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Tell Legislature To Draw The Line On Paid Leave Regulations

Posted Friday, March 24, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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The House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports will hold a public hearing on HB 3087 at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 23. This bill is one of the top priorities of Family Forward Oregon and other advocacy groups, and they have launched a drive to recruit supporters to flood the Capitol for the hearing. We need your help to make sure that Legislators know that this is an important issue for employers, too.

Most businesses support the concept of family leave. Many already offer paid leave that can be used for extended family-related absences. But HB 3087 creates conditions that would make it costly and difficult for businesses - especially small ones - to plan and manage their operations.

Legislators need to hear how some of the requirements of HB 3087 would hurt employers and their customers. Among the more troubling aspects of HB 3087:

  • Every business in the state would be affected, even those with only one employee. Leave requirements are especially hard on small businesses, because they have fewer options for replacing workers who are off.
  • Employees would be able to request leave to provide care for a broad range of family members, including “an individual whose close association to the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” This vague wording would put employers in a difficult, legally vulnerable position.
  • The conditions under which leave can be granted are extensive, including not only parental leave, military leave and caring for a family member with a serious health issues but also any reason covered under ORS.659A.159, the statute that guarantees unpaid family leave.
  • The length of leave is generous - 12 weeks, with an additional six weeks for parental leave. Combined with the wide range of qualifying reasons, this could leave some small businesses short-staffed for much of the year.
  • Oregon employers would be required to help pay for this paid leave program, even though most similar programs in other states are funded only by employees.
  • Employers will be required to file annual reports to the Department of Revenue on employee hours worked and amounts due to the family leave fund. The time required to do this will impose additional hardship on small businesses that already are short-staffed.

Please consider writing or calling your representative. Be specific when explaining why HB 3807 is bad for your business. Emphasize that you still are adjusting your operations to account for mandatory paid sick leave, a higher minimum wage, and other new regulations.

If you don’t know your state representative, you can find him or her here.

You may also direct your comments to the House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports:

  • Representative John Lively (D-Springfield), Chair Rep.JohnLively@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative Jodi Hack (R-Salem), Vice Chair Rep.JodiHack@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative Carla Piluso (D-Gresham) Rep.CarlaPiluso@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley) Rep.JanelleBynum@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative Cedric Hayden (R-Roseburg) Rep.CedricHayden@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative John Huffman (R-The Dalles) Rep.JohnHuffman@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) Rep.AlissaKenyGuyer@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative Sheri Malstrom (D-Beaverton) Rep.SheriMalstrom@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Representative David Brock Smith (R-Gold Beach) Rep.DavidBrockSmith@oregonlegislature.gov

To view the above bill, you may go to the Oregon Legislative Information System.

If you would like more information on the bill or the work session, please contact Betsy Earls.

Betsy Earls | Vice President & CounselAssociated Oregon IndustriesP: 503.588.0050 | E: betsyearls@aoi.org 1149 Court Street NE | Salem, OR 97301-4030 | www.aoi.org

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Tips on Strengthening your Company's Cybersecurity

Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: PPI Partner ASI

In a scant few years, terms like hacker, ransomware and botnets have become as commonplace – and as unsettling – as cybercrime itself. With the World Economic Forum estimating the economic cost of cybercrime to be $3 trillion worldwide, with costs expected to double by 2021, even small companies need to double down on their efforts to protect themselves and their clients.

The increasing importance of cybersecurity prompted ASI to expand our global security program and create a new online “sheriff” – Seth Kusiak, a 16-year veteran of the promotional products industry, who was recently promoted to VP of infrastructure and security services.

Data breaches and other online security problems can arise any number of ways, from nefarious overseas hackers, computer viruses and poor security to accidental publication and lost or stolen devices. To help ASI members and their employees better understand what companies worldwide are facing in this new era of cyber defense and cybercrime, I’ve prepared a short Q&A, along with some tips on protecting your home and office computers:

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Q: What does cybersecurity mean to ASI?

