May 4, 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

Gov. Inslee extends stay-home order until May 31 and offers blueprint for reopening

Washington is succeeding in slowing the spread of COVID-19 but the fight is far from over, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday as he announced that he will extend his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order until May 31. The governor also laid out plans for a four-phase reopening of business, saying the state could move to Phase 2 by June. In a statement, AWB President Kris Johnson said manufacturing is one sector of the economy that may be safely restarted sooner than later, and encouraged the governor to remain flexible.

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Employers call on governor to pause rulemaking during pandemic

AWB drafted a letter requesting that Gov. Jay Inslee put a temporary halt to all non-critical rulemaking as the state continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis. More than 50 AWB members, both businesses and associations, signed the letter, which was delivered to the governor last Wednesday.

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AWB continues work on Phase 2 and 3 of construction re-opening

Many construction projects ramped up again this week across the state, thanks to the Phase 1 agreement that AWB and other employer groups helped negotiate with Gov. Jay Inslee. AWB and the rest of the construction work group continue to move forward on the next phases of re-opening.

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Facebook small business grants, other finance options highlight today's webinar

AWB's weekly COVID-19 Employer Resources webinar this morning brought timely news for employers seeking financing options. Officials from Facebook and MainVest shared how their companies are working to help small businesses survive the coronavirus economic downturn. Leaders from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Small Business Administration shared insights as well.

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AWB collects the latest information on employer resources

A patchwork of resources and aid for Washington employers can require extensive research. Combined, there are significant opportunities at the federal, state and local government level, as well as from the private sector. Please visit AWB's COVID-19 Resources for Employers web page today and check out the financial resources, utilities and other sections that could lead to immediate relief for small businesses and families impacted by the coronavirus economic fallout.

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New AWB Rebound and Recovery page offers resources for reopening

Restarting Washington's economy will be a deliberate process that will take place carefully and with worker and public safety top of mind . To help employers as they prepare to reopen, AWB is collecting resources on a new Rebound and Recovery page.

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Latest round of AWB survey signals Washington employers hope for the future

Part of AWB's continuing effort to provide Washington employers with timely and updated information regarding the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic is a survey campaign that is tracking how companies are responding. Latest data indicate over half of employers who have had to lay off workers during the pandemic expect to bring back all staff once their business can reopen.

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Reps. Kilmer, Herrera Beutler push major relief for small business

U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer and Jaime Herrera Beutler are working together to support a $900 billion overhaul of the popular Paycheck Protection Program. This would allow many more American small businesses to gain access to the program's funding, which has so far run out quickly. Further, Kilmer has introduced a bill that would provide a tax rebate up to $120,000 for qualifying small businesses.

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Federal Issues

Lawmakers return to D.C. with growing list of 'red lines' and obstacles

Republican members of Congress say they will not consider a new coronavirus relief package unless it includes liability protections for employers. Democrats are saying there must be a major infusion of funds to help state and local governments.

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Other News

Jobless claims spike again as new federal benefits become available

The Employment Security Department paid out $988 million in jobless claims the week of April 19-25, and has paid out a total of nearly $1.5 billion since COVID-19 job losses began on March 7. In total, one in five Washington workers has applied for jobless claims since the pandemic hit.

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Lawmakers, communities respond to Alcoa Intalco curtailment announcement

Alcoa has announced that it will curtail production at its Intalco Works plant in Ferndale by July due to declining market conditions. Seven hundred people work at the plant, which has operated since 1966 and is the last remaining aluminum smelter west of the Mississippi.

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Election filing starts next Monday for local, state and federal public offices

County election offices and the Secretary of State's office will begin accepting applications for elected office next Monday. With state and most local offices closed, prospective candidates should prepare to file online or by mail.

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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 that is free and open to all AWB members. AWB invites you to participate from the comfort of your home or 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 cover e-commerce with 'Take your brick and mortar business online'

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. Coming up next, our speakers will discuss how to take your brick and mortar business online with experts from both website development and successful online retailers. Check our webinar landing page for who's on the agenda to connect you with the latest information, direct from trusted sources.

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Best of the Blog

Employers encouraged to help develop detailed safety protocols for their industry

Getting Washington back to work will require employers to follow broad safety guidelines, such as social distancing and procedures to address sick workers, state officials say. Employers are encouraged to get involved and help make the rules for Washington's new coronavirus normal by working with state leaders. Read the full blog post here.

Tweet of the Week

West Coast Business Leadership

They Said It

Manufacturers Meet the Demand

"The building's on fire -- you can run away or you can run in... To me, this is bigger than 9/11. Gonna effect much more people." ~ Scott Whitehead, owner of Benchmark Motoring, a car safety equipment maker in Bellevue that has begun creating easily sanitized face masks for front-line health care workers.

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Don't Punish Job-Creators

Seattle's war on employers must end now

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

To sustain core services through the current economic and public-health hurricane, cities must cut spending.

They are no different than households and businesses forced to spend less to get through the downturn.

Yet, instead of preparing and confronting this painful reality, some Seattle City Council members are instead exploiting fear and uncertainty during the crisis, to make another run at a punitive jobs tax. This must end.

Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales propose a payroll tax penalizing 800 businesses employing some 300,000 people. Piggybacking on labor's crusade against Jeff Bezos, it's dubbed an "Amazon tax" even though Amazon is just 0.125% of the number of companies affected.

It's a new twist on Seattle's failed head tax. That was canceled in 2018, after union interests seeking the tax gave up in the face of widespread community opposition.

Shouldn't business pay its share? Yes, it already does in Seattle. The city has unusually high business taxes, and business generates a majority of its revenue...

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Science Leads the Way

Richland scientists respond to COVID-19 global pandemic with research and technology

By Steven Ashby, director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

When I devoted my February column to biodefense research, I had no idea how timely that piece would be. It touched on studies at the Department of Energy's Pacific National Laboratory that seek to unravel the disease-causing mechanisms of pathogens -- even if they were previously unknown -- and how that research could lead to new diagnostics and treatment.

Fast forward to today, and we see the devastating impact of COVID-19 around the world and close to home.

At PNNL, we are exploring additional ways to apply our expertise, research and technology to help address this global pandemic...

From supporting local businesses to helping elderly neighbors or volunteering at the food bank, I am impressed by how our community is responding to the challenges created by COVID-19.

I hope you also share my pride in the role DOE and PNNL are taking in the fight against this new disease. Meanwhile, please stay home and stay healthy.

Read the full column in The Tri-City Herald