The U.S. Energy Department has awarded nearly $1 million to Vancouver-based nLight Photonics as part of a nationwide $102 million grant program intended to help companies continue development of technologies that have a strong potential for commercialization and job creation. The grants are being given to 104 small businesses nationwide, including five in Washington.The company, which designs and manufactures high-power semiconductor lasers for commercial use, received funding for continued work on new designs “to significantly improve price, power, efficiency, and reliability as an essential step towards making fusion energy a practical reality,” according to the Energy Department.All of the grants are funded through the department’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. They are for Phase II work on projects now in the conceptual stage, with the funds available over two years.Other Washington companies receiving funding, all in the $1 million range, are Power Info LLC, of Bothell; Hummingbird Precision Machine Co., of Lacey; Vista Clara Inc., of Mukilteo; and Eagle Harbor Technologies Inc., of Seattle.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — As the chants of angry protesters filled the Capitol, Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to right-to-work legislation, dealing a devastating and once-unthinkable defeat to organized labor in a state that has been a cradle of the movement for generations. The Republican-dominated House ignored Democrats’ pleas to delay the passage and instead approved two bills with the same ruthless efficiency that the Senate showed last week. One measure dealt with private sector workers, the other with government employees. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them both within hours.“This is about freedom, fairness and equality,” House Speaker Jase Bolger said during floor debate. “These are basic American rights — rights that should unite us.”After the vote, he said, Michigan’s future “has never been brighter, because workers are free.”Once the laws are enacted, the state where the United Auto Workers was founded and labor has long been a political titan will join 23 others with right-to-work laws, which ban requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.Supporters say the laws give workers more choice and support economic growth, but critics insist the real intent is to weaken organized labor by encouraging workers to “freeload” by withholding money unions need to bargain effectively.
Anybody do anything stupid yet today?Cue my critics who might say something like, “Yeah, I read your column and now I’m trying to figure out how to get that six minutes back.”Hey, don’t do stupid stuff. Whatever that might be.OK, OK, that’s a lead-in to our wildly fun Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mugs.Speaking of fun, I had a ton of it a few months ago when I opened up The Columbian on a Saturday to sell a few of the $10 mugs.Lots of folks apparently can’t make it here during the week, so — what the heck — I decided to do it again today.I’ll be here from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 701 W. Eighth St., a couple of blocks from Esther Short Park. Cash only today.So come on by. I’d love to say hi. Now, a few of you reading this might be saying, “What the heck is the editor doing, dealing with these mugs?” Am I stupid or what?Well, I would respectfully ask, why shouldn’t I be doing this? For me, it’s less about the mugs and more about the community involvement the mugs have created.
PORT ALICE, British Columbia (AP) — A magnitude 6.6 quake was recorded Wednesday night in the Pacific Ocean off the northwest corner of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center said.There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. There was no danger of a tsunami, according to the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.The quake hit at 8:10 p.m. local time and was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Port Alice, British Columbia, and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) northwest of Seattle, Washington. It occurred at a depth of 7 miles (11.4 kilometers).It was followed by aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 and 4.2, the USGS said.Port Hardy resident Jennifer Nickerson said the quake caused lights to sway and the fish tank in the hotel where she works to rock.In less than two hours, more than 650 people in nearly three dozen cities logged on to the earthquake information site to report feeling the quake.
Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has been granted an extension to the completion date for its Saipan IR until 28 February 2021.The company announced overnight that it had entered into a written amendment to the Casino License Agreement with Saipan’s Casino Control Commission allowing for a change to the implementation schedule after requesting an extension last week.It was revealed in July that IPI would miss its 31 August 2018 completion deadline, with the company stating the delay was due primarily to “the drastic reduction and non-availability of sufficient skilled and qualified construction laborers locally in Saipan and mainland USA.”Under the new agreement, IPI must complete all construction of Imperial Pacific Resort by 28 February 28, including the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy Permit by the CNMI Department of Public Works.The company will also be required to submit to the Lottery Commission within 15 days from the signing of the agreement last Friday a Construction Milestone Schedule including a list of pending tasks and projected completion dates, with detailed quarterly reports on progress and a biannual audit certified by its external auditor.Any further delays will result in fines of US$5,000 a day.IPI added that, in consideration of the extension of the implementation schedule, it will make a donation of US$500,000 to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation for the purchase of medical equipment.Originally scheduled for completion in 2016, it was only 13 months ago that IPI was granted a previous extension to the Casino License Agreement to complete construction of its initial gaming facility by 31 August 2018.When complete, it will feature a 329-room luxury hotel; 14,140 square meters of gaming area; 3,870 square meters of food and beverage outlets; 186 square meters of retail space; 930 square meters of meeting space; 15 villas; and a 1,500 square meter spa and fitness area with associated infrastructure. Imperial Pacific pays remaining US$10.5 million balance on annual license fee Load More Calls for 10% gaming tax renewed as report reveals Imperial Pacific tax payments of just US$21,000 in 2019 RelatedPosts Imperial Pacific adds to Board of Directors as regulator looks to impose US$375,000 fine for late license fee payment
Load More Empire Resorts to delist from NASDAQ as Genting-linked firms given green light for takeover Genting Malaysia enjoys improved 2Q19 showing on better luck at Resorts World Genting The financial concerns follow a recent announcement by Genting Malaysia that it has entered into a binding term sheet with Kien Huat Realty III Ltd, the family trust of its Chairman Lim Kok Thay, for the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Genting (USA) Ltd to acquire 13.2 million shares in Empire Resorts, equivalent to a 35% stake.In turn, Kien Huat, which currently holds an 86% stake in Empire, has issued an unsolicited proposal to acquire all remaining Empire shares after which a new operating entity would be formed of which 51% would be owned by Kien Huat and 49% by Genting (USA) Ltd.Responding to a clarification request from Bursa Malaysia on Thursday, Genting Malaysia said, “We believe that, with immediate improvements to Empire’s operations following an expeditious consummation of the Proposed Merger, Empire’s present liquidity challenges can be met.“Empire [has] identified multiple options to address its current liquidity challenges, including seeking arrangements to provide additional liquidity, making reductions to its cost structure, restructuring of its and its subsidiaries’ existing debt terms and pursuing the joint non-binding proposal submitted by Genting Malaysia and Kien Huat.“Genting Malaysia strongly believes that the Proposal is the best alternative available to Empire’s stockholders and that the Proposal is also in the best interests of Genting Malaysia’s shareholders.”Genting Malaysia also provided further detail on its plans for Resorts World Catskills should it take full ownership, noting that its current New York property, Resorts World New York, is “the best performing asset in the said market and one of the highest grossing slot operations in the world.”“Resorts World New York, under Genting Malaysia’s leadership and management, has demonstrated a successful track record in New York both in terms of development and operations,” it said. “Genting Malaysia, because of its established management in New York, is in a unique position to take advantage of synergies between its existing operations at Resorts World New York and Resorts World Catskills.”Empire Resorts reported losses of US$138.7 million in 2018 and US$73.7 million for the six months to 30 June 2019. RelatedPosts Genting Malaysia has stated confidence that it can address any liquidity challenges at Empire Resorts following reports that the US-based casino operator is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.It has been alleged this week that Empire Resorts, which owns and operates New York’s Resorts World Catskills and harness horseracing facility Monticello Raceway, will file for bankruptcy if it can’t produce fresh capital or a restructuring of more than US$400 million in debt. Genting Malaysia shares plummet almost 12% following news of Empire Resorts acquisition plan
The government has launched a consultation to public sector organisations on gender pay gap reporting in the public sector.The consultation, which began on 18 August 2016 and will close on 30 September 2016, sets out how the government intends to bring in the reporting requirements for public sector organisations; how the reporting requirements will work in the public sector; and poses a number of questions on the proposed approach.The government is seeking to amend the Specific Duties Regulations that are followed by public bodies to include mandatory gender pay gap reporting for public bodies with more than 250 employees.The existing Specific Duties Regulations, a section of the 2010 Equality Act which came into force in 2011, already requires public bodies with 150 or more employees to publish information relating to staff.These organisations are encouraged to include gender pay gap data in the information they publish. The government intends to keep this reporting requirement in place so that those bodies with 150 employees or more will still have to report on their workforce diversity and consider whether to include data on gender pay differentials in the information they publish.The suggested changes to the Specific Duties Regulations for public bodies in England with more than 250 employees will follow the same guidelines that apply to private and voluntary organisations. This will mean they will be required to publish data on their mean and median gender pay gap, mean and median bonus gap and information about the proportions of male and female employees in each salary quartile.The government intends for the amended public sector regulations to be introduced by the end of 2016 so that public bodies can use the timeline already in place for gender pay gap reporting, which expects the first round of data to be captured in April 2017 and published before April 2018.Justine Greening MP, secretary of state for education and minister for women and equalities, said: “The government believes it is only right that public sector employers should lead the way in promoting gender equality in the workforce.“Although the pay gap across the public sector as a whole is 18.5% compared to 25.3% in the private sector, this is clearly still too high and we need further concerted efforts to identify and tackle the causes of any gender pay differences.“The new regulations will mean better transparency for 3.8 million employees who work in public sector organisations in England with 250 employees or more.”
Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents believe that organisations invest in expensive benefits that employees neither want, need or use, according to research by Michael Page.Its survey of 1,000 UK adults aged 18 or over who have moved into or applied for a new job in the past three years, also found that 82% of respondents think organisations over complicate employee benefits by making them difficult to use or to understand.The research also found:71% of respondents cite flexible working as their most-wanted benefit, followed by home-working arrangements (55%), unlimited paid holiday (46%), a company car or subsidised or free travel (43%), and free weekly lunches (41%).70% of respondents view unusual benefits, such as free massages, as a gimmick.52% of respondents did not have an opportunity to negotiate the benefits package on offer last time they were interviewed for a job.37% of respondents did not know what their benefits package included before they took their current job, and 65% have been surprised to find out about a particular benefit after working in a role for some time.73% of respondents factor benefits into their decision whether to turn down a job.Oliver Watson (pictured), executive board director for UK and North America at Pagegroup, said: “While we may be accustomed to negotiating a starting salary, discussing more tailored benefits is rarely given the same priority, resulting in neither party getting an agreement that drives engagement for an employee and performance for an employer.“As working cultures become more flexible and dynamic, a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits no longer applies. With only [20% of] UK consumers completely satisfied with their current benefits package and 85% saying a flexible benefits package would make a job more desirable to them, employers need to relax their typically fixed policies and start an open conversation about benefits far earlier in the recruitment process.”
The Environment Agency has been named as the number one employer for workplace mental wellbeing in the Workplace wellbeing index awards 2017-2018, compiled by mental health charity Mind.The awards, now in their second year, celebrate and recognise employers who are promoting and supporting positive mental health in the workplace, as well as act to benchmark best policies and practices. Organisations that enter the awards are ranked based on a series of assessments, for example a staff survey, with employers categorised as gold, silver or bronze.Gold employers are those which have successfully embedded mental health into their policies and practices, demonstrating a long-term and in-depth commitment to staff mental health.For 2017-2018, 75 organisations participated in the Workplace wellbeing index awards. Organisations that achieved gold status include charity CancerCare, Companies House, Dr Challoner’s Grammer School, Historic England, financial institution Intertrust Guernsey, Jacobs Engineering Group, LSI Architects and RBC Wealth Management.This is the second consecutive year that The Environment Agency has topped the list of gold-ranked employers. In particular, it was recognised for its employee network around mental health, its awareness raising activities and for training staff and line managers to spot the symptoms of mental health conditions and signpost where individuals can find support.The awards ceremony took place on Tuesday 17 April 2018 at BMA House, London and was hosted by writer, communicator and strategist Alastair Campbell, who is best known for his role as the Labour party’s press secretary and director of communications and strategy.A number of individual awards were also presented, including the Champion award, the Line manager award, the Wellbeing lead award and the Senior leader award.James Bevan, chief executive officer at The Environment Agency, said: “I’m delighted that the Environment Agency has won this award. A healthy workforce means a more productive workforce. And an inclusive culture makes work more life-enhancing.“The fact that we’re number one in the index again shows just how much work is going on across the Environment Agency to ensure all of us feel free to talk openly about mental health issues and know where to get help and support if we need it. Our staff-led mental health network is doing a tremendous job, backed up by tools and information provided through our wellbeing team. I’m proud of the real difference this is making.”Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, added: “We want to congratulate the Environment Agency for topping the board at this year’s Workplace Wellbeing Index awards, for the second year running. The Environment Agency has once again demonstrated that it is at the forefront of creating mentally healthy workplaces, which involves tackling stress and supporting the mental wellbeing of the entire workforce, including employees that might be struggling with their mental health.“This year, we’ve been overwhelmed to see so much good practice right across the board, from each and every one of the diverse employers that took part. The awards event provided an opportunity to recognise forward-thinking employers like the Environment Agency, who are at the cutting edge when it comes to investing in their staff wellbeing, and, in turn, getting the best outcomes for their business.”
Employees at refuse collection, street cleaning and recycling organisation Bristol Waste, who are members of the trade union Unite, have voted to accept a two-year pay deal.The agreed package, which will be backdated to November 2018, equates to a 6.2% pay increase over a two-year period. This means that the average Bristol Waste employee will receive a pay rise of around £1,400.The pay deal is the result of a campaign maintained by union activists between August 2018 and January 2019; the action sought to improve Bristol Waste’s original offer of a 3.5% pay increase over two years. Unite states that this original deal was rejected by its members because it fell below the rate of inflation.According to Unite, the original pay proposal was accompanied by employer-funded theatre tickets for staff to see Cinderella at the Bristol Hippodrome. The trade union believes this was to encourage employees to accept the initial deal.Bristol Waste, which employs 600 staff, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bristol City Council. Unite has the largest trade union representation at the organisation.Ken Fish, regional officer at Unite, said: “A sustained campaign by [employees] turned a pantomime drama into a pay victory. The organising campaign at Bristol Waste helped [employees] secure an inflation beating pay increase worth around £1,400, almost double the [organisation’s] original pay offer.“The deal shows that when [employees] get organised, they can win in the workplace.”Bristol Waste was unavailable for comment at time of publication.