Business groups from three western coastal states want to be involved in strategies to end the lockdown and open up the economy. From a California perspective, at least, it’s possible that the business coalition was formed because of fear that business concerns would be ignored  by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Alarms were reported in a number of places (here and here) that leadership of the Task Force will take it in a less than business friendly direction.

Piggybacking on the announcement of two weeks ago that the governors of California, Oregon and Washington planned to work together to open up their economies, two business organizations from each of those states joined together to inform the governors that they want to be part of the solution. 

Yesterday, the governors of Nevada and Colorado announced they would join the Western States Pact. Discussions with business groups in those states to join the business coalition are on-going. 

Governor Newsom promises to discuss at his press briefing today progressive steps toward ending the lock down and opening businesses. 

The business organizations that joined together have their own set of criteria they want the government officials to consider as they plan for the reopening of the economy. Rob Lapsley, President, California Business Roundtable and Lance Hastings, President, California Manufacturers & Technology Association signed a letter to the three state governors along with the heads of the Association of Washington Business, Washington Roundtable, Oregon Business & Industry and the Oregon Business Council. 

Not surprising, a high priority for the business leaders is the sooner-than-later revival of the economy. While acknowledging that the top issue is the heath and safety of workers and the populace, the business leaders want a sharp focus on setting standards to get the economy up and running. They are concerned that emphasis on issues such as workers’ compensation and liabilities for businesses will slow the business recovery. The business leaders want the governors to understand these issues from their viewpoint.

While no timelines have been set for the California Task Force to put forth recommendations, the business leaders in their letter expressed an urgency for governments to set the standards businesses will have to follow to open up so that the business community can get ready as a way to speed up business openings.

In addition, businesses will need to now how to handle the “new normal” of health screening for employees. As the business leaders wrote to the governors, “businesses are likely to be asked to screen employee health and then potentially take actions based on the results of the screening. We know testing must be a crucial element of a successful framework and we would like to work with you on how that will be part of the return-to-work strategy.” There is also the question of performing these tests within the privacy laws of the states and to consider liability questions involved with such testing.

Developing different opening strategies for various businesses and regions of each state, setting up retraining programs for workers who will permanently lose their jobs, and working out additional support for industries hit harder than others like restaurants and hotels are other priorities of the business groups. 

For the economy to rebound, all businesses are essential. The business leaders created the Western States Business Pact to be certain that the voice of industry and job creators is heard when strategies are formulated to get back to business without delay.