Business Focus

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-January 2022

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-January 2022

January 17, 2022

Proud Members of the Gilroy Chamber

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce appreciates the support of our members. Investment dollars are dedicated to vital programs such as economic development, business marketing, leadership programs, and more. We applaud each of you for helping make Gilroy a better place to live and work. To learn more about our members, check out our directory!

30 Years & over

Nob Hill Foods

Rapazzini Winery/The Garlic Shoppe

Taco Bell

Rosso’s Furniture

Vanni & Humphrey, CPAs

Kaiser Permanente

Princevalle Pet Hospital

Gilroy Exchange Club

Greenstreak Landscaping

20 Years & over

Blossom Valley Foods

California Rodeo

Coldwell Banker, Gilroy

Excel Auto Body & Paint

Simmitri

van Keulen & van Keulen

Aitken Associates Landscape Architects

Banning’s Upholstery

Vanni Properties

10 Years & over

COMP Connection

Bruce’s Tire

Jane’s Answering Service

5 Years and over

Somark L.P.

Eden Housing

Ira B. Marshall, Reg. Investment Advisor

Motel 6

Patterson Media

 

Gilroy Chamber Opposes Massive Tax Increase Recommended by Governor and Legislators

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce along with the CalChamber and other business organizations oppose AB 1400 and ACA 11 for numerous reasons including the tax increases to individuals and businesses; negative effects on business attraction and economic development; delays, and potential denials in medical care; not to mention the increased exodus of residents and businesses already leaving California. Below is an article from CalChamber regarding AB 1400 and ACA 11.

The California Chamber of Commerce has tagged AB 1400 (Kalra, Lee and Santiago) and ACA 11 (Kalra and Lee) as its first Job Killer bills of 2022. The bills would create and finance a new single payer health care system called CalCare.

“Single payer health care is not free health care,” said CalChamber Policy Advocate Preston Young. “AB 1400 and ACA 11 would not only ruin quality health care delivery in the state but create the largest tax increase in state history. Successfully standing up a new function that would be twice the size of the existing state budget is highly doubtful, given the state’s recent experience with benefit delays and massive fraud in the unemployment system.”

According to a letter sent yesterday by CalChamber to the bills’ authors, if ACA 11 were enacted, California’s top personal income tax rate for individuals and sole proprietors—already the highest in the country—would increase by 2.5%. Additionally, ACA 11 would implement a payroll tax of 1% of the aggregate amount of wages or other compensation paid by the employer to resident employees in excess of $49,900, and a gross receipts tax of 2.3% on businesses with more than $2 million in gross revenues.

“Certainly, the kinds of tax increases necessary to finance AB 1400 would detrimentally impact California businesses and discourage companies from growing or relocating here,” said Young. “It would likely lead to significant layoffs or relocations as existing businesses and employers would be forced to cut costs to sustain the added new tax burden.”

Proponents of the measure recently indicated that the cost of tax increases required for this single payer health care to be between $160–$170 billion. Prior versions of similar single payer proposals were estimated to cost more than $400 billion, including existing state and federal tax contributions.

California voters have twice rejected a government-run health care system at the ballot box—in 1994 and 2004.

Currently, 94% of Californians have health care coverage in some fashion. A majority of the uninsured population is comprised of undocumented individuals. Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal addresses this very issue and would make California the first state to offer health care coverage for all income-eligible residents regardless of immigration status.

South County Wastewater Readings Show a Decline in Virus

Article by the Gilroy Dispatch

Santa Clara County Public Health data shows that the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases stands at 4,231, the highest it has been since the onset of the pandemic nearly two years ago and double the previous record in January 2021.

However, preliminary data shows deaths in the county are occurring at a far less frequent rate, with five reported from Dec. 21-29, compared to 181 during the same period in 2020. Hospitalizations, at 443, are a little more than half of the number during the peak in January 2021.

Samples of wastewater in South County show some encouraging signs, as the quantity of SARS-CoV-2 genes, the virus that causes Covid-19, has taken a dive since reaching a peak on Jan. 6, and are on par with levels taken on Dec. 30.

Researchers have determined that as virus levels rise or fall in the region’s wastewater, so too do the number of reported cases.

Where There Is Darkness, Let There Be Light

Article Submitted by John Taft, Gilroy Downtown Business Association Board Member

Ever wonder about all the dark buildings downtown that are boarded up and empty? 

Ever think the economic and business conditions downtown must not be very good?

Ever think the property owners have mismanaged the property or don’t care about downtown?

Ever wonder why the City of Gilroy doesn’t do anything about it?

All good questions that deserve an answer.

The simple answer is that these dark buildings cannot be occupied because they do not have sufficient electric power available to allow them to be occupied.  While the answer is relatively simple; the underlying cause is complex, and an unintended consequence of decisions made more than fifteen years ago. The affected buildings were classified as unreinforced masonry buildings by the City of Gilroy in compliance with state law in 1986. In 2006, the City of Gilroy ordered the URM buildings emptied and prohibited occupancy unless the retrofit was completed to force the retrofit efforts. They also instructed PG&E to disconnect service to the buildings to prevent unauthorized utilization or habitation by the homeless.  As the retrofit efforts were completed, the property owners requested the power to be restored and herein lies the problem.

Over the years, the alleyway had become so crowded with underground services that it is very difficult to comply with both PG&E and the City of Gilroy policies and best practices. Coupled with the new businesses’ increased power needs, placing the required underground transformers in Gourmet Alley is not possible. The good news is that by working with PG&E and the property owners, the Gilroy Downtown Business Association has tentatively reached an agreement with PG&E to allow multiple properties to locate a shared transformer on private property. Now there is a path forward and the community will see many changes downtown in 2022.

 

 

Single-Payer Healthcare Makes a California Comeback

Article by the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal

In case you think falling popularity has Democrats questioning their progressive agenda, guess again. California Democrats are busy reviving government-run, single-payer health care, despite its failure in the state five years ago.

Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigned on single-payer in 2018, and it passed the state Senate in 2017. But it collapsed in the more conservative Assembly because it didn’t include funding to pay for its estimated $400 billion annual cost. It also would have required Medicare and Medicaid waivers from the Trump Health and Human Services Department. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon called the bill “woefully incomplete.”

Now progressives are completing it with gargantuan tax increases. Their revived legislation would replace Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance with a state-run system and eliminate co-pays, deductibles and premiums. Californians would also be entitled to an expansive list of benefits including vision, dental, hearing and long-term care.

A board of bureaucrats would control costs—i.e., ration care. Deliberations about rationing decisions would be concealed from the public. The legislation “imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies” in order to “protect private, confidential, and proprietary information.” While Californians would technically be entitled to a “free” knee replacement, they might not get one if bureaucrats consider them too old—but the state won’t let people know that’s the reason.

 

Santa Clara County’s Top 15 Taxpayers

Just released! The Santa Clara County Office of the Assessor is excited to share the 2021-2022 Annual Report. In the report you will find comprehensive statistical analysis of the local property assessment roll. 

The Assessor’s Annual Report is an important source of information for anyone seeking insights into real estate trends in Santa Clara County. Find out who the Top 15 taxpayers for Santa Clara County are on page 6, or the surprising impact of COVID-19 on assessed values on page 20. If you want to know which city had the biggest net assessment growth, look to page 10! Click on this link to the Assessor’s website to view an online magazine version or download a PDF copy of the report. 

Watch a video of Assessor Larry Stone sharing his insight about this year’s report.

Have questions about this or other property assessment topics? The Assessor’s Office customer service team is available to help. For a list of contacts, frequently asked questions, and useful property assessment resources, visit www.sccassessor.org   

January 10, 2022

“Testing” the New Year in GUSD

Article Submitted by Melanie Corona, Public Information Officer, Gilroy Unified School District

Welcome to 2022!  GUSD schools returned from Winter Break on January 3 and 4, and so far, our schools are one of the safest places to be in the midst of another major surge of COVID19 in our community.  We are doing everything we can to keep our schools safe, which includes:

  • All HVAC systems on our campuses have been professionally serviced and filters are changed every three months. They are on all day, starting two hours before staff and students arrive, and stay on until two hours after they leave.
  • Frequent hand washing for staff and students is emphasized and scheduled throughout the day.
  • While on our campuses, everyone is required to wear masks indoors. We recommend that masks also be worn outdoors as well.
  • Custodians are cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Several vaccination clinics were held in conjunction with the Public Health Department for the Gilroy community. More are planned for 2022.

On January 3, 4, and 8, district staff distributed over 11,400 COVID19 antigen test kits to families. These rapid test kits were provided by the State of California to all public school districts for distribution to students, and have proven to be a useful tool in the detection of the COVID19 virus with the goal of keeping our campuses safe for staff and students.

Finally, Bay Area Community Health is hosting a COVID19 vaccine clinic at Glen View Elementary School on Wednesday, January 12, from 2:30-6:00 pm.  The clinic is located in the MPR, which is can be accessed at W. Ninth Street between Princevalle and Hanna Streets.  Vaccines are available for any eligible person 5 and older, and boosters are available for eligible people 12 and older.  Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent.  Walk-ups are accepted but appointments are highly recommended.  ​You can register online: https://bit.ly/GlenviewES.

 

Gilroy Property Values Continue Rise, Despite Pandemic Woes

Article Submitted By: STAFF REPORT, Gilroy Dispatch

Property values in Gilroy grew at a rate near the county’s average in 2020, rising by 4.45% to $10,265,011,012, according to the 2021-22 Assessor’s Annual Report released by Santa Clara County Tax Assessor Larry Stone’s office on Dec. 13.

Morgan Hill, meanwhile, grew at the second highest rate in the county at 5.63% to $11,480,439,666.

The 2021-22 Santa Clara County assessment roll, including all real and business property, grew by $25.4 billion to a record $576.9 billion, a 4.6 percent increase over the prior year, according to Stone. The annual assessment roll reflects the total net assessed value of all real and business property in the county as of Jan. 1, 2021.

“Looking forward to the next lien date, Jan. 1, 2022, the outlook for a robust recovery appears extremely promising,” Stone wrote in the report. “The pandemic will likely remain an obstacle, but vaccination rates in Santa Clara County are the best in the nation, our business and community leadership has demonstrated a strong and solid commitment to our success.”

The largest drivers of growth this year were changes of ownership and new construction, contributing $14 billion and $6.69 billion, respectively, he wrote. However, new construction declined by 21 percent over the previous year, due to work stoppages and labor and material shortages brought on by the pandemic.

The report provides an executive summary, in addition to detailed countywide information about Santa Clara County’s Assessment Roll, and compares this year’s assessment roll to prior year assessment information. It also provides a snapshot of the market value of transactions between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020, a year heavily impacted by Covid-19.

In addition to comparing the 2021-2022 assessment year to the prior year, the report contains charts chronicling the economic boom that has occurred over the past 10 years.

Additionally, the report provides assessment roll data about each of the county’s 15 cities and the unincorporated portions of the county. It contains assessment data summarized by the type of properties and their assessed values separated, not only by city, but also by school districts. Finally, the report provides a comparison of Santa Clara County’s roll data to other Bay Area counties and California’s largest counties.

“The Annual Report, initially published in 1999, has become an increasingly popular and useful tool for citizens and policymakers,” Stone said.

The Assessor’s Annual Report is available online at sccassessor.org.

One of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development core competencies is to act as a convener for businesses who want to come to Gilroy or stay in Gilroy, and to represent the business community’s interests at all levels of government. As part of our mission, we work closely with the City of Gilroy’s Planning Division.

Want to stay up to date on the current projects happening in Gilroy? The City of Gilroy Planning Department maintains a “Planning Current Project Log” with four different levels in the planning process: currently under consideration, approved but not implemented, permitted for construction and completed. You can find this list of residential and commercial projects by visiting the City’s website: http://www.cityofgilroy.org/298/Development-Activity-Projects

Yes, You Can Have COVID-19 But Test Negative

Article by Lisa M. Krieger, San Jose Mercury News

Rapid antigen tests are quick, cheap and easy. But a new study suggests they can also be wrong, particularly about omicron.

Cupertino native Nick LaRocca found that out the hard way, accidentally infecting a friend after trusting test results that were negative.

“I tried to do everything the right way. I thought everything was good, even though I felt really crappy,” said vaccinated LaRocca, 36. “And I got one of my friends sick. That’s the last thing I wanted. … I was literally walking around infecting people not even knowing it.”

In the new study, antigen tests — such as Quidel’s QuickVue and Abbott’s BinaxNOW, which can be easily used at home – missed detection of COVID-19’s omicron variant during the first early days of infection.

The findings, if confirmed, urge against over-reliance on a tool that has become the cornerstone of reopening in-person businesses, schools and social gatherings. While important, testing should be just one part of a broader preventive strategy of masking, good ventilation and small gatherings, said experts.

The unsettling results are based on an analysis of a small number of workers who took daily tests at various settings, including an unnamed San Francisco corporation and New York City’s Broadway theaters.

The study found that 30 people tested negative using nasal-swab rapid tests during the first two to three days of infection. But the virus was detected in those same individuals using the slower, more expensive and more accurate saliva-based PCR test.

In general, people are less contagious during this very early stage. But the study found that in at least four cases, people unwittingly transmitted the virus to others.

