A Small Business Struggle

Tom Manzo

President, Timely Prefinished Steel Door Frames and President and Chairman of the Board at California Business and Industrial Alliance


Sometimes an example serves best when trying to explain the negative effects of overzealous regulation enforcement on California job creators. Consider the story of Joann Roth-Oseary and her pursuit of the American Dream to build a business.

Thirty-seven years ago Joann Roth-Oseary made a decision to start up her own business and create a catering company. Her vision to build a business was not an easy path for anyone, yet alone a woman in a mostly male dominated industry. Joann has become one of the top catering and event planning companies in Los Angeles and additionally has been in the top 100 woman owned businesses 10 years straight. Her company, Someone’s in the Kitchen,employs 35 full time employees and over 150 part-time employees and has been honored with such awards as Best Catering Company, the Richard Carbotti Award for Samaritan services and the Steve Kemble Leadership Award.

Joann’s accomplishments are commendable and she is someone we all should admire and respect. But, running a business in California has become more difficult than ever and for some reason it seems our legislators do not understand that. You can hear the frustration of running a business in Joann’s voice.

“I have had crazy workers comp rates and crazy claims.  Between the lawyers and the insurance companies, we should all just go hang ourselves in the corner.  The insurance companies don’t want to fight any of these claims and they just find it simpler to settle and raise our rates three times even when the claim is bogus.

“I have settled a labor claim based upon my attorney telling me,  ‘Joann, you can be right and it will cost you 100 grand, or you can be wrong and walk away for 35 grand.’  So, there you go with a system that is never pulling for the business owner.  The litigiousness of the system is very bad for business.”

Joann asks a question all small business can relate to:

‘’Where is our support? We are the job creators and it seems like we are taken granted for by the politicians.”

Joann hopes to find support for her company at CABIA, The California Business & Industrial Alliance, which focuses on changes to labor law and workers’ comp reform.

California legislators need to start listening to business owners and working for them. This state needs to stop passing so many new labor laws and start reducing the ones they have. Take the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) law, created in 2004 to allow private attorneys to enforce labor law violations. How does that make sense? Possibly we should let the politicians who endorse that idea to allow the same lawyers to sue the legislators over outdated or poorly written laws.

Legislators should find a way to have more business owners like Joann Roth-Oseary, not make life harder for them to operate.

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