March 11, 2019
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Workforce Summit brings together new ideas and innovative employers

Washington employers are breaking old rules, experimenting with new ideas and creating fresh solutions in order to attract – and keep – a strong workforce in today’s economy, leading experts said Wednesday at AWB’s third-annual Workforce Summit.

More than 80 employers, educators and policy experts gathered at the Hilton Bellevue to identify challenges and create solutions around the workforce. Notably, this year’s event included many first-time attendees who brought new ideas, which were shared in tabletop exercises after a series of panel discussions.

Three main themes emerged:

First, it’s a tough labor market for employers. If companies want to succeed, throw the old rules out the window.

“This war for talent – it’s here. We’re fighting it,” Dr. Wade Larson of Wagstaff’s human resources team said.

Second, employees often face a huge amount of stress that distracts them from doing their jobs. Caring for kids and elderly parents, student loan debt, marriage and divorce – it all impacts productivity.

“Eighty percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck,” Viridian’s CEO Adriel Tam said during one panel discussion.

And third, there are many solutions that employers can implement to solve problems and encourage more loyalty, less turnover and a stronger company overall. Some cost money, and some don’t. But the bottom line is there are now more job openings in this country than there are people looking for them. Job openings reached a record high of 7.3 million in December, the federal government reports. This means employers must adapt in order to keep a steady workforce.

Read more at Olympia Business Watch or watch the AWB News coverage here.

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Workforce Summit
Inspiring Action

Hair stylists embody democracy in action

By AWB President Kris Johnson

It was an impressive display of grassroots organizing. Arranged solely through a quick online effort, the state Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hearing was jam-packed with hair stylists, salon owners and cosmetologists on Jan. 28.

Thousands of people signed in to testify and a line of professionals stretched from the Senate hearing room outside to the domed building on the Capitol campus nearly a football field away.

Those small-business owners and independent contractors converged on Olympia on short notice from every part of the state to testify against bills that would severely restrict who can and cannot be classified as an "independent contractor" in Washington state.

It was a powerful sight and an inspiring illustration of democracy in action.

That bill, and others like it introduced this session, would severely hamper those entrepreneurs' ability to continue to operate as their own boss...

Read the full column in South Sound Business
Carbon Costs

Time to stall climate bills that would raise gas prices

By Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board

Recycling is all well and good, but not when it comes to the Legislature's latest attempt to combat climate change by proposing solutions that result in higher gas prices, thus putting the pocketbook hurt on all Washingtonians, especially those in the Yakima Valley.

Didn't voters just reject a plan, Initiative 1631, that would place a fee on carbon polluters (that's you, large, multi-national oil companies) while virtually assuring that residents would see a significant price rise at the pump and higher electricity bills?

... Washington's regressive tax system already disproportionately affects those with the least wiggle room in their household budgets. Lower-income residents seemingly are just as concerned with combating climate change as those of more means, but they will be unfairly called upon to bear the bulk of the burden.

Read the full editorial in The Yakima Herald-Republic
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