Business and Labor

AMAZON SHUTS DOWN ACCOUNTS OVER PRICE-GOUGING, BUT HOW DO YOU FILE A COMPLAINT?

By Miriam Raftery
 
March 30, 2020 (San Diego) – Earlier this month, Amazon.com announced that it had pulled over a million products off its online site for price gouging during the pandemic and/or false advertising regarding effectiveness of products against the COVID-19 virus. Now the company has suspended over 4,000 vendors for price gouging, CNN reports.

COX TAKES STEPS TO EXPAND INTERNET ACCESS TO HELP THOSE WORKING OR SCHOOLING KIDS AT HOME, ALSO AIDS CUSTOMERS WITH FINANCIAL STRESS DUE TO COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

March 30, 2020 (San Diego) – Cox Communications recently announced steps to keep people and communities connected  during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many are working at home, educating children at home, or facing financial stress.  Those steps include increasing customer bandwidth free, suspending data usage overage fees, not cutting off phone or internet services for people who can’t pay bills due to the pandemic, and waiving late fees. Cox is also offering low-cost fees for new customers including families with children, opening outdoor WiFi hotspots, and more.

Cox assures that its network has capacity to handle a surge in usage trends from business to residential areas, allow quick emergency repairs, and protect employees and customers through social distance.

Below is Cox’s statement on keeping communities connected and helping those who most need connectivity:

TRUMP SIGNS STIMULUS BILL; U.S. NOW HAS MOST COVID-19 CASES IN WORLD

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- President Trump has signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, the largest in American history, stating, “I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first.”  The package includes direct payments, loans and grants.

The action comes after the U.S. surpassed China and Italy with the most COVID-19 coronavirus cases of any nation on earth. Worldwide over half a billion people have been infected with the virus. In the US there are over 95,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,450 people have died.

The Senate coronavirus bill will include help for:

LOCAL DISTILLERY MISADVENTURE & CO. SWITCHES PRODUCTION TO MAKE HAND SANITIZERS

East County News Service

March 27, 2020 (Vista) -- Due to world-wide sanitizer shortages, the sustainable Misadventure & Co. distillery has switched all production to make hand sanitizer in accordance with Food and Drug Administration and WHO guidelines. The small company has made large strides to make this product available for public sale as quickly as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic ad will ship nationwide.

'WE LIVE PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK': UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS STRUGGLE AS ECONOMY GRINDS TO A HALT

By Jacqueline Garcia and Jackie Botts

Jacqueline García is a reporter with La Opinión. CalMatters reporter Jackie Botts contributed to this article. This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.

Photo:  undocumented immigrants often work in construction. Photo by La Opinión

March 24, 2020 (San Diego) - More than 2 million undocumented workers, who do not quality for many state and federal benefits, are among the hardest hit Californians as the economy is battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

SUPERVISORS GASPAR AND DESMOND SEEK RELIEF FOR RESTAURANT INDUSTRY

East County News Service

Photo: Jeff Rossman, president, California Restaurant Association, estimates 60% of local restaurants have shut down.

March 23, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and Supervisor Jim Desmond announced Monday they will ask County staff to defer all environmental health fees for restaurants for the next six months at their Board meeting Tuesday. This includes permit fees, late fees and plan check correction fees associated with plans submitted prior to March 1, 2020. Since the Governor implemented a ban on all indoor dining, the President of the California Restaurant Association Jeff Rossman, estimates that 60% of local restaurants have shut down.

STATE EXPANDS AND CLARIFIES “ESSENTIAL” JOBS AND BUSINESSES THAT CAN STAY OPEN

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2020 (Sacramento)—The State Public Health Officer has listed a detailed 14-page list of “essential critical infrastructure workers” allowed to continue working under the Governor’s executive order, which mandates that most Californians stay home due to the COVID-19 emergency.  

View the full list:  https://covid19.ca.gov/img/EssentialCriticalInfrastructureWorkers.pdf

The list provides much more detail than the original executive order.  For example, appliance repair stores, mortuaries, mental health and substance abuse workers, cannabis clinics, veterinary and animal care facility workers, postal and shipping companies, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, auto repair shops, home improvement and appliance stores, attorneys and accountants helping to meet statutory requirements, farm workers, food suppliers and farmer’s markets, laundry services, IT professionals/computer repairs, construction workers, critical tribal positions, suppliers of critical industries and manufacturers of critically needed products such as hand sanitizers are among the many occupations added on the expanded list of businesses that can remain in operation.

