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Gov. Brown discusses labor standards
It was a meeting they did not expect to happen, but two Orland men met with Gov. Jerry Brown this week to discuss labor enforcement rules and economic development.
Businessman Jose Nunez and former Mayor Mike Yalow joined three other North State business owners and Assemblyman Dan Logue at the Capitol on Tuesday in the face-to-face meeting with Brown.
Christy Edwards of Louis Cairo's Restaurant in Williams also attended along with business owners from Chico and Biggs.
Of concern is the way labor standards enforcement has been done in recent years — with fines resulting in financial hardship and business closures, Yalow said Thursday.
Nunez was fined $3,000 about four years ago for not having a work permit in the file of a teenage employee who was hired through a school occupational program. The school agency had the paperwork, he said.
That case remains in litigation, he said, so he could not add more details at this time.
However, other business owners have been fined $20,000 to $100,000 for alleged violations which has put many out of business, Yalow said.
Even those whose fines were rescinded have been out $20,000 to $50,000 in attorney fees for defending their cases, he said, which sometimes were more than the fine.
"The meeting with the governor was the most productive meeting I've ever been to in my life," Yalow added.
He and Nunez both agreed Brown sincerely wanted to hear what they had to say and talked about a lot of things related to economic development and reforms.
This meeting came about following another meeting Logue hosted in Chico last July attended by business people and local elected officials from around the region.
There, California Labor Commissioner Julie Su heard from Nunez and other business owners upset with how labor rules were enforced out the agency's Redding office.
She later brought these concerns to Brown, Yalow said, and this led to their trip to Sacramento.
Su also attended Tuesday's meeting with Brown.
The hour and half meeting was very professional and allowed for solutions to be presented, Yalow said.
One potential solution was to use a "Fix it" ticket instead of issuing a multi thousand fine for minor infractions, he said.
Another is to provide better education to business owners and start ups about the many facets of running a business.
Workshops could be set up at different regional and county locations to supply information on a variety of business matters.
Check lists from cities and counties that includes information on regulatory concerns, health and safety issues and contact areas are needed when owners apply for business permits, Yalow said.
There is a dramatic learning curve when opening a business and hiring employees, he said, and many people could use more help in navigating the regulatory process.
"I felt great," Nunez said. "I think he (Brown) is going to fight to help establish something that will help small business owners."
Nunez also brought up the fact money generated by small businesses stays in the community and California while money taken by store chains usually goes out of state, Yalow said.
"I know we are going to get some action — legislation that makes some sense for small business," Yalow said.
Yalow maintains the economy is not helped when small businesses close due to regulatory fines.
It puts employees out of work, he said, along with the business owner.
Logue arranged Tuesday's meeting at Brown's request.
"I was very encouraged and I think our small business owners were too with the opportunity to sit down with Governor and have a conversation about job creation and express our concerns about labor law standards," Logue said, in a written statement. "We need to make sure that businesses are not stymied by over-regulation as we struggle to come out of this recession."
He added Su agreed to coordinate regulatory compliance seminars in the North State to aid small business owners, and Brown acknowledged more can be done and committed to working to improve state agency responsiveness and accountability.