Regal Cinema sees backlash over Obamacare cuts

Moviegoers are vowing to boycott the country's biggest theater chain after it slashes employees' hours to avoid the new law.

By Aimee Picchi Apr 18, 2013 10:58AM

File photo of a Regal Cinemas marquee in Bossier City, Louisiana (© Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis)Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) is finding itself at the center of a drama worthy of a big-screen blockbuster. 


The country's biggest movie theater chain has stirred a hornets' nest of controversy after announcing in a company memo that it's cutting hours for thousands of nonsalaried employees to avoid providing health care insurance under Obamacare, according to Fox News.


But that isn't going over well with some customers, who point to Regal's hefty $334 million in 2012 profits and its chief executive's massive 31% pay hike. The company's shares rose 17% last year.


"SHAME on you for cutting employees' hours to avoid giving them healthcare while your CEO made $4.4 million and other executives were given large bonuses. You lose my business," one person wrote on Regal's Facebook page. 


Chief executive Amy Miles earned $4.45 million in 2012, up from $3.4 million in the previous year, according to a regulatory filing. 


Many people writing on Regal's Facebook page vowed to stop attending films at its theaters, which operate under the Regal, Edwards and United Artists brands. Another wrote, "It is so sad to see companies work so hard to keep from treating their employees fairly. The greedy people at the top forget who makes them rich. Shame on you. I for one will find other movie houses to attend shows from now on."


Obamacare has become a lightning rod among American business owners, with some fast-food franchisees saying they'll have to delay expansion plans or charge more for their food, for example. Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) is lobbying the government to change its definition of "full time" to employees working at least 40 hours a week instead of the law's current 30 hours a week. 


But Regal Cinemas might be at the receiving end of one of the worst consumer backlashes yet. It's one of only a handful of companies to announce definitively how it plans to cope with the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect next year. Other companies planning cutbacks because of Obamacare include Applebee's and Denny's (DENN), which both suffered from poor brand perception afterward, according to a December report from Today.com.


Regal is also facing pushback from employees, according to Fox News. After getting their hours cut by 25% or more, some full-time managers have resigned, the story notes. 


According to a memo obtained by Fox News, Regal advised managers to tell affected employees that "to comply with the Affordable Care Act, Regal had to increase our health care budget to cover those newly deemed eligible based on the law's definition of a full-time employee. To manage this budget, all other employees will be scheduled in accord with business needs and in a manner that will not negatively impact our health care budget."


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.


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1300Comments
Apr 18, 2013 11:36AM
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Everyone wants to blame the businesses, no one wants to blame the idiot who created this mess.  Figures.
Apr 18, 2013 11:46AM
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Wow, who saw this coming?   Oh, that's right, everyone EXCEPT the Congresspeople (cough...Pelosi...cough...Reid) that pushed it through.  They had to wait to pass it to see what was in it.
Apr 18, 2013 12:16PM
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And once again obamacare continues to hurt the poor and middle class the most...

Apr 18, 2013 12:38PM
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Do these people think Regal is the only chain doing this? So far they are the only one with enough guts to admit it publicly. And after seeing the backlash it caused, why would any business in the same position make it public? It's coming whether you hear about it or not.
Apr 18, 2013 11:38AM
Apr 18, 2013 11:47AM
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This was Obama's plan all along. Divide and conquer.
Apr 18, 2013 12:10PM
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This is what the people voted for and this is what they're gonna get.  I've been in business and i knew this was coming.  You did well America.  Expect full-time to become extinct.
Apr 18, 2013 12:45PM
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Liberals are like sharks in the bloody water.....now nobody's gonna have a job at Regal Cinemas.  This is how liberals operate.  First they take your money and tell you it's not enough.  They blame you for not giving them more.  Then they tell you what you can afford to pay for taxes.  They tell you what you can afford to pay for health insurance.  They tell you what you should be earning, and what you should be sharing.  They declare if you don't like their rules you will be publicly shamed.  They loudly proclaim if you don't like their rules you will be boycotted.  All the while not realizing at all how their 'bullying' tactics impact the businesses bottom line, nor the employees working for that bottom line.  The liberals ONLY care about YOU getting in the PROPER DESIGNATED place in the line!
Apr 18, 2013 12:33PM
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if you want too save money get rid of congress and the senate
Apr 18, 2013 1:11PM
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Oftentimes sweeping federal tax legislation that is over reaching and complex has public reactions other than just the effect of paying and receiving money.  These types of laws change behaviors - both on the level of business competition and personal behaviors.  For example....if one woman can bring a child into the world and pay nothing or nearly nothing for medicine, nothing for the kid's insurance, pre-natal care, maternity coverage, food & diapers, child-care while another is required to pay thousands and thousands a year for premiums because she works, and is required to pay a few thousand more out of pocket for maternity coverage, and has to meet a deductible before medicine is covered, and pays for her own child care, and pays for food & diapers out of her own wages.  Which of these two persons is mostly likely to have a child?  Which of these two persons is most likely to have more than one child?  This law is more than just shifting money around - it's about effective behavior training 'en masse'.

Apr 18, 2013 12:28PM
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I am NOT going to boycott them for making a very valid Business decision.  That, not politics, is their job.  They should do whatever is the right thing to do for their business and everyone else who tries to exert their personal will upon others are not "liberal", they are extremists....trying to usurp other's rights merely to impose their own upon unwilling others.  Liberals are not understanding nor are they accepting of others....they only are accepting of their own opinions.  They do not truly recognize diversity....not true diversity....the differences of others...they oppose them and only really accept their own PC version of "diversity".  
Apr 18, 2013 12:30PM
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What nonsense.  Here we have a business entity trying to deal with the realities that obamacare present.  Only to get lambasted by the ignorant media who only helped to exacerbate the problem.

 

Ever think that maybe there might be a HOLLYWOOD backlash underway?  I haven't been to a Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, et al movie in 15 years.

 

Apr 18, 2013 12:57PM
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Just the beginning....Its a good time to offshore your employees to avoid ObamaCare and his high taxes - screw it - this is what half the country voted for so give it to them. 
Apr 18, 2013 12:59PM
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The Regal Entertainment Group is a classic example of why more companies are going to remain private, and why more and more publicly traded companies are going to become private.  Who the hell wants all the headaches associated with this crap?  In this economic and political climate, with all the class warfare and all the SEC filings and disclosures and red tape, it makes more sense to stay private.  It also appears that you'll get much less backlash if you deal with Obamacare in a private manner, as a private company.
Apr 18, 2013 11:31AM
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Class warfare is now being taken to a whole new level, and a potentially dangerous one at that.

The ignorant left doesn't seem to understand that the only real way to bring down prices and force companies to treat their employees better is through competition.  Get rid of all these regulations and taxes and mandates and you'll have competing businesses springing up all over the place.  As it stands now, all this gov interference serves only to prevent competition.
Apr 18, 2013 1:29PM
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There are lots of people who think that the government, or in this case a business, should provide more services, but they always want someone else to pay for it.  If Regal asked the average movie-goer if they would support a dollar-per-movie-ticket increase in order to support paying for part-time workers' insurance (because 30 hours per week IS part time, not full time), I'm betting most movie-goers would say no, they'd rather just have the business absorb the cost.  Those same people probably want the government to provide more services, but do they want their taxes to increase?  No.  Do they want other people's taxes to increase to pay for additional services?  Yes.
Apr 18, 2013 12:52PM
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note that the subtitle of the article is written as "Moviegoers are vowing to boycott the country's biggest theater chain after it slashes employees' hours to avoid the new law."

the article seems to be written on the slant of 'ALL moviegoers...' when in actuality the title really should be 'SOME moviegoers...'. 

a business chose to make a decision; its customers will now choose to make their decision.

typical media blathering over a big nothing.
Apr 18, 2013 11:47AM
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Seems to me like class warfare has been going on for decades, until now only one side has been the aggressor, perhaps now that is changing.
Apr 18, 2013 1:51PM
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Funny, most of the employees affected by this likely voted for Obama.   Idiots.  Enjoying what you voted for yet?
Apr 18, 2013 1:52PM
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I support Regal. A law takes things away and when you have a President that has no clue about free enterprise and economics this is what you get
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