Edition for Monday, July 13, 2020
To view this edition of Impact online,
your COVID-19 Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you
several times each week through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We
intend to provide you with the latest state and federal information, as well
as highlighting the creativity and innovation that is occuring here in Maine
during this unpredictable and rapidly changing time. To assist you in
navigating the uncertainties ahead, we have created a diverse and
comprehensive collection of web-based resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community.
Do you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to
help in any way we can!
U.S. Department of Labor Announces
Additional Guidance For Workers And Employers About The Impact of FLSA, FMLA,
And FFCRA on The Workplace as America Reopens
Today the U.S. Department
of Labor announced additional guidance to provide information to workers and
employers about how the requirements and protections of the Fair Labor Standards
Act (FLSA), the Family
Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Family First Coronavirus
Response Act (FFCRA) impact the workplace as America continues to reopen
from the coronavirus. The new guidance provides plain-language questions and
answers addressing critical issues under all three laws.
FMLA-related questions address issues including
whether telemedicine visits count as in-person visits with a health care
provider and whether the FMLA restricts employers' ability to require workers
to get a COVID-19 test before returning to the worksite. FFCRA-related
questions address whether employers can require workers to telework or take
leave until they test negative for COVID-19 after taking leave to care for
someone in quarantine.
FLSA-related questions address issues including
how employers must count the number of hours employees work in flexible
scheduling and telework situations, whether hazard pay is required for
employees working during the COVID-19 pandemic, the effect of employers'
reducing salaries for exempt salaried workers during an economic slowdown,
and whether salaried exempt employees under Section 13(a)(1) who perform
other nonexempt duties during the COVID-19 public health emergency and may
continue to be treated as exempt.
Please click on the
hyperlinks above to view the new guidance. If you have additional or specific questions regarding
this new guidance, please call the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-487-9243.
Letter to the Editor: Child
Care Is Critical
Megan Diver, Senior
Government Relations Specialist for the Maine Chamber of Commerce, recently
submitted the following Letter to the Editor to the Bangor Daily News. We are
reprinting it below for your information.
The Maine Chamber of Commerce
completely agrees with Heidi MacAllister-McDonald's recent
OpEd highlighting the value of early
childhood education and urging increased support for early learning. Two of
the lessons learned from our pandemic experience are that child
care is an essential underpinning of Maine's economy, and that it
should be supported in a way that reflects its economic importance.
We are pleased that Gov. Janet Mills'
Economic Recovery Committee is advocating for
child care funding as an essential program supporting efforts to restart
Maine's economy. The Committee recommends a total of $45 million from the
federal CARES Act Economic Relief Fund be spent on child
care supports: $20 million for education and care to our youngest
children, and $25 million to support children during their out-of-school
Research shows us that high-quality
early programs are a solid
investment in Maine's future workforce. These programs teach our
youngest children the cognitive, social, and emotional skills they need to
succeed when they start kindergarten, creating the foundation for continued
success throughout school. Equally important, early education teachers make
it possible for many parents to go to work and know that their children are
safe and nurtured.
During the pandemic, we've seen how
critical child care is for our essential workers. We
now have a greater understanding of and value for the child
care industry as a key support for so many of Maine's economic
sectors. We hope Maine policymakers endorse the Economic Recovery Committee's
recommendations for needed support for this vital industry.
UMaine Economists Research
Economic Fallout From COVID-19 in Maine's Hospitality Industry
Two University of Maine
economists predict that earnings for Maine restaurants and lodgings will drop
by more than one-third from the previous year as a result of the COVID-19
pandemic. Todd Gabe, a professor of economics, and Andrew Crawley, an
assistant professor of regional economic development, conducted a study
exploring the economic fallout from the outbreak in the hospitality industry,
which includes restaurants, hotels, motels, inns and other lodging
establishments. They shared their findings, which rely in part on data from
Maine Revenue Services and the Opportunity Insights project, with the trade
Gabe and Crawley predict that
2020 hospitality sales will reach between $2.5 and $2.8 billion by the end of
the year, a 35 to 42 percent drop from last year, when sales were $4.3
billion. The forecast relies on actual data from January to April and estimated
earnings for May through December, which are based on a variety of scenarios
about how the rest of the year will play out.
Daily consumer spending in
hospitality fell 66 percent between January and early April, 50 percent
between January and early May and 33 percent between January and early June,
according to the report. Hospitality sales gradually rose between April and
June, but remain below a typical year, Gabe says.
