June 29, 2020
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Top Stories

Gov. Inslee orders masks worn in public; halts any county moving into Phase 4 as statewide cases rise

The governor announced a statewide mask mandate last week to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. In Yakima County, hard-hit by the virus, he said businesses must enforce mask use by their customers. The governor also paused any counties moving into Phase 4 of his "Safe Start" reopening plan. Need PPE? Check the Rebound and Recovery website's PPE portal.

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USMCA goes into effect on Wednesday

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement enters into full force on Wednesday. This is a milestone for American manufacturers, farmers, employers and employees. As one of the nation's most trade-driven states, Washington stands to benefit from this reworked and modernized version of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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Gov. Inslee joins bipartisan call for federal investment in broadband

From Pennsylvania to Washington, from North Dakota to Kansas, governors of both parties joined together last week in calling on Congress and the president to invest federal dollars in broadband -- especially in rural areas.

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AWB to host webinar on impact of newly announced foreign worker visa freeze

Last Monday President Donald Trump signed an order suspending visas affecting hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in the United States. AWB will host a webinar with legal experts to examine the impact of this visa suspension. Register for this free webinar here.

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This Wednesday: Accident Prevention & Accident Investigation Plans webinar

Join two top legal experts as they discuss how employers should best comply with the rule that every Washington business create a written Accident Prevention Plan or Program. This Wednesday's webinar will help employers comply with these rules in a way specific to your company's needs. Register now!

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Get the resources to safely reopen at the AWB Rebound and Recovery website

Employers across the state continue to find ideas, insights and equipment to reopen safely with AWB's Rebound and Recovery website. One month and 15,000 sessions after its launch, the site's PPE Connect directory and Business Tool Kit are helping employers equip their employees to safely operate. A new resources page has a variety of useful, constantly updated links.

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Call for entries: Washington Excellence Awards and Manufacturing Excellence Awards

The Washington Excellence Awards program is your chance to showcase your Washington business. With three new categories for 2020, there are even more opportunities for your company to get recognition, and self-nominations are encouraged. The deadline to enter is July 31 and it only takes five minutes. Submit your entry or nominate a business now! This week, we are featuring three of our 13 award categories: the Washington Achieve Award, Leading Environmental Practices Award and the Washington Advance Award.

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Federal Issues

Federal watchdog office releases report on COVID-19 response

A top federal oversight agency has examined the government's response to the novel coronavirus and offers ways to improve the recovery efforts. Among the program's reviews: the Paycheck Protection Program, unemployment insurance and COVID-19 testing.

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Other News

Ponderay Newsprint shuts down paper mill, dealing major blow to northeast Washington economy

A major Pend Oreille County employer has shut down indefinitely. The Ponderay Newsprint Co. in Usk has employed more than 130 people and supplied newsprint for publications across the country and globe.

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Higher education leaders: 'We're here for you'

A new video from the leaders of Washington's colleges and universities has a simple message for students during this time of the novel coronavirus: "You matter to us and we're here to help."

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'People positive, planet positive and profit positive': Starbucks releases 19th annual Global Social Impact Report

Seattle-based Starbucks has released its 19th annual Global Social Impact Report. The report focuses on three areas: leading in sustainability, creating meaningful opportunities and strengthening our communities.

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Citing unrest, cost of living and other factors, firms announce departure from Seattle

Several employers announced last week that they will be leaving Seattle for areas with a lower cost of living, less civil unrest, and a more tolerant, business-friendly political atmosphere.

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Final week: Deadline is tomorrow to apply for Don C. Brunell Scholarship for Future Leaders

This is the final day to apply 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 this Tuesday, June 30.

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June is Employee Wellness Month, meaning employee assistance programs are more important than ever

Although June's Employee Wellness Month is officially coming to a close this week, the AWB HealthChoice plan has tools that can help employers make every month count.

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AWB will be closed Thursday and Friday

In observance of the Independence Day holiday, AWB will be closed on Thursday and Friday. From all of us at AWB, have a safe, happy and enjoyable Fourth of July.



AWB Events & Resources

The next Wednesday webinar is July 8, covering child care and early childhood learning

The COVID-19 Employer Resources Webinar Series will take a week off before the July Fourth long weekend. We will be back July 8 with the latest expert insights on all aspects of the coronavirus response and recovery, to help you get back to business. Join the free webinar for a very important topic for our state's workforce: child care and early childhood learning. Register online now!

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AWB announces new webinar series focused on business management resources

AWB is pleased to announce a new webinar series coming this August for new and small business owners and managers. If you're just starting out or you need a refresher on what's new, the AWB Business Tool Kit webinar series provides a foundation for business management. Register for the whole five-webinar series and save $25 through August 12. Secure your spot now!

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AWB invites you to "Connect with Congress" on August 11

Secure your spot to engage with our federal representatives on Tuesday, Aug. 11. We are pleased to offer Federal Affairs Summit this year all online and we are excited to have Kelly Fukai join us as our event moderator. Join the conversation from the safe distance of your home or office. Register now.

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Tweet of the Week

Climate Pledge Arena



They Said It

Face Coverings

"We want to help each other. There is a commonality of purpose. If doctors can put their lives on the line, we can put on a mask." ~ Gov. Jay Inslee, announcing a new mandate for face coverings while in public, except when six feet of physical distancing can be maintained.




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Now More Than Ever, Health Insurance Matters
Invest in Early Childhood Education


Fixing child-care shortage and Washington's economic recovery go hand in hand

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

As Washington gets back to business, many job-seeking parents of young children face a frustrating double bind. Even if they do find employment that will help them provide for their family, the short supply of quality, affordable child care makes it impossible for them to take the job.

Nearly half -- 47% -- of unemployed parents cited lack of child care as a barrier to re-employment in a May survey, according to a state Child Care Collaborative Task Force child-care industry assessment. Since March, more than 1,100 licensed child-care providers have at least temporarily closed, exacerbating a shortage flagged by state lawmakers long before COVID-19...

Even before this spring's upheaval, nearly half of Washington parents reported difficulty finding and keeping affordable child care. Twenty-seven percent reported leaving a job, school or training because of a lack of consistent, affordable care, according to a Department of Commerce report.

This is not just a problem for working families; it is a drain on the state's economy. Commerce estimates that employee turnover and missed work due to child-care issues create an annual $2.08 billion drag on the state economy. That number triples when figuring in opportunity costs.

Addressing Washington's child-care shortage will not be easy, especially during the tough economic times ahead. But quality, affordable child care is a linchpin to the state's economic recovery. More must be done to ensure this essential sector does not fail.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Foreign Workers Support Our Economy


Big Tech isn't the only loser in Trump's visa freeze

By Tae Kim

On Monday, Trump signed an executive order that freezes access to a number of work visas through year-end, including the H-1B visa for highly-skilled foreigners, which is primarily given to workers in the technology industry. The issuance of new green cards will also stay halted until the end of the year. The administration said the order would free up jobs for unemployed Americans, adding it would block about 500,000 people from entering the country this year.

The move sparked an avalanche of criticism from technology companies. They said the measures will hurt their ability to recruit talent and have deeper negative ramifications for the economy.

An Amazon.com Inc. spokesperson called the order "shortsighted," adding it prevents "high skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America's economic recovery, [putting] American's global competitiveness at risk."

A Facebook Inc. representative said Trump is using the pandemic as justification for "limiting" immigration, which will make "our country's recovery even more difficult."

And Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith said on social media, "Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world's talent or create uncertainty and anxiety."

Read the full column in The Seattle Times