“The policy implication is that rapid antigen tests may not be as fit-for-purpose in routine workplace screening to prevent asymptomatic spread of omicron, compared to prior variants,” concluded the study, conducted by the Covid-19 Sports and Society Working Group and Infectious Economics in New York, a consultant to businesses that are trying to keep staff safe. Published on the preprint server bioRxiv, the study has not been peer reviewed.

Although anecdotal reports of inaccurate results from rapid antigen tests abound, the study offers the first real-world proof that the tests lag in the ability to find infection — and supports lab work by the National Institutes of Health that discovered that the omicron variant is better at evading detection than previous variants.

“Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity,” according to a Dec. 28 announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The new study doesn’t look at the accuracy of the test when used later in illness – for example, whether you’re still infectious days after recovering from symptoms.

It’s the latest anxiety for Californians trying to make decisions about safety, even as tests remain in short supply.

“If confirmed, that’ll render the strategy of testing before a high-risk encounter — ‘let’s test before we visit grandma’ — less reliable,” according to Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at UC San Francisco.

When her vaccinated son suffered from flu-like symptoms last week, Ayesha Charagulla, of San Jose, used a home test kit distributed by his school — and got negative results. But a PCR test later confirmed his COVID diagnosis.

“Luckily, we had isolated him from the beginning. But what percentage of students are going to school who are positive for COVID not knowing that they have it?” she said. “I am concerned whether these take-home tests are really reliable.”

During her illness in the days before Christmas, 22-year-old vaccinated Brittany Prock, of Campbell, was puzzled by three different test results. One rapid antigen test showed a very faint line, suggesting infection. She was relieved when another antigen test, taken only one day later, was negative. But a PCR test confirmed infection.

Marya Cunha’s tests also yielded conflicting results. Her results from a test distributed by a Santa Clara school test site were negative, but two different brands told her she was positive. She worried about exposing her mother, who is immunocompromised.

“The school districts are paying for these tests…but it’s confusing,” she said. “And frustrating, not knowing what to trust. I had a card saying I could go places. What’s the right thing to do?”

In Vallejo, Andrew Martinez had the opposite problem: a “false positive” test result. He spent New Years Eve alone in an isolated bedroom, listening as his family tooted celebratory party horns. And he cancelled $400 worth of work appointments. But a later PCR test showed he was negative.

Abbott Labs stands by its BinaxNOW test, saying that its studies prove that the test can detect the omicron variant as well as all other variants and the original SARS-CoV-2 strain. According to a statement by Quidel, its QuickVue test performs as well with omicron as previous variants.

Antigen tests are excellent at detecting people who are most contagious, concluded a new pre-print study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard. But accuracy declines in people with low levels of virus.

Immunologist Dr. Michael Mina, a longtime advocate of rapid tests, says the tests work when it matters most — when people are highly infectious.

Scientists are now trying to determine why the tests are missing some cases. Compared to other variants, omicron has been shown to infect faster and more efficiently in our bronchi, the two large tubes that carry air from the windpipe to our lungs, so it may be better detected by a saliva swab than a nasal swab.

In the early days of the pandemic, frequent testing could have dramatically altered the course of the pandemic, said University of Colorado Boulder computer scientist Daniel Larremore, who studies COVID testing. “That virus was a different virus — and controlling it was a different proposition,” he said.

But now, faced with the more transmissible omicron variant, other solutions are needed, said Larremore. “That (testing) strategy is simply less effective now, which means we really do need to focus on ‘layering’ with other interventions.”

The new study “strongly suggests that we will be unable to effectively test our way out of the current surge, even if we each had a week’s supply of rapid tests on the counter,” Larremore said.

“Just like wearing a mask, smaller group sizes or better ventilation, antigen tests are part of a layered approach to mitigating omicron’s spread,” he said. “While they don’t work 100% of the time — and nothing short of complete isolation does — they still help us decrease transmission.”

California Dems Revive Universal Health Care Bill

Article by Adam Beam, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — What could be the nation’s first universal health care system found new life on Thursday after California Democrats proposed steep tax hikes to pay for it, prompting strong opposition from insurers, doctors and Republicans at the start of an election year.

Progressives in California’s Democratic-dominated state Legislature have long called for a universal health care system to replace the one that mostly relies on private insurance companies. But their plans have often stalled over questions about how to pay for it in a state with nearly 40 million residents.

Assemblyman Ash Kalra proposed an amendment to the state Constitution that would impose an annual tax of 2.3% on businesses that have at least $2 million in annual revenue, plus a 1.25% tax on payroll for companies with at least 50 employees and a 1% tax for those employers who pay employees at least $49,900.

The plan also includes a series of tax hikes on wealthier people, starting with a 0.5% levy on the income of people who make at least $149,509 per year and ending at a 2.5% income tax for people who make more than $2.48 million per year. The California Taxpayers Association, which opposes the bill, says the plan would increase tax collections by $163 billion per year.

The tax increases have a long way to go before they could become law. First, at least two-thirds of the state Legislature would have to approve them. Then voters would have to OK them in a statewide referendum, possibly this November.

But introducing the tax increases cleared the way for state lawmakers to begin moving a separate bill that would create a universal health care system and set its rules. Democratic leaders scheduled a hearing on that bill next week. And Assemblyman Jim Wood, the influential chair of the Assembly Health Committee, announced he would vote for it — a good sign the bill will make it to the Assembly floor.

Kalra said California, where Democrats dominate state government, “can show the rest of the country how to take care of one another.”

“Will it be easy? Of course not. There is a reason this has been tried and failed many times before,” Kalra said. ”The status quo is powerful and those who benefit from it are extraordinarily wealthy and influential. But we are not here to represent the upholders of the status quo. We are here to represent those who are suffering.”

Democrats hold all statewide offices in California and have a super majority in the state Legislature, meaning they can pass anything they want without Republican votes. But to pay for this universal health care system, Democrats will have to convince voters to approve the tax increases. Republicans argued that won’t be easy given the state’s existing problems.

“It’s a shame that somebody’s bad political calculus could force 40 million Californians into a healthcare system run by the same bureaucrats who can’t figure out how to schedule appointments at the DMV or get unemployment checks issued,” said GOP Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo County.

The bill that would create the universal health care system faces a tight deadline. It must pass the state Assembly by Jan. 31 to have a chance at passing this year. The deadline for the other bill — the one that would pay for everything — is months away.

Universal health care has been debated for decades in the United States, most recently during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary during the campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. But it has never come close to passing in Congress. State lawmakers in Vermont have tried and failed to implement their own universal health care system. And the New York state Legislature has considered a similar plan.

The plan already faces fierce opposition from some of the biggest lobbying groups in the state. The California Chamber of Commerce, the California Hospital Association, the California Medical Association and the California Taxpayers Association all condemned the plan on Thursday and urged lawmakers to reject it.

“This measure would add to the cost of living in California and lead to job losses, without any guarantee that the $163 billion in new taxes would benefit anyone,” said Robert Gutierrez, president of the California Taxpayers Association.

Protect California Health Care, a coalition that includes the California Medical Association, which represents doctors, and the California Hospital Association, warned the plan would remove “any choice for anyone who might want to select private coverage or opt out.”

“The cost to Californians is unfathomable,” spokesman Ned Wigglesworth said.

Kalra said he knows insurers, some health providers and business groups will focus on the tax increase to try and defeat the plan. But he said “what those groups don’t want to tell you is how much they are charging you right now for health care.”

Kalra said the average employer pays 9.9% of payroll for health care, a figure he said would fall to 1.25% under his plan. He said the average worker making $75,000 per year pays 2.5% of their paycheck to health care, or about $1,875. His plan, he said, would drop that to $250 per year with no deductibles or copays.

“I think that is a hell of a bargain for employers and an even bigger bargain for the workers,” he said.

Wood, the Democratic chair of the Assembly Health Committee, said he still has concerns about the plan.

He said it won’t solve all of the state’s problems. But in announcing he would vote for the bill, he said he echoed the growing frustration of his constituents he said are angry at insurance companies that “tell people what they can and cannot have” and “physicians (that) do not want their decisions or fees questioned by anyone.”

“We have a plethora of health care industry players that I have worked with over the years and, at times, we have made progress with their collaboration and support,” Wood said. “But my experience is that when they push to maintain the status quo, they have lost their way in supporting Californians who depend on them to keep them healthy.”

January 3, 2022

Visit Gilroy Sponsors Social Media Influencers

Article Submitted by:  Visit Gilroy

Visit Gilroy was pleased to welcome three social media influencers to Gilroy this fall. We sponsored these digital influencers between September and November of 2021. Our marketing team at Articulate Solutions helped arrange their itineraries with our local businesses. They visited various Gilroy attractions, hotels, restaurants, shops, and wineries and shared firsthand experiences with their followers. Their social media platforms included Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and their personal websites and blogs, and Visit Gilroy reshared some postings as well.

The influencers were carefully selected based on their experience, the number and types of followers, and their professionalism. Their combined total of reaches (number of people reached by their posts) was just under 24,000 readers. The average cost per reach was $0.14. We saw the most success with Palm Trees and Pellegrino, a San Diego, California influencer, who gave us the most content for the cost at only $.02 per reach.

