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Earlier this year, Contra Costa County won the right to run a health care call center, where workers will answer questions to help implement the president’s Affordable Care Act. Area politicians called the 200-plus jobs it would bring to the region an economic coup.

Now, with two months to go before the Concord operation opens to serve the public, information has surfaced that about half the jobs are part-time, with no health benefits — a stinging disappointment to workers and local politicians who believed the positions would be full-time.

The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process — which attracted about 7,000 applicants — a “comedy of errors.”

“The battle for the call center was over jobs with good working wages and benefits; I never dreamed they would be part-time,” said Karen Mitchoff, who has heard from complaining constituents and expressed her “extreme displeasure with how it was handled” to call center supervisors.

One recent hire, who last week learned the job would be part-time, said the new “intermittent” employees feel like they’ve been used as a political tool, and many now regret applying for the positions.

“What’s really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can’t afford it ourselves,” said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job. The county says it had been telling the public and supervisors all along that some positions would be full-time and some part-time. However, portions of staff reports list all 204 jobs as full-time, and a job posting said the same.

It’s the latest controversy involving the call center, one of three created statewide to help citizens enroll in various new health care options under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act when it goes live at the start of next year.

Read More:  http://www.contracostatimes.com