August 6, 2020
Seneca Foundry Provides Facility Tour, Hosts U.S. Chamber Endorsement of Sen. Ernst’s 2020 Re-Election Bid
On Friday, July 31, Lori Mason and Kirk McCollough of the Seneca Foundry in Webster City gave a tour of their manufacturing facility to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. The Seneca Foundry dates back to 1909, and ABI has been proud to have them as members since 1976. Lori and Kirk were great hosts and provided a wonderful atmosphere for the day’s activities.

After the tour of the foundry, employees gathered for an event to present Sen. Ernst with the U.S. Chamber Spirit of Enterprise Award. The award is presented annually to members of Congress based on how they voted on critical business legislation and their efforts to seek out bipartisan solutions.

Along with the award, the U.S. Chamber announced they were formally endorsing Sen. Ernst in her 2020 re-election. Because of limitations on travel, ABI staff filled in for their federal partners at the U.S. Chamber. Watch the Seneca Foundry tour and Sen. Ernst accepting the Spirit of Excellence Award.

Two Public Policy Meetings Completed This Week
ABI’s 2021 public policy process kicked off this week with the Employment and Workforce and Workplace and Product Safety Committees. Members convened and provided their recommendations for next year’s public policies. They also received briefings from Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director Ryan West and Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts. Their recommendations will be considered by the Legislative Committee in the next few weeks, and ultimately the Board of Directors will provide final approval in September. ABI would like to thank all of the members who took time to help formulate the recommendations. We would also like to thank Deputy Director West and Commissioner Roberts for speaking before members.

Gulliford to Speak to Environment Committee
The ABI public policy team is pleased to announce Jim Gulliford, administrator of EPA Region VII, will be our guest speaker for the Environment Committee, which will meet virtually next Thursday, August 13, at 11:30 a.m. Gulliford, who oversees four states including Iowa and nine tribal nations, has over 40 years of experience in the field. He served as executive director of the Soil and Water Conservation from 2009 to 2016 before being appointed to his current post by President Trump in 2017. He also served as Region VII administrator from 2001-2006 during the Bush administration. ABI members and staff look forward to hearing from him next week. There is still time to register for the meeting.

IIPAC Board to Convene Soon; Legislative Endorsements to Follow
The Iowa Industry Political Action Committee (IIPAC) Board will meet in the next few weeks to discuss and ultimately endorse pro-business candidates running for the Iowa House and Senate. IIPAC, comprised of ABI members, is the vehicle ABI uses to ensure industry’s voice is heard loud and clear in the election process. IIPAC invests in the campaigns of and awards the Friend of Iowa Business endorsement to candidates who back a pro-jobs agenda for Iowa. The IIPAC Board considers a number of factors including voting records of incumbents seeking re-election when deciding who to support during the election. You can view how your legislator voted by clicking here and then going to “88th General Assembly Key Votes”. ABI appreciates all of the members who have invested in IIPAC. Watch for more on this in the coming weeks.

Initial Unemployment, Continuing Claims Down from Last Week
Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) announced there were 6,765 initial unemployment claims filed by individuals for the week of July 26-August 1. This continues the downward trend we’ve seen in the last few weeks. There was approximately $29.9 million paid out of the state unemployment trust fund, which is about $2 million less than the week prior and does not include federal benefits paid. The number of continuing unemployment claims was 104,970, which is about 5,000 claims fewer than last week. The top sectors that saw the most initial claims filed included manufacturing (1,429); those not identified by industry including the self-employed, independent contractors, etc. (981); and health care and social assistance (648). 
Important Event Updates
Your health and well-being are important to us. With that in mind, we’re making COVID-related changes to the following upcoming events:

  • Pre-employment Testing Process Seminar | Aug. 19 – The seminar is going virtual. This is great news if you haven't registered yet. The in-person event was sold out. Since it's online now, we've reopened registration so more members may attend. Get registered.

  • Executive Open | Aug. 31 – There will be a staggered–rather than shotgun–start, and the reception will no longer be held. We can't wait to see you again–socially distanced, of course. Limited spots remain.

  • Legends in Manufacturing Awards Dinner | Sept. 29 – This event has been postponed until 2021. In the meantime, keep thinking about great leaders to nominate for next year's ceremony.

  • Advanced Manufacturing Conference | Sept. 30 – The conference is going virtual. With no travel required, we anticipate a record number of attendees. Registration will open soon; watch this space for more details.

If you have questions about any of these ABI events, please contact Holly Mueggenberg.
Travel Policies, Payroll and Leave – COVID-19 Questions That Just Won’t Go Away
Jo Ellen Whitney
Davis Brown Law Firm

During the COVID-19 pandemic, questions regarding when employees may or may not travel, how to assess temperature checks at the front door and a wide array of other issues have continued to crop up. Whenever an employer feels like they’ve gotten their arms around the appropriate answers, circumstances change, with states opening and closing, infection rates spiking and politicians continually issuing new direction and orders. However, regardless of the day or the noise, some basic questions remain the same.  

What about travel?  
If your governor, mayor or other state authority has indicated that your state, county or city is “open” it can be more difficult to limit personal travel for your employees. However, basic safety and OSHA considerations necessitate that you talk with employees before they return to the workspace after personal travel.  

Reasonable inquiries about travel include:
  • Date
  • Location
  • Form of transport used (planes, trains, buses, cruise ships and other mass transit are higher risk)
  • High-risk activities (e.g., volunteer work in a nursing home with a significant number of COVID-19 cases)

Other factors to consider include a travel companion testing positive for COVID-19, staying at a resort where multiple cases have been logged or similar issues. Particular attention should also be paid to whether or not they have chosen to travel into a state with a high COVID-19 rate or, in violation of governmental authority, traveled in a “closed” state. These can be routinely checked on the CDC and Iowa websites. 

Employees with high-risk factors such as plane travel to a state which is currently closed or experiencing a significant spike should be prohibited from returning to the workspace for a minimum of 14 days and 72 hours symptom-free. Keep reading.
A New Look for MVS
McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC (MVS) is excited to introduce a fresh new look for the firm that highlights a new logo, the use of a modern and vibrant color scheme, updated firm materials and a new website. The team of specialized lawyers focuses on intellectual property and regulatory law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, litigation, licensing and technology. Read the full news release.
AT&T Contributes $10,000 to the Southwest Valley Early Childhood Association in Villisca
AT&T Iowa announced on Monday a $10,000 contribution to the Southwest Valley Early Childhood Association to support the opening of the childcare center. The contribution will be used to fund the costs of opening of the center.
AT&T call center employees advocated for these funds to be dedicated to the opening of the Southwest Valley Early Childhood Center to serve the children and families of their community. Read the full news release.