Obama picks a fight with Staples, retail giant hits back: ‘Shame on them’

Staples took a shot at President Obama Wednesday after he attacked the office supply giant for telling part-time employees they may be fired if they work more than 25 hours per week.

Obama lashed out at the chain, incorrectly believing that this store policy was directly related to his unpopular Obamacare law.

“I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security,” Obama told BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith. “If they can’t, then they should be willing to allow those workers to get the Affordable Care Act without cutting wages.”

Obama then managed to tie the issue in to paid sick leave.

“It’s one thing when you’ve got a mom and pop store who can’t afford to provide paid sick leave or health insurance or minimum wage to workers, even though a large percentage of those small businesses do it because they know it’s the right thing to do,” Obama said. “When I hear large corporations that make billions of dollars in profits trying to blame our interest in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, shame on them.”

Staples had a perfect response for the president in a statement sent to BPR from Mark Cautela Sr.,public relations manager for Staples:

The president, Cautela wrote, didn’t know what he was talking about.

Unfortunately, the president appears not to have all the facts. The initial story was misleading as our policy regarding hours for part-time employees is more than a decade old. It predates the Affordable Care Act by several years.

We are very proud of our associates and offer competitive wages and benefits. Staples is a leader in helping associates build a secure future. In fact, we were recently recognized by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for our leadership in helping associates plan for a secure retirement. Staples offers a range of benefits to part-time associates and provides tools and resources to help associates navigate insurance exchanges and access health care through marketplace options. Staples also offers many opportunities for hourly associates to advance into full-time and management positions. It’s unfortunate that the president is attacking a company that provides more than 85,000 jobs and is a major taxpayer.

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Carmine Sabia


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