Our influencers highlighted Gilroy attractions, including Gilroy Gardens and the Gilroy Ostrich Farm. They dined at a variety of our local restaurants, sampled wine at several of our wineries located on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, shopped at the Gilroy Premium Outlets and our downtown stores, and stayed overnight at our local hotel. Visit Gilroy is so appreciative of all the partners who welcomed these influencers to their businesses and attractions. By highlighting what each of them have to offer this provided the stories/images/videos the influencers shared with thousands of their followers.

Visit Gilroy will be vetting additional digital influencers in 2022 with a goal of inviting one every quarter to visit our destination.

New Health Order Issued for Santa Clara County

The County of Santa Clara Health Officer issued a health order requiring up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination (i.e., both fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 if eligible for a booster) for workers in certain higher-risk settings in light of the rapid surge in cases due to the Omicron variant.

The Health Officer urges all businesses and governmental entities and individuals to follow the recommendations set forth below:

    1. All eligible persons are strongly urged to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
    2. Unless everyone is wearing face masks at all times for the duration of the gathering, individuals should not gather indoors in groups of more than 10 people from outside their household.
    3. Businesses and governmental entities should immediately implement mandatory vaccination requirements for all personnel that require Up-to-Date vaccination as quickly as possible, subject only to the limited exemptions required by law.
    4. Businesses and governmental entities should move operations and activities outdoors where possible, where there is significantly less risk of COVID-19 transmission.  Where this is not possible, ventilation should be maximized.
    5. Businesses and governmental entities should prohibit all personnel who are not Up-to-Date with their vaccination from engaging in any work-related travel to places with rates of COVID-19 higher than the Bay Area region or where community vaccination rates are below the average in the Bay Area region.
    6. Businesses and governmental entities should require all personnel not Up-to-Date with their vaccination to obtain frequent testing for COVID-19 consistent with current local, state, and federal recommendations.  Any person, vaccinated or unvaccinated, who has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should get tested immediately.
    7. Businesses that serve the public, especially those with activities that require patrons to remove their face mask to engage in the business (e.g., restaurants and bars), should require their patrons to be Up-to-Date on their vaccination and show proof of Up-to-Date vaccination prior to entry.

Please click here to read the full order.

How Will California’s Workplace Laws Change in 2022?

BY MARGOT ROOSEVELT STAFF WRITER , Los Angeles Times

DEC. 31, 2021 5 AM PT

Heading into 2022 — and a potential third year of the COVID-19 pandemic — California officials faced a familiar-feeling dilemma.

Help businesses recover from an economic roller coaster by quashing burdensome new mandates?

Or rescue workers with paid sick leave, higher wages and crackdowns on corporate bad behavior?

Given the devastating effects of the last two years on both workers and businesses, the answer had to be all of the above.

Labor advocates point to new measures taking effect in January to toughen enforcement of workplace health and safety rules, outlaw piecework in the garment industry and rein in unsafe speed quotas at warehouses.

“The pandemic created a new consciousness that many men and women go to work every single day and take big risks,” said state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles). “Not just first responders but grocery workers, farmworkers, truckers and garment workers who make protective masks.”

On the other hand, “A lot of proposed mandates on businesses were stopped,” said Jennifer Barrera, president of the California Chamber of Commerce. “There was a level of sensitivity of imposing too much on employers when they were challenged because of the pandemic.”

Just two of the 25 measures the chamber labeled as “job killers” — those most opposed by large employers — made it to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk: the garment worker measure, which he signed, and a bill allowing farmworkers to vote by mail in a union election, which he vetoed.

One of the most far-reaching initiatives goes back four years, and is gradually boosting California’s hourly minimum wage to more than twice the federal $7.25 level. Beginning Jan. 1, the statewide floor rises to $15 for employers with 26 or more employees and to $14 for those with 25 or fewer.

Many cities have raised pay even faster, including Los Angeles, where a $15 minimum wage for all employers took effect in July.

Among the measures enacted over the last year, here are some of the most significant:

Paid sick leave: Californians are guaranteed just three days of paid sick leave for any illness — a level widely deemed inadequate during a pandemic. A bill boosting it to five days failed to gain traction, but a limited COVID-related measure was renewed in April, Senate Bill 95, which gave workers two weeks of paid leave if they were infected or needed to care for sick relatives or for children kept out of school.

Fiercely opposed by businesses, it expired Oct. 1, along with federal tax credits that softened the burden.