A: Security’s always been integral to ASI’s information services team, but we’re strengthening our commitment to a security-focused and application-delivery platform. Our expanded focus includes implementation and oversight of an expanded global security program addressing compliance and insurance, governance, information security policies, incident response, threat modeling, risk analysis and security awareness.

Q: How have threats evolved in recent years?

A: Surprisingly, threat actors use the same techniques they used 15-20 years ago. But technologies continue to evolve and there are more internet-connected devices than ever before, from computers and mobile phones to consumer electronics like “smart” appliances, which can be easily hacked thanks to lax security. Second, the rise of Bitcoin has made it possible for criminals to get paid more reliably and with little risk. Third, threat actors from various foreign countries pursue U.S.-based victims because it’s easy money and there are few criminal consequences.

Q: How does ASI distinguish between different types of cyber-attacks?

A: Security-conscious organizations like ASI go through a process known as threat modeling to identify threats, objectives and vulnerabilities that apply to our systems, network and apps. We prioritize and define countermeasures to prevent or mitigate identified threats. As you might imagine, this is a very tedious process that’s ever-evolving and ever-changing. A threat that may be innocuous today may evolve into one that causes us to drop everything to address it. Our threats are very different than those in financial, government or healthcare.

Currently, the most prominent security threat is social engineering – the art of manipulating people to give up confidential financial, personal or company information to attackers who will use it to their own benefit.

Q: How will cyber security – and threats – evolve in the next few years?

A: To be honest, we haven’t yet hit a low point in regards to security-related incidents, as frightening as that sounds. Things will get worse before they get better (but they will get better). This year, companies throughout the world can expect more large-scale data breaches, significant increases in ransomware infections, more critical software vulnerabilities and widespread internet outages due to cyber-attacks. Looking beyond, we’ll likely see more sophisticated social engineering attacks driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We’ll also see more businesses impacted. Just recently, Verizon’s $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo was put on hold due to Yahoo’s massive data breach.

On the positive side, technology companies are starting to get it and are focusing on improving the security of their products and services. The security community is very active in pushing for better security and privacy by calling out vendors for poor security, which is having a positive impact.

Q: How can I guard against cyber threats?

A: Think before you click. Carefully review emails before responding or clicking links.Don’t reuse passwords across multiple sites or applications. When a data breach takes place, criminals attempt to use the stolen passwords to access other sites.Enable two-/multi-factor authentication on your accounts, including banks, social media and any other account that offers it.

Don’t install software from unknown sources, especially stolen/pirated software.Be careful when giving permission for apps to access your accounts. For example, by generating a “What kind of cat are you” Facebook post, you may inadvertently give those apps permission to access your profile information or even the ability to post to your accounts.Keep your software updated with security patches.

If you’re interested in more information on what’s ahead, I suggest reading a Wired magazine article on the biggest security threats facing us in 2017 – and keeping watch for emails from ASI about the cybersecurity webinar we’ll be offering in coming months.

My last piece of advice is a variation on an old newspaper adage about confirming information from sources: Even if your own mother emails you, check it out before you click it. Be vigilant and be safe.

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Five Ways to Boost Your Google Search Ranking

Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textBy: John Foley, Jr. CEO interlinkONE and Grow Socially

As we begin this new year, 2017, it’s a good time to start thinking about marketing techniques for the new year and what has worked so far since last year and what we can improve on going forward this year. So, let’s start by taking a look at how we can improve search engine optimization moving forward. With the Internet being such a prominent part of your company’s marketing efforts, having strong SEO is crucial to marketing and developing new business. Below are five tips that will help boost your business’s SEO and improve your search ranking on Google.

Optimizing Keywords

Having a well-optimized site is important, especially if you are looking to improve your search ranking results. From improving the quality of visitors to having higher conversion rates, optimizing your site is necessary if you want to close more sales. When optimizing keywords, be sure to include them on your site. Titles, descriptions, headings, content, image file names, and URLS are all important to have optimized. Be sure to avoid forcing keywords where they don’t belong or stuffing them into titles or URLS, because it will only lead your customer into believing it is spam.

Adding Search Engine Optimized Content for Keywords

In order to optimize content for keywords, you have to select the right keyword and use it throughout your content. Don’t force the word into unnecessary places; carefully choose where and when it should be added. Once you develop content, link it to other pages that are related to the topic. By doing this, you will receive great results and show search engines know that you have authority in that specific topic. Content that can be optimized includes blog posts, e-Articles, website page copy, or even social media posts that are integrated with your site.

Setting Up and Optimizing Social Properties

Set up your social media for optimizing, and get it ready for your specific audience. By linking your social media pages together, they will co-exist and provide better responses to your content. Whether it’s your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page, have customized information that supports your business, and include images that will maximize your social media engagement.

Back Linking and Posting Articles to High Quality Websites

When back linking in articles, make sure your links are high quality and relevant, avoiding any spam or untrustworthy sources. Avoid simple and cliché tags like “Click Here” or “Read More,” and instead try to optimize your text with keyword content that has a purpose. Search engines want to make sure you have a strong variety of domains, so if all your back links are coming from only one source, it shows that your website may not be relevant. Developing a back linking strategy and involving relevant and trustworthy third party sites is one of the best ways to boost your own site’s ranking with Google.

Analyzing Your Website

Analyzing and tracking your data is necessary to having a successful and structured website. By analyzing your website, you will be able to see exactly which keywords search engines are seeing from your site, breakdown any errors, check for broken links, and track all site traffic. By doing this, you are able to get a sense of what really is going on with your website, and catch any mistakes that could happen.

By following these five tips, you are taking the necessary steps to make improvements towards your company’s SEO and search ranking with Google. Optimizing your website does take time, but with dedication, it will ultimately be worth it for the overall success of your business. Does your organization need help implementing any of these strategies? Contact me at JohnF@GrowSocially.com—I’d love the chance to help you improve your business’s Google ranking!

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Guest Lecturers Needed for USPTO Patent Examiner Technical Training Program

Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textSource: United States Patent Office

In accordance with a White House executive action call to strengthen our patent system and foster innovation, the USPTO is expanding its Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP). The USPTO is requesting voluntary assistance from technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia to participate as guest lecturers and provide technical training and expertise to patent examiners regarding the state of the art.

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On May 31st, USPTO is hosting a technology fair in the areas of semiconductors/memories, optics, circuits, and printing/measuring/testing. We’re requesting voluntary assistance from technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia to participate in-person at our Alexandria, VA, headquarters or virtually as guest lecturers to provide technical training and expertise.

Guest lecturers will have relevant, historic and current technical knowledge, including industry practices/standards in technological areas of interest. Guest lecturers must also have relevant technical knowledge, as well as familiarity with prior art and industry practices/standards in areas of technologies where such lectures would be beneficial.

Guest lecturers have the option of presenting a lecture in-person or virtually from their own location. In-person presentations can be made at our Alexandria, Virginia headquarters.

If Interested Contact:

Melissa C. Davis

United States Patent and Trademark Office

571.272.2776

melissa.davis@uspto.gov

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PIA Applauds Passage of the Postal Service Reform Act

Posted Friday, March 17, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textSource: PIA Warrendale, Pennsylvania, March 17, 2017—Printing Industries of America (PIA) and its member companies today applaud the passage of H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act, by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The legislation, which would bring desperately needed financial modernization to the United States Postal Service (USPS) was sponsored by Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and was reported favorably out of committee by a bipartisan voice vote.

“PIA commends the hard work of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and congratulates lawmakers on achieving the first step toward meaningful postal reform in the 115th Congress,” said Michael Makin, PIA President and CEO. “PIA member companies are in constant innovation mode to offer new techniques that make the mail more relevant to consumers. A viable USPS offering affordable, predictable rates is a critical delivery partner for print. H.R. 756—a true bipartisan compromise supported by industry, labor, and USPS—would provide necessary stability for USPS.”

“Equally as important, H.R. 756 addresses and corrects unrealistic financial burdens placed on USPS—ultimately protecting taxpayers from a potential government bailout of the mail system.”

“PIA now looks to the full U.S. House of Representatives to urgently pass this much needed postal reform and modernization legislation.”

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