Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 03, 2020 Likes Comments

'A true headache for HR professionals'

“A true headache for HR professionals.”

That’s how, Johnny Taylor Jr., president of the Society for Human Resource Management, described to NPR a new pending dilemma for employers:
Whether or not to make it mandatory to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts say an employer can make a vaccination a workplace requirement, but there are religious and disability exemptions. (National Law Review article here.)
But Taylor wants Congress and state legislatures to enact greater protections for employers.
"The employer is truly in a no-win situation from a risk standpoint," Taylor told NPR.
Those who decide to mandate the vaccine will need protection against someone having an adverse reaction, even if the employee has signed a waiver upon receiving the shot, he says. But companies that decide against a mandate will need protection if someone does contract the virus in the workplace and sues.
COVID-19 vaccines will likely begin arriving in Massachusetts by mid-December but it won’t likely be until the spring when most members of the public will have access to immunizations.
What will CRE look like when we do get those vaccines?
Can you relate to this writer in Philadelphia who says she's become a little too familiar with the spiders in her kitchen and wondering when we'll get back to the office?
Then you'll want to join me this morning at 11 when we take a look just how arrival of vaccines might impact the commercial real estate market in the second half of 2021.
Our all-star panel -- James Elcock from Colliers, Bill McQuillan from Boylston Properties and Gable Clarke at SGA -- will share their insights with moderator Catherine Carlock from the BBJ.

Our Regional Real Estate Forum will also take a look back at 2020, the unexpected bright spots and how they creatively overcame challenges.
SBA lifts the PPP curtain
Interested in knowing how much your competitors or fellow nonprofits received from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program? Or perhaps which banks lent the most locally?
Late Tuesday the SBA released the names, amounts, addresses, lenders and jobs covered, for the relief program's roughly 5.2 million loans.
The data has been keeping business journalists and watchdog groups busy, just as Congress seems to be inching towards a possible (fingers crosses) stimulus package (or maybe not) that might include a new PPP or similar program.
But you can also explore the data by yourself: The Globe has a searchable list of Massachusetts PPP recipients here. This Business Journal article allows you to search by state. And the Washington Post offers searchable localized maps.
Here’s a few headlines:
  • NBC news says more than 25 PPP loans -- worth more than $3.65 million -- were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties. Fifteen of the properties self-reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all.
Last chance to weigh in on MBTA
Tomorrow (Friday) is the deadline to submit feedback to the MBTA about a drastic menu of proposed service cuts. The T's decision is expected Monday.
The deadline approaches as a new MassINC poll shows that nearly two-thirds (64%) of residents statewide oppose the cuts and (66%) would rather the State Legislature give the transit agency more funding to close its budget gap.
Does the Phantom Gourmet get an encore?
For years they were the unabashed, unapologetic, champions of Greater Boston’s suburban comfort food. So what happened to the Phantom Gourmet?
Boston Magazine takes a fascinating look at Dan and Dave Andelman's rise and fall (including that tone deaf response to the murder of George Floyd) and attempted resurrection.
Employers cheer ruling against Trump visa rule
A federal judge has struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of H-1B visas issued each year. (AP story here.)
H-1B visas are typically issued for jobs in technology, engineering and medicine and similar sectors.
Up to 85,000 visas are issued annually. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.
The U.S. Chamber (no relation to our chamber), which along with several universities has filed the lawsuit, said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having “the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”
Today’s three need to knows
  • Lawyers Clearing House is offering a free virtual presentation “Reopening: What Nonprofits Should Consider” next Weds. (Dec. 9) at 2 p.m. Topics include Paid Family Medical Leave and other considerations. Register.
  • A reminder that if you have an employee who tests positive for COVID, you are required to report this to and cooperate with your local board of health. The Department of Public Health has created information and guidance for persons in quarantine or isolation.
Business interruption rules infuriate policy holders
Imagine spending years faithfully paying for a business interruption insurance policy only to find out when your business is interrupted that you're not protected.
That’s exactly what happened to countless business owners who were stunned this spring to discover that most policies include a virus-exclusion clause.
Many insurers added virus waivers to policies over the past decade following the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Even policy holders who didn’t have a virus exclusion were told by many insurers that a government mandated COVID shut down wasn’t a covered event. It did not cause physical damage as would a tornado or flood.
Judges have dismissed more than four times as many business-interruption lawsuits as they’ve allowed to proceed, Bloomberg reports. But “some plaintiffs are finding weak spots in the industry’s legal defenses.”
Want to dig deeper? The UPenn Law School has created this COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker.
'Pay It Forward' off to a strong first day
Finally, thanks to everyone who stepped up yesterday in support of our Pay It Forward campaign; including Stacy Madison of the just closed Stacy’s Juicebar, who made an incredibly generous donation by dedicating presale proceeds from her new cookbook to support our local restaurants.
This campaign seeks to address two challenges:
First, it's budget time at your chamber and, frankly, we're nervous about how we will be able to fund our advocacy and programming if a large portion of our members can't afford their 2021 chamber dues and we still can't hold any, or many, events.
Second, we want to make sure our small retailers, independent restaurants and nonprofits can continue to have access to the networking, programing, marketing and connectivity that comes with chamber membership.
So we’re asking those who can afford it, to donate to a grant pool to help local businesses and nonprofits retain their status as chamber members in 2021.
  • Here’s how the program will work: At-risk small businesses will be able to apply for a confidential 50/50 matching grant for their 2021 chamber dues starting in January. A committee consisting of current engaged members will review the applications to determine viable, in-need candidates.
  • And here’s what your donation would cover: More than two-thirds of our 900 members pay between $295 and $345 for dues (our lowest tiers), with an average dues of about $330. So your donation of $165 would cover half of one nonprofit’s or a small business member's average dues.
If you’re in a position to contribute financially to help us -- and help our businesses and nonprofits at the same time -- PLEASE DONATE HERE. Thanks!
Email or call if you have questions.
Be back tomorrow. As Sgt. Esterhaus used to say, “Let’s be careful out there.”
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously


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