LA MESA CHAMBER CELEBRATES THEIR HEROES AT SYCUAN CASINO

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

March 21, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) Before the state of California shut down all but essential businesses in an effort to contain coronavirus, the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a dinner celebrating their local heroes on March 12 at Sycuan Casino – Resort. The event was their 12th Annual Salute to Local Heroes.

At that time, gatherings were limited to 250 and the attendance was reportedly 167.

 “We’re celebrating the strength of our community,” said the Chamber’s President and CEO Mary England. “I have seven heroes.”

 

 

Those seven heroes selected to receive awards were:

COUNTY ASSESSOR/RECORDER/CLERK CLOSING ALL OFFICES TO PUBLIC; SERVICES STILL AVAILABLE ONLINE, BY PHONE OR BY MAIL

Photo credit: Michael Uyeda
 
Photo: (March 12, 2020) Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the new Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk's office 
 
Source: San Diego Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk's office
 
March 20, 2020 (San Diego) -- In accordance with the County Health Officer order regarding the COVID-19,  Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s Offices are closed to the public and suspending all over-the-counter services.
 
Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk Earnie Dronenburg said, “San Diego County residents are encouraged to visit our website www.SDARCC.com for online services and forms that can be completed by mail.” Dronenburg continued, “Our staff is continuing to provide great customer service by processing all electronic and mail submissions during this crisis to limit interruption to the public.”
 
The following services will continue to be available by phone, mail, online, and via E-mail:
  • Document Recording Services (only by mail and through E-Recording)
  • Vital Records Requests: Birth, Death, and Marriage Records (by mail or online)
  • Fictitious Business Name Statements (by mail)
  • Property Assessment Services
  • Copies of Official Records (by mail or online)
  • Notary Public Registrations (by mail)
  • Authentications (by mail)

TAX FILING DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JULY 15

By Miriam Raftery

March 20, 2020 (Washington D.C.) –  All taxpayers will have until July 15, instead of April 15, to file federal taxes due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced today. The extension applies both to individuals and businesses.Individuals and small businesses candelay paying any federal income tax payments up to $1 million and $10 million, respectively, until July 15, 2020

Earlier, the White House had said taxpayers could defer payment, but still needed to file by April 15.  The new order makes clear that filing, too, can be delayed up to 90 days. However taxpayers who are expecting refunds are encouraged to file as early as possible.

REPAIRSMITH DONATES $100K IN FREE 'NO-CONTACT CAR REPAIR' SERVICES TO SUPPORT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HARDSHIP DURING PANDEMIC

At-Home Service Company Launches Free Car Repair Program for Car Owners in Need; Ramps Up Technician Hiring and Fleet Service for Businesses

Source: PR Newswire/Repair Smith

March 20, 2020 (San Diego)--Today, RepairSmith announces it will donate $100,000 in free, 'No-Contact Car Repair' to the communities it serves. The company is introducing a series of initiatives to support members within the community who are facing hardship because of the coronavirus.  

Starting today, in California and Las Vegas, free car repairs are available to car owners who are severely impacted by COVID-19, either via loss of employment or acting as a frontline worker to their community.

This includes government workers, service workers, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, employees of grocery stores and pharmacies, volunteers and others who require the use of a functioning car, in locations where RepairSmith currently operates, including San Diego County.

COUNTY'S FAMILY RESOURCE CENTERS, HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SERVICES OFFICE SUSPENDING IN-PERSON SERVICES

Photo credit: Twitter @211SD
 
By Katie Cadiao, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
March 19, 2020 (San Diego) –While the (County's Family Resource Center and Housing and Community Development Services) physical offices are closing, the County is committed to continue providing its services during the ongoing health emergency. Most services provided at these facilities are available online, and staff will continue to answer questions via phone or email. 
 
Residents looking to apply for essential services, including food and housing assistance, medical coverage and other vital support programs, can apply for benefits online. They can also call 2-1-1 San Diego and a live representative can help with the application process by phone.
 
