May 18, 2020
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Top Stories

State issues Phase 2 guidance for more industries as AWB calls for safe restart of manufacturing

AWB called for the safe restart of manufacturing throughout the state last week as the state released Phase 2 guidelines for multiple industries including construction, manufacturing, in-store retail and personal services such as hair stylists and cosmetologists. For now, the guidance applies to employers in ten Washington counties that have moved to Phase 2 of the Safe Start Washington phased reopening plan. While most of the state is still in Phase 1, the release of these guidelines will help employers plan ahead.

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Gov. Inslee orders hiring freeze and tells agencies to plan for 15% cuts

With a projected deficit of $7.1 billion in the coming state budgets, Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered a freeze on most state hiring. The state's budget office sent a letter last week to state agencies telling them to find ways of cutting 15% from their current budgets.

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Fraud on the rise as scammers file for unemployment using stolen identities

The Department of Employment Security announced last week that it would pause unemployment payments for several days to weed out fraudulent claims. The state has paid out $2.5 billion in jobless benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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AWB 'Rebound & Recovery' co-chair Michelle Hege takes part in 'The Way Forward' KING 5 town hall

Michelle Hege, co-chair of AWB's new Rebound and Recovery Task Force, was a featured voice in a KING 5 tele-town hall last week. Hege said employers are eager to reopen safely, and she emphasized that many businesses are just days or weeks away from not being able to reopen at all.

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Rescheduled for this Wednesday: Webinar on agriculture with Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse

Washington's national leaders in agricultural policy will discuss the issue this Wednesday in a rescheduled webinar. U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse will join John Wyss, the state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to speak on agriculture issues and other topics. The AWB webinar is free and open to all, but pre-registration is required.

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AWB weekly webinar moves to new date and time, covers industry-specific resources

The COVID-19 Employer Resources Webinar Series is moving to Wednesdays from 9-10 a.m., starting next Wednesday, May 27, with a focus on the hospitality industry. As certain industries move into Phase 2 of the governor's Safe Start Washington plan, we will be bringing you more industry-specific resources to help you get back to business. 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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AWB Survey: Supply chain disruptions on the rise as Washington turns attention to a safe restart

As the curve flattens, concerns over the supply chain are on the rise as Washington employers turn their attention to the eventual reopening of the state economy. Washingtonians continue to step up, including a strong response from manufacturers contributing to production of essential protective equipment for local health care providers and first responders.

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Federal Issues

Bipartisan push calls for more support for child care providers

A group of Republicans and Democrats are calling on the Senate to bolster assistance for child care workers and providers in the next phase of COVID-19 relief.

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Other News

Primary election set after filing week

Nearly 40 candidates will challenge Gov. Jay Inslee during this year's primary on Aug. 4. Other prominent races emerged after the filing week deadline on Friday. There were also a few surprises about who filed to run for offices -- and who didn't. A major change announced today: Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, is withdrawing from the race for lieutenant governor, citing an extension of his duty as a lieutenant colonel in the Washington National Guard's coronavirus response.

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SBA releases Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness rules

The U.S. Small Business Administration has released the loan forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program. The application spells out how business owners can successfully achieve loan forgiveness, which can cover up to eight weeks of payroll, plus other expenses.

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Local grants to help small business available in several Washington communities

Local grants, federal loans, unemployment benefits and federal tax relief are among the current highlights of help for small businesses and other employers navigating the coronavirus economy.

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Employers have trust, and responsibility to take care of employees during COVID-19, communications experts say

Several of the Pacific Northwest's leading communication experts encouraged Washington employers to navigate the pandemic with employee needs front and center during today's COVID-19 webinar, presented by AWB and sponsor Premera.

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Rep. June Robinson appointed to fill remainder of Sen. John McCoy's term

The newest member of the state Senate is newly appointed Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett. The longtime state representative was appointed last week to fill the remainder of the term of the recently retired Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip. Her house seat was filled by nonprofit consultant and former Inslee campaign aide Emily Wicks, appointed to serve out the rest of the year.

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Free lifetime Manufacturers Marketplace membership being offered

What would normally cost $2,500 a year will be offered for free to Washington employers who sign up with the Manufacturers Marketplace by June 30.

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Landau Associates announces new CEO

Jay Bower, the engineer who has led Edmonds-based Landau Associates for seven years, is retiring. He is being replaced by former COO Chip Halbert, who is stepping up to serve as CEO.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month; AWB's HealthChoice coverage offers an EAP to help employees

Mental Health Awareness Month is a good time to remember that millions of our employees are afflicted with mental illnesses. AWB's HealthChoice coverage includes a free employee assistance program, giving your employees someone to talk with 24 hours a day.

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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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Enjoy Memorial Day! Fast Facts to be published on Tuesday

Next week's Fast Facts will be published on Tuesday. We wish all of our members and readers a safe, enjoyable and appropriately socially distanced Memorial Day. We join all of Washington in remembering and saluting our members of the armed forces who died while serving our country.

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AWB Events & Resources

Get ready for the free Spring Meeting virtual event June 3

AWB's Spring Meeting brings Washington's business community together to focus on challenges and solutions to help all employers thrive. Climate and energy policy will be key topics, plus updates on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Join us for a day of engaging content and policy discussions that will keep you up to date on the state policy issues that may impact your company and employees. Full details and registration for the free virtual event are 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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Nomination deadline extended through July for Washington Excellence Awards

Among the annual highlights of the year for AWB is the chance to recognize and celebrate Washington employers. Our annual awards program allows us to showcase all that Washington employers have to offer. The nomination deadline for the Washington Excellence Awards has been extended to Friday, July 31. Take time now to nominate a business you know online!

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Tweet of the Week

Filing week roster



They Said It

Manufacturers Step Up

"The team in the plant was unbelievably excited. My job turned to keeping social distancing in the facility because everybody was excited and wanted to get involved." ~ Scott Houtz, director of operations at Novolex Shields in Yakima, which has converted from making food packaging and utensils to making hospital gowns and face shields. The factory's global parent company has a similar effort going in other plants, which all began in Yakima and with a March action alert from AWB calling for manufacturers to pivot to making personal protective equipment. Novolex will be speaking about their pivot to PPE during the 2020 virtual AWB Spring Meeting on June 3. The event is free and open to all AWB members.




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Be Patient

Cut restaurants some slack when they reopen. They've got new rules to follow

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Restaurant owners have always relied on loyal and contented customers to keep their businesses afloat. In the coming weeks, they will need that customer support more than ever.

Phase 2 of the state's Safe Start reopening plan is scheduled for June 1, which would allow restaurants to open under strict social distancing guidelines.

The restaurant business has been hit especially hard by the state's stay-home order, and being allowed to open up seats in the dining room instead of providing only take-out service will be a much needed economic boost for most establishments...

Everyone will have to do their part during the transition or COVID-19 cases in the area might explode.

Specifically, that means following the rules and cutting restaurant workers some slack as they figure out how to navigate under new state-imposed requirements for their business...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald