Fast Facts

Monday, October 28

Dollars flood state election campaigns as Nov. 5 voting deadline approaches

Dollars flood state election campaigns as Nov. 5 voting deadline approaches

Eight days remain in an election season that features some of the costliest and most important issues in recent state history, including a legislative race that could affect the balance of power in the state Senate and ballot initiatives that would have a big effect on the business community. AWB’s endorsements are online. Full election resources, including an online voter guide, are available from the Secretary of State at

  • National attention focuses on 26th district Senate race as misleading ads fly
    The costliest state legislative race in state history is now featuring misleading attack ads that accuse Jan Angel of eliminating access to mammograms. The Seattle Times Truth Needle blasts the ads, which are paid for by outside groups in support of Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher. The Angel-Schlicher race has attracted national attention and could decide which party controls the state Senate. AWB has endorsed Angel, a longtime business owner. Help support her campaign with a donation at
  • GMO labeling initiative support drops 20 points since September
    Support is sinking for Initiative 522, which requires labeling for some genetically modified foods. A new Elway poll shows 46 percent support for I-522. A month ago, Elway found 66 percent support. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much momentum’’ shifting so quickly, Elway said. Washington State University says I-522 is misleading, and The Olympian writes in an editorial that “this poorly worded and deceptive initiative” is not actually about labeling. The initiative, the newspaper says, is actually an attempt to ban GMOs despite any scientific studies showing health risks.

  • Debate on $15 minimum wage measure notes impact on first-time workers
    As SeaTac voters prepare to vote on a minimum wage that would be the highest in the nation, commentators are warning that a $15 starting wage would cut out first-time workers. Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey recalls his first job, in which his employer essentially paid him to learn how to be an employee. A pair of businessmen at Crosscut say SeaTac Proposition 1 is “terrible public policy” – complex and applied unevenly but with impacts on all workers and workplaces.

State’s top manufacturers take the spotlight at AWB summit

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers was named Manufacturer of the Year Friday at AWB’s third-annual Manufacturing Summit, and four other employers received top manufacturing awards: Fluid Motion, Genie, ConAgraFoods Lamb Weston, and The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. The summit, sponsored by UPS and the AWB Institute, also featured an exciting lineup of speakers and panelists, including Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on Incorporated, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers and Wendy Sancewich, national manufacturing team director for McGladrey. Check out AWB’s blog, Olympia Business Watch, for detailed reports on the speakers, as well as video clips paying tribute to each award winner. See the entire social media conversation surrounding the event — tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram photos and videos — at tagboard.

Brunell named to governor’s 777X task force
AWB President Don Brunell has been named to the 777X Legislative Task Force. The group was created this month to push for a wide range of regulatory reforms, financial incentives and educational upgrades to convince Boeing to build its 777X widebody jet in Washington. Brunell joins a bipartisan group of 12 legislators from both the House and Senate, as well as representatives from labor and business. The competition is serious; one analyst recently favored South Carolina for 777X construction.

Washington Business Week gives first-ever volunteer award to Brunell

AWB President Don Brunell received the first-ever Steve Hyer Award for leadership and volunteer service from Washington Business Week during a fundraiser breakfast last week at CenturyLink Field. Brunell has supported Washington Business Week for three decades, from volunteering as an adult leader to regular trips across the globe to support a flourishing sister program in Poland. The “magic of Business Week,” he wrote this summer, comes from its mix of risk and responsibility, challenging students by teaching life skills in a diverse environment.

Head of Washington health care exchange to speak at AWB Health Care Forum

With the “Obamacare” health insurance exchanges all over the news, you may have questions about how Washington’s exchange is working. Attend AWB’s Health Care forum on Nov. 6 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel for a chance to pose them directly to Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The forum, “Health Care Changes: Employer Options, Incentives & Perspectives,” will also feature John Goodman, president & CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis. Goodman, who widely known as the father of health savings accounts, will also field questions about the ACA and offer insight in how to fix it. And Goodman will have copies available of his new book, “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.”