Maine hospitality sales fell by 35 percent between March 2019 and 2020, and by 63 percent between April 2019 and 2020. One the other hand, sales were up by 12 percent in January and February when compared to last year. Restaurant activity generates about 70 percent of taxable sales in the Maine hospitality industry, Gabe says, and the pandemic affects them and lodging operators in different ways.
Gabe says hospitality creates
more than 10 percent of jobs in some counties, and the economic loss as a
result of COVID-19 could be significant in those areas. The two UMaine
economists plan to update their findings as new data becomes available, with
a new report expected to be released in August.
Hannaford Donates 7,000 Pounds of Cheese to
Good Shepherd Food Bank Through Pineland Farms' Cheese Donation Efforts
Pineland Farms Dairy announced
recently that Hannaford
Supermarkets joined their cheese donation efforts aimed at addressing
hunger relief and helping Maine dairy farmers. Hannaford committed to
purchasing $10,000 of Maine milk which will be transformed into 7,000 pounds
of cheese by Pineland Farms Dairy
and donated to Good
Shepherd Food Bank's Mainers Feeding
"This is a great example of how local partnerships work together to serve our communities when most in need," said Joe Luca, Director of Deli, Kitchen, and Bakery. "And Hannaford is proud to be a part of it."
"We know there is going to be
a long term need within the state and again very much appreciate the
commitment from the Hannaford team, not just to this project but also the
everyday support of locally-made cheese," said Mark Whitney, President and
Owner of Pineland Farms Dairy.
Good Shepherd Food Bank will
distribute the cheeses at 48 sites fixing meals-to-go, 10 shelters and 134
school pantry site serving student and families.
"We are beyond ecstatic to receive and give locally-made Pineland Farms Dairy cheese to our network of partner agencies," stated Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. "Before COVID, approximately 180,000 Mainers relied on our network of more than 500 partners every year and 1 in 5 Maine kids were food insecure. On a normal day, we provided more than 68,000 meals. For our neighbors already facing food insecurity, COVID means the very real danger of lost wages, further difficulty accessing enough food, and an increased reliance on the charitable food network. Add onto that the school closures and job losses, and we know that even more Mainers will be struggling."
While Maine no longer has the
challenges of an oversupply of milk it had at the start of the coronavirus
pandemic, farms continue to struggle with ongoing low prices for milk. The
purchase of milk by Hannaford for this donation program provides direct
support to struggling Maine farms.
"Like others, our farm has struggled up and down throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Pineland Farm Dairy as well as Hannaford have reached deep into their pockets and ability to make things better in the dairy industry and the community," said Julie Hicks of G. E. Hicks Dairy Farm INC. in Corinth. "To me that's an honor and a blessing to know that there are companies out there that cares as much as they do about the farms in Maine, to try to keep them staying strong and keep on going on."
In early June, Pineland Farms
fulfilled their pledge of 25,000 pounds of cheese to Good Shepherd Food Bank,
in partnership with Libra Foundation and Dairy Farmers of America.
Thursday, July 23 | The Bottom Line Podcast
with Carl Carlson and
Steve Cox, owners of ServiceMaster of the Lakes Region
Carl Carlson and Steve Cox,
owners of ServiceMaster of the Lakes Region, will be this week's special
guest on The Bottom
Line podcast. They join The
Bottom Line co-host John Williams of Williams Broadcasting to discuss the
challenges of owning and sustaining a small business during the continuing COVID-19
pandemic, while also providing essential services to homes and businesses
throughout their area of coverage, while trying to maintain a functioning
please visit Williams
scroll down to "Listen Online" at the bottom of the homepage. To listen to the archived recordings,
please visit The Bottom Line page on the Maine State Chamber's
website. In addition, The Bottom Line
podcast can be heard on iTunes, iHeart Radio, Soundcloud, Stitcher Radio,
Spotify and radio.com.
Senators Collins, King
Announce $450,000 to Expand Maine Apprenticeship Programs
U.S. Senators Susan Collins
and Angus King announced that the Maine Department of Labor's Registered
Apprenticeship Program (RAP) has received a
total of $450,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and
Training Administration (ETA). The competitive funding was awarded to Maine
to serve, improve, and expand the RAP model by broadening
registered apprenticeships to include health care, mental health care,
addiction treatment, and alternative pain management occupations.
"We have long supported efforts to help Maine workers receive the training and resources they need to successfully compete in the global economy, especially amid heightened job insecurity created by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. "This important investment will improve the accessibility and affordability of apprenticeships, allowing more Mainers to take advantage of these programs to gain in-demand skills and obtain good-paying jobs."
