastating financial effects of the president’s health-care law. ”That’s probably what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s common sense. That’s what I call lose-lose.”
And how about Zane Tankel, whose company owns 40 Applebee’s franchises. He said last week, “We’ve calculated it will [cost] some millions of dollars across our system. So what does that say — that says we won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people.” (The president of Applebee’s quickly responded with a press release pointing out that Tankel recently opened up one new restaurant with 200 employees and planned to open a similar location next month. In other words, he seems to be doing just fine.)
You get the picture. What do all of these jerkwads have in common? It’s not that they’re making tough business decisions. That’s kinda what it means to be a business owner, Republican or Democrat, industry leader or startup. No, the reason they are jerkwads is that they’re turning their employees — many of them very low-paid — into political pawns, and toying with their futures in the press. It remains to be seen if all of these men will actually lay off employees, or if they’re just scoring points for their own political team. Either way, don’t be those guys.