April 13, 2020
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Bringing Business Up to Speed
COVID-19 Federal Issues Other News AWB Events & Resources Best of the Blog Tweet of the Week They Said It
COVID-19

Governors of Washington, California and Oregon announce 'shared vision' on COVID-19 response and reopening economies

The three contiguous West Coast states will work together and share a vision to battle COVID-19 and re-open their state's economies. Gov. Jay Inslee joined the governors of Oregon and California to announce the Western States Pact, pledging to work together with "clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business."

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The coronavirus has been slowed, but remains far from beaten, health officials tell Washington

Leading health officials told Washington employers and others Monday that COVID-19 has been slowed but that we are still very much in a pandemic. The typical horizon for a vaccine in this case is at least 18 months, and economic recovery will be reliant on testing, and measures to protect employees.

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Unemployment benefits, small business grants and loans remain top funding sources for employers, families facing challenges

Banks, credit unions and state unemployment systems across the country are facing huge pressures to get federal funds out the door to help the nation recover from the massive economic shock caused by the coronavirus. Despite technical and other challenges, these funding sources appear to be the best opportunity for struggling families and businesses. If you haven't been able to, keep trying to get through.

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Employers continue to stand up to support their communities

Washington businesses continue to find ways to use their skills and energy to provide key help and products. From Fluke in Everett to Blue Origin in Kent and Bechtel in the Tri-Cities, manufacturers are building key medical equipment. Even the Mariners are helping by hosting an ongoing blood drive at T-Mobile Field.

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AWB hosts webinar to help manufacturers plug into state, national demand for medical supplies

Last week AWB invited key state and national leaders to discuss how manufacturers can help supply the need for medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). The Fluke Corporation talked about their quick work to create PPE. The Department of Commerce and the creator of a national manufacturing database also spoke.

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State offers slate of COVID-19 resources for employers

What does six feet look like? How can grocery store staff be kept safe? What are some professional-looking ways to help alert customers that pickup and delivery are available? The state is offering a variety of printable posters to help businesses communicate with customers and staff during COVID-19.

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Gov. Inslee signs proclamation with rights for workers during COVID-19

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a "High-Risk Employees - Workers' Rights" proclamation today. The order requires employers to utilize all options for alternative work assignments to protect high-risk employees, among other rules.

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American supply chains face huge risk if professional drivers don't get help, advocates say

Nearly 71% of freight in the U.S. moves by truck. These supply chains are at risk if the government fails to act quickly to protect the country's truckers, drivers and industry officials warn. Truckers move into COVID-19 hotspots every day with no protective equipment, testing or ways to seek treatment, the Kansas City Star reports.

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Federal Issues

Congress deadlocked on adding money to small business relief fund

The $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, part of last month's $2.2 trillion CARES Act, could run out of money by as early as this week. The chambers and parties still haven't agreed to a plan to add money to the fund. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, and a Missouri Republican are both offering plans that would have the federal government guarantee private companies' paychecks during the pandemic.

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Other News

Federal and state unemployment rates continue to soar

Weekly initial unemployment claims continued at near-record highs for the third week in a row, with 6.6 million people filing for unemployment. About 8.4% of the civilian U.S. labor force is now on the jobless rolls. In Washington, jobless claims are just below the all-time high set a week ago.

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State unemployment agency offers new resources to employers forced to close or reduce hours in challenging times

Washington employers are encouraged to help laid off workers receive unemployment benefits quickly through communication and preparation on the front end. State officials have created new resources for employers to review in advance. The faster people receive benefits, the faster they can pay rent, buy groceries and otherwise stimulate the economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Boeing preparing to restart 737 MAX maintenance and military aircraft production

Boeing will be bringing about 2,500 employees back to facilities in the Puget Sound region and Moses Lake as early as today for limited operations on defense programs and 737 MAX storage.

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Inslee appoints Pierce County Superior Court Judge to state Supreme Court

Today Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Pierce County Superior Court Judge Helen Whitener to a seat on the state Supreme Court. She is only the second-ever black justice to serve on the state's highest court.

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Need health insurance? Special enrollment open at Washington Health Benefit Exchange

State officials have created a special enrollment period for health insurance on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange through May 8. Most people and families enrolled receive some kind of financial help to pay for coverage.

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Schools update & flexibility for graduating seniors

Graduating high school seniors are facing an uncertain future. The State Board of Education last week adopted emergency rules to increase flexibility in graduation requirements. And the Washington Student Achievement Council has a new chatbot to help provide financial aid information to graduating seniors.

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AWB Annual report

AWB amped up its work in 2019, connecting employers with policymakers and helping find solutions to move the state forward. Read the newly published AWB 2019 annual report here.

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AWB Events & Resources

HR & Employment Law Webinar on May 20: Performance evaluations

Learn about the latest developments in laws about performance evaluations, disciplinary actions and terminations so that your organization can focus on compliance and avoid administrative claims during AWB's next HR & Employment Law webinar on April 1. There will be more relevant topics in the months ahead, including the latest on L&I, non-competition agreements, and more. Register online for this and other timely webinars!

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AWB hosts weekly webinar for employers covering the coronavirus

Every Monday from 10-11 a.m., the Employer Resources Webinar Series will give you real-time, expert insights on all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to connect you to the latest information, webinar speakers rotate depending on the breaking news of the week. Check our webinar landing page for who's on the agenda to connect you with the latest information, direct from top officials. Listen to today's webinar or watch a video.

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Watch your inbox for the next AWB survey on the coronavirus response

The next round for the AWB coronavirus impact survey landed in inboxes today. Check your inbox for this week's survey and please take a few moments to respond. Your response will help all employers in our state. The survey provides important guidance for AWB as it advocates for employers during this time of dynamic and evolving situation.

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Best of the Blog

Virtual office saves overhead costs, creates community connections

The Covington Chamber of Commerce went virtual three years ago and hasn't looked back. "Overall we really just didn't need the physical office space," Executive Director Jennifer Liggett writes. "We measured the visitors and reasons for dropping by and it wasn't enough to justify continuing to pay rent, utilities and other expenses." Read the full blog post here.



Tweet of the Week

Housing is Essential



They Said It

Amplified

"Individually, the employer's story is compelling. Collectively, it can change the world." ~ AWB President Kris Johnson and AWB Board Chair Fran Forgette in their introduction to the newly published 2019 AWB Annual Report.




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Bait and Switch


False advertising: They call it the 'Amazon tax,' but it's so much more

By Danny Westneat

Whatever one may think of the policies of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, she is as savvy as they come at making a sales pitch.

Take her "Amazon tax" proposal, formally introduced last week. It's by far the biggest tax increase in Seattle history, making it a huge political lift at any time, not to mention during an economic meltdown.

So she never misses a beat to stress that you won't pay the $500 million yearly tax. Amazon will.

"We're in a pandemic. Tax Amazon now," reads the bumper-sticker slogan on her council webpage.

It's a powerful message. The problem -- just as with the last head tax that eventually failed -- is that it's a bait and switch.

Her proposal doesn't just tax "Amazon," or the company's amorphous cousin, "big business." The way it's structured, it would tax almost any for-profit business in the city with 100 to 150 employees on up (it exempts nonprofits). That's based on it being a 1.3% payroll tax on labor costs of $7 million annually or more (so a business paying the per capita Seattle salary of $56,000 would pay the tax if it had 125 or more employees).

This means it could hit, say, some nursing homes and senior assisted living facilities...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
More Authentic, More Intentional


Gen. Stanley McChrystal's crisis leadership lessons for employers

By Gen. Stanley McChrystal

People have a natural inclination in a time of crisis to work "shoulder to shoulder" to solve problems, retired four-star General Stan McChrystal said during an April 7 webinar hosted by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.

But when the crisis is the coronavirus pandemic, it requires a new approach, the retired four-star general and Green Beret said in a recent webinar.

"The kind of challenge that should pull us together instead requires us to work in a new way and to be more effective than ever before," he said.

Leading in a time of crisis is hard enough, McChrystal said. But the current situation presents business leaders with the unique task of guiding teams remotely.

"Because our interactions are mostly digital, we have to be more authentic, we have to be more intentional, we have to be more demonstrative, and we have to be more of ourselves," he said.

That means giving your undivided attention to the person talking on screen and not looking at paperwork or your phone.

"Focus on the camera, respond, and ask questions," McChrystal explained. "You have to be on all the time."

And be genuine.

"When you're leading virtually all the time, you have to be who you are," he said.

"You have to be willing to be open, transparent, humble, and willing to admit your shortcomings."

Read the full story from the Connecticut Business & Industry Association