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CCAC trims staff hours due to Obamacare cost

Four hundred part-time employees, including adjunct professors, at the Community College of Allegheny County learned two weeks ago they will have less to be thankful for next November as the college is cutting their hours to avoid $6 million in costs associated with the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.

The new law redefines full-time positions as 30 or more hours per week, rather than the traditional 40 hours, and requires employers to provide health insurance for full-time workers, or pay a penalty.

CCAC President Alex Johnson told Allegheny County Council Nov. 14 the move was needed because the school, which has raised tuition prices twice in the last year, faces as much as a $2.3 million reduction in state funding. Its current budget is $110 million. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has also proposed a $1.7 million cut in the County’s allocation.

In his Nov. 13 email to employees informing them of the change, Johnson said the decision was not an easy one.

“I know how difficult this situation is, particularly for our longstanding and loyal part-time employees. These CCAC family members have been key to ensuring the vitality of the college’s programs and services,” he wrote. “But, I must comply with the law and ensure that the financial situation of the college remains viable. So, I have asked the Campus Presidents and the colleges’ Vice Presidents to implement this decision and to keep you informed as we move forward.”

Part-time employees will be limited to 25 hours per week and adjunct professors will be able to teach no more than 10 credit hours per semester, down from 12 hours. They are currently paid $730 per credit hour.

Spokesman for the College David Hoovler said though the law’s provisions are not in force until January 2014, the government can look back one year to check compliance. The combination of funding cuts and coverage mandates, he said, left no affordable option.

“While it is of course the college’s preference to provide coverage to these positions, there simply are not funds available to do so,” he said. “Several years of cuts or largely flat funding from our government supporters have led to significant cost reductions by CCAC, leaving little room to trim the college’s budget further.”

Some support staff are represented by the Service Employees International Union and are already covered by the college.

The college is not alone. Several restaurant chains, including Denny’s had previously announced similar part-time cuts, and on Nov. 26 the city of Cedar Falls, Iowa said it too would cut back on its part-time employees’ hours in order to save more than $850,000 in compliance costs.

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