Under a separate California Division of Occupational Safety and Health emergency rule, renewed Dec. 16, some workers can be paid for 10 days if they get sick or exposed to the virus and must therefore be excluded from the workplace. But leave to care for sick relatives or out-of-school children isn’t covered, and they don’t get paid if the employer can show they were infected outside their job.

With Omicron raging, paid sick leave will be among the first contentious legislative battles next year. As hundreds of thousands of workers remain unvaccinated, sick leave may become ensnared in the politics of vaccination mandates.

“If an individual doesn’t choose to get vaccinated or boosted, should they be having two weeks of time off?” Barrera asked. “We need to take that into consideration.”

Workplace safety: An explosion of COVID-19 infections across large companies such as supermarket chains, meatpackers, fast-food outlets and warehouses highlighted the weak penalties of California’s worker safety laws. And workplace safety agency Cal/OSHA, with just one inspector per 103,000 workers, has said it is too understaffed to visit 80% of sites where workers complain of safety violations.

Senate Bill 606, mirroring a similar federal law, allows California inspectors to issue “enterprise-wide” citations to companies with a pattern of violations, despite not having visited every work site in person.

Under earlier rules, an employer with multiple workplace outbreaks was typically cited for only a single violation. Traditionally, Cal/OSHA has preferred to negotiate with employers rather than issue fines. But low penalties failed to deter companies from flouting the rules, said Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), the bill’s author.

The new law requires the agency to label some employers as “egregious” when, for instance, workers are killed or are hospitalized as a result of “willful” safety violations. The agency must stack citations for each affected worker with fines of up to $134,334 each.

“You had large employers just ignoring the public health guidance on social distancing, masking and other measures,” said Eduardo Martinez, legislative director of the California Labor Federation. “As a result, a lot of workers got sick and many of them died.”

But SB 606 applies to all workplace safety situations — not just those involving the coronavirus.

“We come through a pandemic, where the majority of our business community is hanging on for dear life,” said Assemblyman Heath Flora (R-Ripon), who opposed the bill. “COVID was used to push an agenda that labor groups have been unable to get done before.”

Corporate discrimination: When employers settle workers’ claims of discrimination or harassment, they traditionally have sought to protect their reputations by forcing victims to sign confidentiality agreements before collecting severance or settlement payments.

In 2018, as the #MeToo movement gathered strength, the Golden State outlawed nondisclosure agreements to settle most cases of sexual discrimination, harassment or assault. Backers cited abuses by powerful executives, including producer Harvey Weinstein and Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, cases in which secret agreements may have enabled harassment to continue.

Now Senate Bill 331, labeled the Silenced No More Act, expands protections, outlawing confidentiality agreements for settlements involving any form of discrimination or harassment, including those based on race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, medical conditions and disability.

The new law was spurred in part by Ifeoma Ozoma, a Black executive at Pinterest, who complained about race and sex discrimination at the company and was forced to sign an agreement to remain silent as a condition of settling her claims.

“SB 331 will empower survivors to speak out — if they so wish,” said the author, Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino). “They can hold perpetrators accountable and hopefully prevent abusers from continuing to torment other workers.”

A coalition of 13 trade associations led by the Chamber of Commerce initially argued the bill would hurt workers by discouraging employers from offering severance payments. But opponents stood down after several amendments softened the bill’s effects, including a provision ensuring employers’ ability to protect trade secrets.

Garment workers: Southern California is home to more than 45,000 garment workers, the most in any U.S. state. They have traditionally been paid by the piece — 8 cents to stitch a sleeve, for instance, or 14 cents to attach a label. Depending on how fast they work, the pay often fails to equal the minimum wage.

Giant retailers such as Ross Dress for Less, T.J. Maxx and Forever 21 have set wholesale prices for their manufacturers so low that subcontractors can’t make a profit if they pay legal wages, according to federal investigators. And garment workers, many of whom are undocumented, are often reluctant to report unsafe conditions, according to Los Angeles’ nonprofit Garment Worker Center.

Senate Bill 62, spearheaded by Durazo, holds retailers jointly liable along with their suppliers for wage theft and other labor violations in their supply chains, even when garments are made for multiple brands. And it requires manufacturers to pay by the hour, outlawing the piece-rate system.

In signing the bill, Newsom said it protects “marginalized low-wage workers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants…. We are committed to having their backs as we work to build a stronger, more inclusive economy.”

But retailers warn that the measure could move more jobs to Latin America and Asia, where wages are far lower. Companies are “now going to be held liable for any wage and hour violations even though they may not have had control over them,” the Chamber of Commerce’s Barrera said.