Sessions will include:
  • “Impact of the Affordable Care Act: Fact or Fiction,” Joel White, president, Council for Affordable Health Care CoverageEmployer
  • Incentives: Can my company really reduce health care costs? Panelists: Machelle Johnson, director of human resources, Pearson Packaging Systems; Laura Pierron, senior benefits consultant, Premera Blue Cross.
  • Consumer Driven Health Care Trends with Rebecca Norlander and Rachel Lanham, founders of Health123, and Dr. Sarah de la Torre, medical advisor with the Seattle-based wellness startup.
What’s your health care question? Send us your questions now for a chance to hear them posed during the forum. And register today!

Rep. Larry Crouse to step down from state House, setting up scramble for replacement

Rep. Larry Crouse, the longest-serving Republican in the state House of Representatives, announced last week that he will step down at the end of the year due to ongoing health issues. Crouse was first elected to represent the Spokane area in 1995. The announcement is likely to set off a rush of GOP hopefuls to fill the spot, The Spokesman-Review reported. Two candidates have already filed with the Public Disclosure Commission: Former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite and Robert B. McCaslin, son of the late Sen. Bob McCaslin, who died in 2011.

As federal healthcare exchange debate rages, some Washington residents losing low-cost insurance plans

Thousands of people in Washington are losing low-cost health insurance plans that don’t meet Affordable Care Act standards and are being shut down, KIRO radio reports. Many of the replacement plans cost more for the higher level of coverage. At the same time, widespread discontent over problems with the federal health care exchange are prompting calls by Republicans and some Democrats to delay the individual mandate – and its tax penalty – for a year. The White House opposes that plan, but has tweaked regulations to effectively delay the mandate six weeks, until March 31.

Do businesses need to accommodate religious needs of employees? Supreme Court to decide

The state Supreme Court will hear a case about whether employers must accommodate the religious practices of their workers under state discrimination laws, NPR reports. The high court heard arguments Tuesday from four employees of Gate Gourmet, which makes meals for airlines. For food safety reasons, the company does not allow meals to be brought from home. The employees, including a Hindu, Muslim and Orthodox Christian, say the meals provided by the company did not meet their religious needs, the Capitol Record reports.

Secretary of State gives corporate awards

AWB members were well represented in this year’s Corporations for Communities awards, given annually by the Washington secretary of state.

  • Weyerhaeuser received an award for creating local programs that allow its employees to contribute to affordable housing, education and youth development, environmental stewardship and human services. Weyerhaeuser has also collected more than 750,000 diapers for low-income families. It also works with World Vision to provide disaster supply kids and lumber donations to rebuild disaster areas.

Other AWB members recognized by Secretary of State Kim Wyman for their contribution to the community include:

  • Storman’s (Olympia) for its ongoing support of the Combined Fund Drive, donations to food banks and extensive work with Northwest Harvest, and
  • Cedar Grove Composing (Seattle) for volunteering, contributing, and educating students about the benefits of composting.

Employment law seminar coming this Wednesday

What do guns, therapy horses and tattoos have in common? They’re part of the discussion at the half-day Breakfast Briefing Wednesday in Seattle hosted by Littler Mendelson. AWB members will receive a 25 percent discount in this talk on practical workplace accommodations/accessibility and independent contractors. Contact Cheri Devlin for information, or learn more here.

‘Standing Shoulder to Shoulder’ seminar details the business case for hiring veterans

Patriotism aside, there is a strong business case for hiring veterans. Learn more at “Standing Should to Shoulder With Our Military Veterans” on Nov. 13 in Tacoma. Topics include “The Legal Ins and Outs of Hiring a Veteran,” “I Want to Hire a Veteran – How Do I Find the Right Match for my Business Needs?” and “Hiring Veterans Makes Good Business Sense – a Company’s Perspective.” The seminar at TrueBlue, Inc., 1015 A St, Tacoma, runs from 8 a.m. to noon. Contact Anne Haller for information or learn more here.

It’s nomination time for the Better Workplace Awards

AWB is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Better Workplace Awards. This 18th annual competition is open to AWB members of any size. We want to recognize companies for innovation, uniqueness, creativity and quantifiable results in programs that result in higher employee morale and well-being, increased productivity and reduced turnover. The awards, sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine, will be presented during our Legislative Day luncheon Feb. 5. Take a look at this year’s winners, then download the nomination form and help us pick the best workplaces of 2014!


I see no path, no road to prosperity in America’s future that does not include a manufacturing renaissance and accompanying upscaling of the American workforce.” ~ Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on Incorporated, at the 2013 AWB Manufacturing Summit Friday in SeaTac.

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