California business owner fights to keep employees on payroll

CEO keeping workers on payroll during shutdown
CEO keeping workers on payroll during shutdow... 01:39

Last Updated Apr 14, 2020 7:38 PM EDT

Claremont, California — A health club owner in California was determined to keep all his employees on the payroll through the coronavirus crisis, even after the club shut down indefinitely. He's managed to pull it off with a lot of help.

Every day, Claremont Club CEO Mike Alpert gets messages of gratitude from his 260 employees. His health and tennis club sits empty now, one victim of California's shelter-in-place rules. But Alpert refuses to just walk away. 
 
"I can tell you, I'd rather be out of work and lose my job than put anybody on the unemployment line," Alpert told CBS News.
 
The plan: ask the club's 10,000 members to continue paying their dues through April and May. The promise, Alpert said, is "... to pay them back once we opened up again."

Combined with the help from the federal stimulus package, Alpert believes he can provide his employees with a paycheck and health benefits through July.

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Claremont Club CEO Mike Alpert CBS News

Dare Kelley is a pilates instructor, a single mom and one of Alpert's employees. "I literally fell to my knees," Kelley said of Alpert's plan. "I'm about to cry. Do you want me to cry?"
 
So far, in an extraordinary act of goodwill, 90% of the club's members are still paying their dues. "We're willing to break even or even at a loss this year," Alpert said. "This year is not about money, this year's about people."