San Diegans who are already signed up for benefits, including CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal or General Relief benefits, can manage their case online. Existing customers can send required documents electronically via LaterDocs.
 

SMALL BUSINESS LOANS CAN HELP BUSINESSES HURT BY CORONAVIRUS

East County News Service
 
Photos and source: U.S. Small Business Administration
 
March 18, 2020 (San Diego)—Due to local, state and national disaster declarations, the Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans in our region for small businesses that have suffered economic consequences due to the coronavirus.  
 
 
For more information, click Read more.

GOVERNOR ORDERS EXTRA WEEK OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR WORKERS LAID OFF DUE TO COVID-19

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

March 18, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) - Coronavirus has disrupted the job market across California, including all of San Diego County. Governor Gavin Newsom has waived the one-week waiting period to file for unemployment and ordered an extra week of benefits for people out of work due to the COVID-19 emergency.

STOCK MARKET TAKES RECORD FALL

East County News Service
 
March 17, 2020 (New York) -- Despite the federal government dropping interest rates to zero in an effort to stave off economic disaster amid worsening coronavirus news, after President Trump’s speech on Monday the stock market plummeted even lower.
 
The Dow Jones fell by nearly 3,000 points Monday, the worst drop in history.  
 
The Standard and Poors Index fell 12%, its worst day since “Black Monday” on October 19th, 1987.   
 
And the NASDAQ composite ended the day down 12.3%.

COUNTY SHUTS DOWN BARS, LIMITS RESTAURANTS TO TAKE-OUT FOOD, BANS EVENTS OF 50+, AND MORE RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Gy Kirk, new co-owner of Sheldon's Station in La Mesa, says his restaurant is offering curbside take-out immediately and willl soon offer a home delivery service.

Read official health order here.

March 16, 2020 (San Diego) – Alarmed by news of 55 COVID-19 cases countywide—a nearly seven-fold increase in the past four days – San Diego County officials today announced tough new restrictions that will impact daily lives of virtually all residents and businesses. A new fund aims to help those adversely impacted.

Effective midnight Tuesday through March 31, the following rules are imposed countywide:

  • All gatherings of 50 or more are prohibited, including public and private events.
  • All non-essential gatherings, regardless of size, are discouraged.
  • All bars and other businesses serving alcohol without food must shut down.
  • Restaurants may offer only delivery, pick-up or drive-through service. On-site pickups must include social distancing of at least six feet.
  • Schools of all levels, public and private, must cancel any on-campus classes.
  • Businesses must not require doctor’s notes for sick time or other leave.
  • Businesses must allow telecommuting if possible and adopt social distancing for on-site workers, along with increased cleaning.
  • Hospitals and health care facilities should preserve resources including cancelling elective and non-emergency procedures when feasible.
  • Only essential personnel may enter hospitals and long-term care facilities—and any essential personnel with symptoms of COVID-19 are prohibited from entering.
  • Hospitals, commercial testing labs and all healthcare providers must report COVID-19 test results to the county’s public health officer immediately after receiving results.
  • Travelers arriving in San Diego County should self-quarantine at home for 14 day if they traveled from or through nations on the Centers for Disease Control Level 3 list. The list currently includes China, Iran, South Korea, and most European nations.
  • Self-quarantine at home is strongly recommended for people over age 65, as well as those with chronic underlying conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Everyone with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate at home before seeking medical treatment.

CORONAVIRUS INDUCED PANIC BUYING HITS EAST COUNTY: PUBLIC URGED NOT TO HOARD SUPPLIES -- AND CONSIDER THESE OPTIONS TO AVOID CROWDED STORES

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

Photo, left by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  Meat aisle at Vons in Santee was picked nearly clean by shoppers yesterday.

March 15, 2020 (East County)—After public health officials recommended stocking up on 14 days of supplies in the event of home quarantine during the local, state and federal COVID-19 emergency declarations, shoppers overwhelmed many local stores, causing long lines and local shortages.

Officials are now urging the pubic not to hoard products, to assure that everyone will have access to items that they need. Some stores are also beginning to limit sales to prevent hoarding or reselling  items at a higher price. (It is illegal to price gouge during a declared emergency and violators can be fined or imprisoned).

