April 20, 2020
Fast Facts
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

Governor, bipartisan legislative group offers plans for reopening

After Gov. Jay Inslee released his plan and standards last week for reopening the economy, three of the four Washington legislative caucuses released a joint bipartisan plan of their own. It joins a plan from the U.S. Chamber and other documents laying out roadmaps to recovery and getting back to work. An AWB task force is also coming together to help facilitate the development of a statewide reopening and recovery plan, working together with our counterparts in Oregon and California.

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Working group sends letter to governor calling for opening of construction work

A construction roundtable group, including AWB, has been working with the governor's office on a plan to safely restart construction in Washington. The plan calls for a phased approach based on risk levels, not construction type.

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Unemployment in Washington at nearly 600,000; weekly payouts highest since Great Depression

Washington state launched a major update to its unemployment system over the weekend to handle expanded federal benefits, and had some bumps along the way as filings continue at dramatically higher rates than any time in history. Meanwhile, at a national level, 10 years of spectacular job growth have been nearly wiped out in four weeks.

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Unemployment benefits now open for self-employed; SBA loans run out of funds in record time

Unemployment benefits for self-employed people, independent contractors and others can provide a significant financial lifeline during the historic economic downturn. Learn more and apply today at www.esd.wa.gov. These benefits could be more important than ever now that significant federal loan and grant sources have dried up. A number of smaller grants are still available, dependent on location.

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Communicate often, be flexible with employees and learn about new benefits, employment experts say

As the state struggles to adjust to a new reality, Washington employers are encouraged to communicate and be up front with their employees, be flexible with their concerns and take advantage of new state and federal benefits that may help during the coronavirus pandemic .

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U.S. Chamber Foundation offers $5,000 grants to small businesses

Businesses with three to 20 employees now have access to a new grant to help them meet payroll, pay rent or other expenses. The new Save Small Business Fund is a grantmaking initiative from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation offering short-term relief for small employers in the United States and its territories.

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AWB survey campaign tracks how Washington companies are impacted by COVID-19

A new survey of AWB members finds that 93% have seen their business negatively affected by COVID-19. AWB has been periodically surveying members as part of an effort to provide Washington employers with timely and updated information regarding the coronavirus. The survey is tracking how companies are responding, seeking to anticipate what resources will best address the pandemic and get us into recovery as soon as possible.

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Poll of Washingtonians finds hope, solidarity and widespread economic impacts of COVID-19

A new statewide poll finds that nearly 1/4 of Washingtonians say they or someone in their household have lost their job due to public health measures. The poll by Quinn Thomas and DHM Research shows signals of hope and solidarity, and signs of how the economic pain many are experiencing is shifting behaviors and producing a clear need for assistance.

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Federal Issues

Congress reportedly near deal to replenish empty Paycheck Protection Program coffers

Last Thursday the Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan program for small businesses, exhausted its $350 billion allocation. Congress is reportedly nearing a deal to add $300 billion more to the program, plus funding for disaster loans, hospitals and testing.

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Other News

EPA withdraws 'unattainable' water quality standards for Washington

AWB and other employer groups applauded a decision last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw some of its 2016 water quality standards for Washington. This means that Washington's rigorous clean water standards, developed by the Department of Ecology, are confirmed.

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Boeing to phase back to full commercial airplane production

With enhanced employee health and safety procedures in place, Boeing announced on Thursday that it would be resuming commercial aircraft production in the Puget Sound region with a phased-in approach. About 27,000 people will return to production in the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs. Work will also resume toward restarting production of the 737 MAX.

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Sen. McCoy announces retirement from the Legislature after 17 years

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, stepped down from the Senate effective last Friday, ending a 17-year term in the state House and Senate.

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Sen. Steve Hobbs tapped to oversee National Guard's support of food banks in Western Washington

Washington National Guard Lt. Col. Steve Hobbs, who is also a Democratic state senator from Lake Stevens, has been given the task of overseeing the National Guard's support of food banks in Western Washington.

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Dru Garson to lead engagement work for AWB Grassroots Alliance

CEO of Greater Grays Harbor begins May 1 to serve as liaison between AWB and local chambers of commerce throughout the state.

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New Report: "The Path to 70% Credential Attainment"

What will it take to attain the goal of at least 70% of Washington students attaining post-secondary credentials? The Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning have released a new report on progress toward that important goal.

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It's never too late to apply for college, job training, or financial aid

This year has seen changes and unexpected endings for high school seniors, but the Washington Student Achievement Council reminds graduates that it's not too late to make next year a success in college, apprenticeships or other post-secondary training.

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Applications open for Don C. Brunell Scholarship for Future Leaders

Applications are now being accepted for the Don C. Brunell Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year. The scholarship of up to $1,000 is available for college, vocational, certificate or graduate programs. Applicants must be the child or grandchild of an AWB member or employee. The deadline is June 30.

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AWB Events & Resources

Spring Meeting will now be virtual -- and free!

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recommendations of state and federal officials, AWB has made the decision to postpone its annual Spring Meeting to June 3. In addition, Spring Meeting will shift to a virtual event. AWB invites you to participate from the comfort of your home office. Full details and registration for the virtual event is available online.

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HR & Employment Law Webinar on May 20: Performance evaluations

Learn 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 May 20. 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 weekly webinar will continue focus on employment law next week

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. This week and next, our speakers have been focusing on employment law and employee benefits questions with experts from both employment law practices and employee health plans. Check our webinar landing page for who's on the agenda to connect you with the latest information, direct from top officials.

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Best of the Blog

Unemployment kicks into high gear; State officials weigh gradual reopening of economy

Washington has a long way to go toward an economic recovery. In the meantime, billions in new unemployment benefits could be a financial lifeline for both traditional workers and also the self-employed and independent contractors. Read about these and other takeaways from Friday's webinar with Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown, Unemployment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine, and others. Read the full blog post here.

Tweet of the Week

How to Reopen America

They Said It

Returning to Work

"We switched our society off like a light switch, and we're going to turn it on with a dimmer." ~ Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, who supports creating a safe, workable path to getting businesses operating again, also says people should not expect a sudden return to normal.

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Bedrock of Our Economy

It's time to rally around Washington employers

By AWB President Kris Johnson

Washington's small businesses have entered a new era as our state and nation fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today it's critical that we support our local small businesses, and all Washington employers, to ensure a strong economic future for our state.

Our state's small businesses are the foundation of our economy, and they've been impacted hard and fast by the coronavirus.

From making medical supplies to supporting family wage jobs, our employers will help us navigate this time of great change.

And when our world emerges on the other side, our small businesses will be leading the recovery.

For now, let's support our small businesses any way we can.

Every successful company starts with an idea and an entrepreneur willing to take a risk. These employers create and support the jobs that sustain our communities.

During this challenging time, let's make sure they know that Washington has their back.

Read the full op-ed in The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Time to Restart Construction

Can't find paper products? Tell Gov. Inslee to allow more construction

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

For every two-by-four cut at a saw mill, a pile of wood chips and sawdust is created and used to make paper products.

If Gov. Jay Inslee would allow all commercial and residential construction to resume, it would put thousands of people back to work and help re-start the economy, as well as help boost the supply of paper towels and toilet paper.

Anyone who has been on the hunt for these items knows how scarce they have become during the past couple of months, so creating more raw material for paper products is a big deal.

Restarting all construction in the state should be among the first actions the governor makes as he gradually lifts his stay-home order, which is scheduled to last until May 4.

We suggest he make an exception to his target date and allow builders to get going right away. They need time to get supplies and get their crews together, and the sooner they can get started, the better...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald