In a program that will kill jobs, two Bay Area regional governmental agencies are telling certain employers that they will soon have to provide workers with “commuter benefits.”
The program was reported in the news media on July 15. Ordering implementation of the commuter program are the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District). MTC regulates Bay Area transportation matters. The Air District is in charge of managing air quality.
The commuter program, which will take effect on September 30, requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide commuter benefits to all workers.
The regulation applies to the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. Parts of Solano and Sonoma Counties are also affected.
Commuter Benefits Mandate
Under the program, all employers — public, private, and nonprofit — will have to designate a Commuter Benefits Coordinator.
The program will also require employers to select one of several commuter-benefit options (such as bus or train) and notify covered employees of the option selected.
Employers will also have to maintain, for three years, records documenting compliance.
Commuter benefits may force workers to use BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). In 2013, BART went on strike twice, leaving many commuters stranded.
Recently, the was a strike of transportation workers in San Francisco. For several days buses and cable cars did not operate.
One has to ask why government has to become involved commuting. Perhaps the individual worker can decide for himself whether to commute by car, bus, or train.
The directors of MTC and the Air District are not elected directly by voters. For example, the chairperson of MTC, Amy Worth, was not elected to her MTC position. In 2010, she was elected to a seat on the Orinda City Council.
Similarly, Mary Piepho of the Air District was not elected to her Air District job. She was elected in 2008 to a seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.
Governmental mandates on business are nothing new. Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) of 2010, employers with 50 or more employees must provide health benefits to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. In response, some firms have cut a worker’s time from 40 hours a week to 29.
Many Americans assume that the Internal Revenue Service is the tax collector. But the real tax collector is the employer, who, on each payday, must withhold a certain amount of an employee’s wages to cover federal income tax, state income tax, Social Security, and Medicare. Usually, an employer hires a payroll service or a clerk to determine how much tax is to be deducted from each worker’s paycheck. The boss must remit to governmental agencies the amount that each employee owes in taxes.
The employer is also an immigration police officer. Before hiring someone, the employer must check to find out if the prospective employee is a legal resident of the United States. A firm hiring an illegal alien is subject to harsh penalties.
Government mandates — whether for commuter benefits, health benefits, payroll deductions, or the verification of an employee’s legal status — cost money. These costs can require a firm with 30 to 45 workers to hire two of three full-time employees who do nothing but comply with the government mandates. The cost of compliance for three such employees can be between $150,000 and $350,000 per year. The cost just for health benefits alone can be between $120,000 and $450,000 per year.
One has to wonder when and if governmental bodies will soon be telling employers what kind of home furniture must be purchased for a firm’s workers.
If the employer is spending too much money on government mandates, the employer may have to curtail hiring, lower wages, or fire employees. The employer can also close his business or move to another state or country.
In February, Occidental Petroleum announced that it is moving from Los Angeles to Housing. In April, the North American headquarters of Toyota said it plans to move from Torrance, California, to Plano, Texas.
The time has come to make the Bay Area — and the rest of California — competitive. Failure to do so will mean fewer jobs and lower wager for those who still have jobs.