Shoppers yesterday were out in force piling their shopping carts not only with toilet paper but with meats, canned beans, breads, potatoes (if they can find them), and other products.  At Trader Joe’s in La Mesa, the line when the store opened extended from one end of the shopping center to the other. Inside, the checkout line stretched to the back of the store.

NEW ASSESSOR/RECORDER/COUNTY CLERK OFFICE AND FIRST-EVER ARCHIVE CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING

Photo credit: Michael Uyeda
 
By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
March 13, 2020 (Santee) -- It’s official. The new Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk East County Branch Office and Archive in Santee formally celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.
 
The new 25,000-square-foot building features a first for the County – County Archives. Historic documents dating back 170 years now have a dedicated space of their own. Some 4,400 cubic feet of archival records and microfilm moved from offsite storage to a repository with its own generator, heating and air conditioning system, state of the art fire suppression system and secure access.

TRUMP BANS TRAVEL FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS FROM EUROPE DUE TO COVID-19, PROPOSES ECONOMIC RELIEF FOR AMERICANS IMPACTED

Update March 13: The President today declared a national emergency, freeing up some $50 bilion in federal aid for states.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Airport medical screening; CC by SA

March 11, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – President Donald Trump today announced a travel ban on most foreign nationals from Europe and also proposed economic aid to Americans impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

EAST COUNTY CHAMBER SEEKS CANDIDATE STATEMENTS FOR ENDORSEMENTS

East County News Service

March 10, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce will begin endorsing candidates for elective office in the November 2020 general election, those found to be aligned with the Chamber’s goals of promoting business in East County.

The Chamber will consider endorsements for candidates to elected offices that serve the East County region. 

Candidates seeking endorsement should submit a statement of no longer than 500 words that should address the question, “Why should the Chamber endorse you?”

Candidate statements should be submitted to Diana Senica by email at events@eastcountychamber.org, no later than May 1, 2020.

GONZALEZ-FLETCHER ADDS $20 MILLION TO BUDGET TO PARTIALLY OFFSET AB 5 IMPACTS ON NONPROFIT ARTS GROUPS, BUT FALLS FAR SHORT OF HELP NEEDED

By Miriam Raftery
 
March 7, 2020 (Sacramento)-- Musicians, artists and nonprofit arts groups are among the hardest hit by AB 5, the new law authored by Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego) requiring that many freelancers be reclassified as employees – a prohibitively costly mandate for many small nonprofits. Now Gonzalez-Fletcher is offering some help, though it amounts to a Bandaid approach to the wounds inflicted on the arts and music industries by the new law.
 
Last month, Gonzalez-Fletcher  along with Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) asked for $20 million to be added to the state budget for the California Arts Council to help small community nonprofit arts groups comply with AB 5, but only in the first year. But there is no guarantee of funding for applicants, nor any help to meet ongoing enormous costs of complying in future years--such as paying unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation and other annual costs for all employees, as well as added payroll deduction and accounting costs. 
 
Moreover, the measure only helps nonprofits able to win grants and show good-faith effort to comply with AB 5. Even then, the measure offers no help to meet ongoing high costs, nor does it offer any assistance to for-profit companies nor to individual artists or musicians losing work due to the new law.

TEN-FOLD DECREASE IN JOB GAINS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Barely 29,000 new jobs for people with disabilities in 2018, compared to over 343,000 new jobs for the disabled two years ago.  California had the most job losses for disabled workers.
 
Source: RespectAbility
 
March 6, 2020 (Washington D..C) -- New statistics show that job gains among Americans with disabilities have dramatically fallen compared to previous years of sustain growth. 
 
California saw the biggest job losses among people with disabilities, with more than 21,000 workers with disabilities leaving the labor force. 

RAMONA’S CHRIS ANDERSON WINS REALTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD (AGAIN) FROM SAN DIEGO’S LARGEST REALTORS ASSOCIATION

East County News Service

March 5, 2020 (Ramona) – Ramona resident Chris Anderson, a realtor with Coldwell Banker West (CBW), was recently honored by the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR) with the 2019 Realtor of the Year Award.