King Renews Push For
Easing Tariff Impact on Lobster Industry
An article in Mainebiz reported today that, noting
that the ongoing pandemic and China's retaliatory
tariffs have left the lobster industry in a "fragile economic
state," U.S. Sen. Angus King reminded the federal government of a
commitment to provide
support for lobstermen affected by the tariffs as promised in a
presidential memorandum. The June 24 memorandum calls on the U.S. Trade
Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the lobster
industry with the same form of financial assistance that has already been
extended to farmers as a result of the ongoing trade war.
King also noted that Maine
lobstermen are small business owners who support working waterfronts and the
livelihoods of 10,000 other people in Maine, and that they deserve the same
level of support the USDA offered to farmers affected by the retaliatory
tariffs in 2018 and 2018.
Pingree Introduces Legislation to Bolster Local Creative
Economies, Create Skilled Jobs Nationwide
last week, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced the Promoting Local Arts and Creative Economy
(PLACE) Workforce Act to invest in local economies across the
country. The bill will bolster the creative economy and empower workers to
find sustainable jobs in creative and cultural industries. The PLACE Act
creates local opportunity for the creative economy by:
definitions to include the creative economy in state and local workforce
plans, Native American Programs, Dislocated Worker Grants, Recovering
Individual programs, Corrections Education, Career and Technical Education,
Work Study, Economic Adjustment, prisoner training programs, and Veterans
affairs programs under Title 38;
technical assistance offered by small business development centers in order
to foster strong business plans and the execution of those plans;
Creative Economy Grants which incubate small business in their "startup"
phase by allowing for wage subsidies;
Creative Economy Apprenticeship Grants under the Department of Education to
helping teach the future creative economy workforce;
tax codes regarding deductions for artists' works and the performing artists
creative economy businesses in the existing New Market Tax Credit; and,
those participating in the creative economy the same FEMA disaster benefits
as other businesses.
Use the Maine State Chamber's Blog and Daily
Impact to Tell Your Story!
Numerous Maine companies are stepping up or
pivoting nimbly, as Maine people resourcefully address the challenges of this
pandemic. Share your perspective and experience with us and with the rest of
the business community. How are you facing and overcoming the challenges
posed by this pandemic? What are you and your employees doing in this
dramatically different economy? Tell us about the innovations your company or
employees are making or ways you have adapted your company to meet your
blog entry should be 300 to 500 words. Join
us in creating a written history of the business community's resilience and
innovation during this extraordinary time. Please submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. For
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing email@example.com or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
Providing Books to Maine
Maine educators were recently surveyed about critical needs of their students. Books were highlighted as a top priority for students of all ages. Supporting reading is essential for students to continue to thrive in schools. Making certain that our students, particularly our youngest readers, have easy access to books during the end of the school year and throughout the summer is crucial for preventing summer slide.
Even with yeoman-like efforts
by Maine teachers and a hands-on approach from the Maine Department of
Education to ensure all Maine students have been able to continue learning
remotely during the pandemic, we know that learning over these past few
months has inevitably been disrupted. In addition to the school year
disruption, student achievement often widens during the summer, an outcome
referred to as summer slide. Summer slide accounts for as much as 85 percent
of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their
middle- and upper-income peers. Providing students with appropriate books
will help address this challenge. Not only does summer reading enable
students to continue practicing foundational skills, but it opens the world
to students through stories and knowledge building around topics of interest. We need your help to ensure students across
our 16 counties have access to books, an essential commodity.
Here are a few ways you can
support Maine students:
1 2020 Maine Books Challenge: Educate Maine is leading this
initiative to provide students with books while supporting local bookstores.
You can purchase an online or physical gift card at one of Maine's
independent bookstores. Every $10 donation provides a book for a Maine
student. Every donation will be matched by the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein
up to $5,000. Teachers across Maine will help coordinate book distribution to
students. If interested in supporting this effort, please email Katherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Scholastic Books: This company has offered significant discounts
to help get books to Maine students. For example, a $1,000 donation can
support 300 books for 100 students. A $5,000 donation can support 1,500 books
for 500 students. If interested in supporting this effort, please email Megan
Diver at email@example.com.
3 Community Book Donations: Gently used books are also needed
across Maine. We are seeking community drop off spots at local employers
throughout the 16 counties. If your business is interested in becoming a
location for books to be collected, please email Megan Diver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books will be distributed to
students directly through their schools and at local meal sites throughout
the summer. Additional information about summer literacy initiatives can be
Thank you for supporting Maine students.
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