Gioiello criticizes Lauretti for limiting part-time employee hours

Democratic mayoral challenger David Gioiello is criticizing Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti for limiting the hours of the city’s part-time employees to make sure they aren’t eligible for municipal healthcare benefits under Obamacare.

“It’s consistent with the mayor’s philosophy of treating employees,” Gioiello said.

At a Monday press conference, Gioiello said Lauretti had issued a memo to department heads telling them part-time employees’ hours can’t exceed 29 hours a week.

He said this is below “the magic number” that would qualify the workers to get healthcare insurance through the city under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

“It’s just not the way to treat people,” said Gioiello, adding these employees wouldn’t become eligible for healthcare coverage until July 1, 2014 anyway — even if they worked more hours — because that’s when the city’s insurance policy is up for renewal.

Possible impact on services

Gioiello said Lauretti’s “edict” will affect such operations as the Shelton Community Center, senior center, library system, and Highways and Bridges Department.

He said it will impact the services offered by these agencies. While campaigning door to door, some residents — such as those who use the community center — have expressed concerns about services being reduced due to fewer part-time employee hours, according to Gioiello.

Gioiello said Lauretti’s decision is part of the mayor’s attempt “to take Shelton and make it the teapot of the Tea Party.”

Lauretti: ‘He should call the president’

In reaction, Lauretti said the ramifications of the new federal healthcare law are indeed why he issued the directive limiting hours.

"It’s Obamacare,” Lauretti said. “It says anyone over 30 hours must have healthcare.”

He said the reason he acted now was because the ACA “has a look-back period of six months,” meaning an employees’ hours will be calculated on a retroactive basis.

If Gioiello is upset about his decision, "he should call the president,” the mayor said.

City has 300 part-time workers

Lauretti said the city has 300 part-time employees, including some who are seasonal, and they do not get healthcare benefits from the city now.

He said most private businesses don’t offer healthcare to part-time workers, especially those working on a seasonal basis, and the city shouldn’t have to do so either.

While providing healthcare might be ideal, it’s not practical for part-time employees due to the cost, Lauretti said. “It’s all about dollars and cents,” he said.

Lauretti said Gioiello’s comments show his opponent doesn’t understand how to run a municipality. “He’s demonstrating his lack of knowledge on fiscal responsibility and how a city operates,” Lauretti said.

Impact on incomes

Gioiello said the reduction in hours will negatively impact people’s incomes, “representing up to a 25% decrease in their salary” for some of the workers.

Lauretti said the new policy would affect about two dozen employees. “Only 20 to 25 people would be impacted by this cutback in hours,” he said.

Past business practices

Gioiello also used the mayor’s decision on part-time worker hours to condemn Lauretti’s past business practices as a restaurant owner.

He claimed while running a restaurant, Lauretti had classified his workers as contractors and not employees to avoid certain obligations, and allegedly was fined by the IRS for his actions.

“This is how he treats people,” Gioiello said.

Lauretti said this criticism by Gioiello is symbolic of a campaign focusing on negative personal attacks.

“They are more interested in demonizing me than in how to run the city better,” he said. “It’s all personal with these guys.”