SENATOR BRIAN JONES INTRODUCES BILL TO REDUCE LICENSING BURDENS ON CALIFORNIANS

East County News Service
 
February 26, 2020 (Sacramento) - State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) announced today he introduced Senate Bill 878 (fact sheet).  SB 878 will require all boards and bureaus within the Department of Consumer Affairs to prominently display on their websites the current average timeframe for processing initial and renewal license applications.
 
The Department of Consumers Affairs (DCA) administers more than 3.9 million licenses in more than 280 license types including certificates, registrations and permits, from architects to accountants, dentists to veterinarians, according to the DCA website.

BRIAN JONES COAUTHORS BILLS TO REPEAL, REFORM AB 5 “GIG WORKER” LAW THAT IS HARMING INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS’ LIVELIHOODS; CONGRESS TO VOTE ON BILL SIMILAR TO AB 5 THIS WEEK

 

A national version of AB 5 is slated, which radically revises employment laws, is slated to be voted on in the House of Representatives this week with backing of California's two Senators

By Miriam Raftery

Image courtesy of #FightForFreelancers, which is battling a measure similar to California's AB 5 law. The seriously flaws legislation in our state is being emulated across the nation even as lawsuits, reform and repeal measures are pending in California.

February 4, 2020 (San Diego) – State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) is  coauthoring multiple bills to repeal and/or reform Assembly Bill 5, which took effect January 1, decimating independent contractors in a wide range of fields as well as the businesses and nonprofits that have long relied on freelancres.

AB 5 was introduced by Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego), a former labor leader who touted it as a way of cracking down on companies such as Uber and Lyft for exploiting workers and forces even small businesses and nonprofits to make most workers employees rather than independent contractors.

But the costs of doing so are prohibitively high for many businesses and organizations, putting their futures at risk. The law has also had devastating effects on freelancers across at least 150 fields including musicians, writers, artists, actors, dancers, nurses, consultants, translators, photographers, teachers and other independent contractors who value their freedom and flexible schedules and don’t want to be employees.

Some are now unable to find work due to AB 5, as out of state companies cancel gigs with California freelancers, unwilling to risk criminal penalties and huge fines for misclassifying workers under the convoluted, complex and confusing terms of the law. Other freelancers have shelled out high costs to start their own companies in order to qualify for business-to-business exemptions in the bill, but receive no benefits for those expenditures.

LA MESA CHAMBER SALUTES LOCAL HEROES MARCH 12 AT SYCUAN RESORT

By Miriam Raftery

January 30, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce invites you to its 12th annual Salute to local Heroes. This year’s theme is "Hooray for Hollywood: and the event will be held on March 12 at Sycuan Casino Resort from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

First responders from La Mesa Police, fire and paramedics will be honored as well as members of the retired senior volunteer patrol. The celebration also includes installation of the Chamber’s new board of directors.

Suggested attire is Hollywood glam, cocktail or business.

LA MESA CHAMBER TO HOST BEER GARDEN AT GROSSMONT CENTER’S FIRST FRIDAY MARKETS

Celebrate vegan lifestyle with all-vegan eats, drinks, music and more

By Miriam Raftery

January 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce has inked a deal with Grossmont Center to host a beer garden at all of the center’s First Friday markets starting February 7th through the end of this year. The beer garden will feature featuring Mike Hess Brewing Company and Local Roots kombucha.

The markets are held on the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.in the shopping mall’s parking lot between Chuze Fitness and Fuddruckers. The  market celebrates the vegan lifestyle with all-vegan foods, sweets, drinks, goods for sale and live music. Grossmont Center is located at 5500 Grossmont Center Blvd., La Mesa. 

The beer garden will have a seating area beneath lighted tents for dining and drinking under the stars. 

LAWSUITS MOUNT AGAINST NEW CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW, AB 5

Judge issues injunction on behalf of independent truckers; freelance journalists and other gig worker groups also file legal challenges
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
January 6, 2020 (San Diego) – A new law making it harder for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees took effect January 1st. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, the bill’s author, aims to provide more workers with benefits such as healthcare, unemployment insurance and the option to unionize. But a flurry of lawsuits are challenging the measure as unfair and constitutional.  

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