March 4, 2019
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Groundbreaking research from PNNL earns national recognition

New innovations from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have been recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium as recognition for the work it takes to move new inventions to the marketplace.

PNNL researchers and developers were recognized for their work developing new gunshot detection tools, creating ethanol-based jet fuel, optical sensors for gases, and new ways to track underground nuclear tests, the lab reports.

The gunshot detector is about the size of a golf ball and can tell first responders the caliber and location of the gunshot. The lab has also created a new ethanol-based jet fuel blend that “holds the potential to transform the commercial aviation industry” using ethanol from any sustainable source. The optical sensor technology helps detect and measure trace amounts of gases at the source, such as plants and factories. And Xenon International earned an Interagency Partnership Award for its work to bring together diverse government agencies and the private sector in a collaboration aimed at detecting underground nuclear explosions.

“In a world increasingly powered by technology, the transfer of innovations from research institutions to industry often serves as both the conduit and catalyst of national progress, security, and prosperity,” the lab reports.

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Workforce Summit This Week
Limiting Worker Choice

Flexible schedules are vital to hospitality industry

By Larry Freshler, a hotel industry professional for 30-plus years

I chose to make my career with hotels because I believe that schedule flexibility is an important benefit of the industry. Scheduling flexibility allows employees to decide when they want to work. Through this option, employees have the opportunity to make the best decisions for their health and the well-being of their families.

As an HR professional, we want to encourage positive working relationships and foster healthy conversations among employees and their employer. Creating a statewide mandate of how employees and employers must interact does not create a good environment or culture. In my experience, no matter where you are in the hotel, as an employee, you have input into your schedule and always have the chance to pick up more shifts if you want them, or vice versa.

A scheduling policy as complex as the one proposed in Olympia would be a logistical nightmare. If this policy were adopted, we would likely need to add staff just to manage the new scheduling demands. Currently we act as a team and schedule our employees taking into considering their schedules and requests. In all my time in HR, I've seen some interesting proposals, but this one limiting the scheduling abilities of employers might be the most burdensome yet...

Read the full guest column in The Spokesman-Review
Attack on Agriculture

Is there slavery in the domestic food supply chain?

By The Capital Press Editorial Board

If the Washington Senate Labor and Commerce Committee has its way, farmers and ranchers who supply large retailers doing business in the Evergreen State could find themselves certifying to those customers that they are not slavers.

Introduced by Seattle Democrat Rebecca Saldana, Senate Bill 5693 mandates that retailers with worldwide sales of more than $200 million require farmers and ranchers to report any incidents of slavery, peonage and human trafficking. Furthermore, the law would require any violation of labor laws to be reported...

No one denies that human trafficking, particularly in the sex trade, is a real problem. While there's probably little doubt that forced labor is a problem in the third world, there is no evidence that slavery or peonage is practiced on U.S. farms in general or Washington farms in particular.

Washington farm groups were rightly enraged by the suggestion.

Washington Potato and Onion Association lobbyist Jim Jesernig, said potato and onion growers were angry, and so was he.

"The supply chain that feeds you and your constituents are our farmers, ranchers and food processors. This accuses them of slavery and human trafficking."

Read the full editorial in The Capital Press
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