COVID-19 Special Edition
Dear Members and Partners,

MWA will be providing twice weekly Workforce Connections updates as our state, our country, and the world reacts to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We want to begin with thanking everyone in the workforce system who is working around the clock to serve customers and keep their staff safe. We are in u nprecedented times and together we will get through this.

Be well,

Tonja Mettlach
Raija Vaisanen
COVID-19 Updates 3.24.2020
State COVID-19 Policy Updates:
Executive Orders/Administrative Updates:
  • Yesterday, Governor Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24th until 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7th. You can view the full text of the order here.

  • Every day this week DUA will be holding virtual town halls. Click here to find out additional information and register. The meetings will be held:
  • Tuesday March 24, at 9:00 a.m. (Spanish)
  • Wednesday, March 25 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, March 26 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday, March 27 at 9:00 a.m.

Legislation :
  • Since last week, two pieces of COVID-19 related legislation have been enacted:
  • S.2598 (enacted on 3.18.2020) waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits to be paid to workers impacted by COVID-19. 
  • S.2608 (enacted on 3.23.2020) will allow cities and towns to postpone municipal elections and allow eligible voters to vote early by mail for any annual or special municipal or state election held before June 30, 2020.
  • In addition, the Senate passed an order delaying the special elections in Plymouth and Barnstable district and the Second Hampden and Hampshire district until May 19th and the House passed its own order delaying the special elections in the 37th Middlexsex district and the 3rd Bristol district until June 2nd.

  • The House and Senate continue to draft legislation on issues that are not covered by Executive Orders. In the days and weeks to come we could see legislation relating to enacting a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, additional unemployment reforms, a bill to bolster safety net programs, and more.

Resources for Businesses:
  • The Massachusetts Small Business Recovery Loan Fund - the state announced an additional $10M in available funding for the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund, an additional $10M from the initial announcement in mid-March. As of March 19th, the state is no longer accepting applications (will let you know if this changes) and urges businesses to apply for federal relief from the SBA. You can find out more information here.
  • The federal Small Business Administration issued a declaration of economic injury for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which makes it possible for impacted business owners to obtain low-interest loans. Click here to learn more.
  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance continues to release new information on its website. See here for the latest.
  • More on Unemployment Insurance guidance to businesses and workers can be found here
  • Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) has developed an FAQ for employers on its blog.
  • State House News has made its COVID-19 coverage free - you can view coverage here throughout the day.
MWA develops MA Business Resources Guide in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
We've developed a one page sheet of resources for businesses during this incredibly difficult time. Included are links to financial supports, unemployment assistance information, and other business association resources. We will continue to update this as we go. Please don't hesitate to contact Raija if there are resources to add.

Click here to download the PDF version.

Click here for a Word version you can customize for your MassHire region.
Federal COVID-19 Policy Updates:
  • U.S. Dept. of Labor has announced new guidance on UI flexibilities due to COVID-19 - Under this guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where: (1) An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; (2) An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and (3) An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19. Click here to read more.

  • Yesterday, the Senate tried but failed to advance a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 economic recovery package. We will provide updates as the Senate continues to negotiate this critical legislation. See here for a letter submitted by the National Association of Workforce Boards, urging additional funding and flexibility.

  • Yesterday, House Democrats introduced their own stimulus plan, which among many items, includes flexibility and significant federal funding for rapid response, the DW National Reserve, and Title I funding. We will provide additional details as we receive them.

MWA and other workforce associations from around the country are working on ideas for a national response to unemployment related to COVID-19

Click here to view the draft document and please email Tonja with any additional comments.
MWA Members in the MassHire System have been updating their websites with resources for their communities, sending out newsletters, and issuing press releases. Here are a few to check out (please share with us if we haven't listed!):

  • Join the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) for Workforce Wednesday Town Halls. These will serve as an open forum to discuss specific topics related to COVID-19 and its effects on workforce development. A portion of each town hall will be reserved to sharing answers they have for questions you have submitted, a chance to share how you have been impacted so NAWB can take your concerns to Congress, and time for subject matter experts to tackle specific issues you have raised. Next Wednesday they will focus on virtual services. Click here to join the zoom meeting or dial 1-646-558-8656, Meeting ID: 217 958 989#.

  • The National Governor's Association (NGA) has developed website with state by state listings of the actions state governments and the federal government have taken since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Click here to read more.

  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has been offering updates on consumer protections and workers' rights during the pandemic. Click here to read a WBUR interview with her and find links at the bottom to her websites.

  • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition has started a website with multilingual resources during COVID-19.

  • MA Restaurant Association has shared resources relevant to the restaurant industry.

  • Learn to Earn Grantees: Please check out CommCorp's website for updates to changes in grant deliverable timelines due to COVID-19.

  • Patricia Crosby of the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board and Kevin Lynn of the MassHire Springfield Career Center were each quoted in this MassLive article about Amazon's increased hiring and other businesses hiring during the pandemic.

  • Job Opportunity - Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) is posting for a Director of the Career Centers System for the MassHire Metro North Career Center. To learn more and apply online click here.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Holyoke Career Center is hiring a data entry specialist. To learn more and apply, click here.

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring a Sr. Program Manager for Youth Development, Salesforce Nonprofit Consultant, Employer and Community Engagement Manager and more. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Springfield Career Center is hiring a Customer Service Specialist. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunities - MassHire Metro North Workforce Board is seeking a Manager of Workforce Systems and a Youth Program Specialist. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Greater Brockton Career Center is hiring a Career Navigator to support Neighborhood Works Housing Solutions Section 8 voucher recipients develop long-term career paths. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - SkillWorks at The Boston Foundation is hiring an Executive Director. Click here to learn more and apply. The Boston Foundation has other openings, as well.

  • Good News: Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing is helping develop a medication to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. Read the article here.

  • Good News: Fall River manufacturer, Merrow Machine, is working with state and federal authorities to help produce personal protective equipment for Massachusetts medical facilities and workers to help with the shortage. Read the article here.

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