Federal Relief – The National Restaurant Association continues to lead federal lobbying efforts to address issues with the Restaurant Relief Fund (RRF), and secure federal funding for industry-targeted relief programs. In response to the association’s ongoing efforts, House Republicans this week introduced the ENTRÉE Act. It would provide $60 billion for the RRF, fully funding the current program. The ENTRÉE Act differs from other proposed fixes; however, there is a growing bipartisan acknowledgement that the RRF should be fully funded, and there is bipartisan momentum to fix the program. Operators should visit RestaurantsAct.com to sync with ongoing lobbying efforts. More details.
Health and Safety – Reacting to the explosive spread of Delta variant across the country, many communities are considering reimposing mask mandates and other preventative measures. According to new data, the Delta variant is significantly more contagious than earlier strains and is rapidly spreading through unvaccinated populations. And, the strain is also “breaking through,” infecting vaccinated individuals. Some restaurants were forced to close down this week as vaccinated staff became infected. Los Angeles County became the first county to reimpose a mask mandate but others are likely to follow as flu season draws near. At this juncture, much of the discussion centers on masking requirements and social distancing, not shutting down in-person activities. More details.
Unemployment Benefits – As we approach nearly one month since many of the 26 governors opted to prematurely end federal unemployment benefits, a number of organizations are examining the impact of those actions on the labor market. This week, Morning Consult, the American Survey Center, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center provided analysis related to the issue. Generally, most economists agree that enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are one of many factors that have been keeping workers on the sidelines. Expect intense debate over the coming months as different interest groups attempt to drive their political narrative around the issue on unemployment benefits and other social safety net programs. In related news, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this week indicated that many states are struggling with outstanding federal UI loans. Many states used federal relief dollars this year to avoid raising taxes on businesses. In 2022, that may not be an option and state policymakers may have to find new revenue to cover obligations.
Oregon – Oregon amended its equal pay requirement to permanently exempt vaccine incentives as well as temporarily suspend hiring bonuses. Both forms of compensation threatened to trigger requirements under the state’s requirement of equal compensation for comparable work. More details.
Labor Department – The agency announced this week that it’s accepting public comments until Aug. 23 on a proposed rule that would direct federal contractors to pay workers a $15/hr minimum wage starting next year.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Maine – The legislature advanced a bill to the governor’s desk that would create a commission tasked with devising a family and medical leave program for the state.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
NLRB – Vice President Harris cast the tie-breaking vote this week to approve Jennifer Abruzzo’s nomination to serve as National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
EEOC – A federal judge ruled that Walmart must pay more than $125 million in a discrimination case filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), although damages are likely to be capped at $300,000.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
PRO Act – Labor advocates and the employer community mobilized this week ahead of a U.S. Senate committee hearing on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Maine – The state has led the national food sovereignty food movement. It was an early adopter of laws protecting the cottage food industry. And, it will now be the first state in the country to consider a constitutional ballot initiative this Nov. that would establish a fundamental right to grow and consume food.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe