You could see it coming right up Nicollet Mall

Part-time employee at Target? No health insurance plan for you:

Target Corp. said Tuesday that it will stop offering health insurance to its part-time employees because new online health exchanges offer workers an opportunity to buy coverage.The Minneapolis-based retailer will give each worker $500 to help buy health insurance, and has arranged for one-on-one consultations with benefits manager Towers Watson to help with the transition.The retailer announced the decision through its online site, “A Bullseye View: Behind the Scenes at Target,” in a Q&A with Jodee Kozlak, Target’s executive vice president of human resources.In the article, Kozlak acknowledged the disruption to workers. But she said the exchanges might offer options that some workers will prefer, and noted that those who qualify for subsidies and tax credits could find insurance that is less expensive than their current plan offered by Target.

A few thoughts:

  • I put in nearly a decade at Target and while they offered health plans to part-timers, it was never very attractive coverage, which isn’t surprising. Just the administrative hassle involved in administering a program for part-timers was more than most companies would want to have.
  • I kinda doubt Kozlak’s assertion that the exchanges will offer better plans, though. It’s not cost-effective for any insurer to offer such coverage and it tends to be priced accordingly.
  • The subsidies and tax credits might help some, but at bottom that’s money that someone else is going to provide. If you’re wondering who that someone is, grab a mirror. And if you’re surprised by that, make sure you can fog the mirror.

It’s never a Target labor article unless we hear from Bernie Hesse, the schlub who has been trying to organize Target for decades. He’s such an effective spokesman that the Star Tribune couldn’t even spell his name correctly in the article:

But Twin Cities union organizer Bernie Hess sees the move to shift workers to public exchanges as part of “a disturbing trend” among retailers. He fears that low-wage workers, many of whom qualify for public health programs, will have their hours limited because corporations can get off the hook financially by sending people to the exchanges.“All of a sudden where you used to work 31 hours a week, it’ll be cut to 28 hours or less — and that’s a huge hit,” said Hess, of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in St. Paul. “You’ll see a department that might have one or two real full-timers and the rest will be these perpetual part-time people who will never have a chance for full-time hours because Target is looking at everyone as a cost.”

I can assure you that Target looks at everyone as a cost. They always have. All businesses do. And all businesses respond to incentives. If it’s going to cost a business significantly more to keep someone on for an extra 2-3 hours a week, that person had better deliver significant value for those extra 2-3 hours. This isn’t a revelation to anyone who thinks about the matter for more than a minute. Ol’ Bernie isn’t gonna solve that problem for anyone.