A broader issue is the growing trend of imposing joint liability across ever more industries. Earlier California bills made construction companies and businesses using janitorial, gardening and security services jointly responsible for subcontractor violations. And a proposed bill to make fast-food companies jointly liable for franchisees’ infractions is expected to spur a legislative battle in 2022.

Warehouse workers: The pandemic turbocharged California’s warehouse workforce, which has doubled to more than 200,000 employees in five years, as consumers switched to ordering products online.

With Asian imports flowing through Southern California ports, the Inland Empire is now the nation’s largest warehouse center and Amazon its largest private employer.

Amid reports of skyrocketing injury rates, especially driven by Amazon’s “time off task” high-tech surveillance and speed quotas, Newsom signed the nation’s first law regulating workplace productivity controlled through artificial intelligence, a fast-spreading trend.

Assembly Bill 701, written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), outlaws warehouses’ use of algorithms that disrupt rest periods, bathroom breaks or compliance with health and safety laws. Companies must disclose production quotas and work speed metrics in writing to employees and government agencies, along with penalties for failing to meet them.

The law protects workers from retaliation for reporting unsafe quotas and allows them to seek redress in court.

“Hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in signing the bill.

Business groups opposed the measure. “There are already laws on the books dealing with rest breaks, bathroom and meal breaks,” Flora said. “This law opens a whole new avenue for frivolous lawsuits.”

Recall rights: During the pandemic, as tourism dried up, business travel was curtailed and office employees worked remotely, hundreds of thousands of workers were laid off from hotels, janitorial companies, airport concessions, sports arenas and concert halls.

Unite Here and the Service Employees International Union, which represent many workers in those industries, warned that companies would use the pandemic as an excuse to replace veteran employees with cheaper workers. They pushed for “a right of recall.”

Senate Bill 95, which took effect in April, requires companies in those sectors, once they begin hiring after pandemic-related layoffs, to offer jobs to their former workers based on seniority before replacing them.

Similar measures are in force in the city and county of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Glendale and Long Beach.

Food delivery: Assembly Bill 286 forbids food delivery companies such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Instacart and UberEats from retaining tips that were meant to go to their workers.

The measure comes in the wake of lawsuits against tech platforms accused of stealing tips. In a court settlement last year, DoorDash paid $2.5 million for using customer tips to fund its base operations in the District of Columbia. Point Pickup — which delivers for Walmart, Kroger and other firms — has also been accused of dipping into customers’ tips to cover guaranteed pay for its gig workers.

In February, Amazon paid $61.7 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it withheld tips from 140,000 Flex drivers nationwide.

Under AB 286, delivery companies have to disclose their fees to customers. They will be prohibited from marking up the prices of food and beverages they deliver — a practice that restaurants say has cut into their slim profits, even as the pandemic has crippled their businesses.

Disabled workers: By law, disabled workers may be paid less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Advocates say the practice encourages hiring of workers with mental or physical disabilities, but opponents call it unfair exploitation.

Under a new law, Senate Bill 639, no new sub-minimum-wage licenses will be issued for employers beginning in January. Existing licenses may not be renewed after 2024.

Sheltered workshops such as those operated by Goodwill Industries employ more than 5,000 Californians with disabilities. Some workers are paid as little as $2 an hour, said Durazo, the bill’s author.

In recent years, Alaska, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon and Texas have made it illegal to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage.

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-December 2021

December 20, 2021The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce appreciates the support of our members. Investment dollars are dedicated to vital programs such as economic development, business marketing, leadership programs and more. We applaud each of you for helping make Gilroy a...

Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Business Focus-November 2021

November 29, 2021Are you looking to make a difference to those in need this holiday season?  Look no further! For their winter community service project, the Rotary Club of Gilroy is assisting Gilroy Unified School District's efforts to provide winter clothing for...

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-October 2021

October 25, 2021The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce hosted a trip to our Nation’s Capital during the week of October 11-16. With 15 Chamber members and guests, the group toured various sites including, the Lincoln Memorial, Viet Nam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, World...

Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Business Focus-September 2021

September 27, 2021The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Pumpkin People Restaurant Passport Contest promotes various local restaurants (including coffee shops and bakeries). Throughout the month of October, participating restaurants will have pumpkin-flavored menu...

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus- August 2021

August 30, 2021The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has partnered with CalChamber and other Chambers of Commerce throughout the state to oppose any proposal for a blanket extension of SB 95 beyond the September 30, 2021 sunset date. The situation has changed significantly...

Recology Recycling

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Ryan and Larissa Dickerson, Owners of Bitter Taphouse

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