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WIN Articles for August 16, 2017

Soda Tax Not a Good Idea

By Jan Teague, President/CEO 

This week the Wall Street Journal reported that the Philadelphia soda tax was hurting low income workers and not producing the money they had expected.  According to Daniel Grace, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 830, estimates are that sales have dropped by as much as 45%. Since his truck drivers are paid based on soda deliveries, the drivers have lost half of their income.  Gas stations are selling less gas and supermarkets are struggling to make up their lost sales.  Employee hours are being cut to make up the difference.  Pepsi announced it would have to lay off 20% of its local workers.

I call this the unintended consequences.  Seattle  just passed a big soda tax.  It hasn’t had time to show the results like in Philadelphia, but I am sure we will see similar impacts.  Whenever you raise costs, something has to give. This Philadelphia experience should be used as a model to show the damage such ideas have on local people.


No capital budget is bad for retailers

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs

After a record setting 176 days in Session the legislature adjourned this year without passing a Capital Budget.  The Capital Budget is the state’s “bricks and mortar” building plan.  It includes anything from school construction and remodeling, parks, ball fields, museums, libraries, and such. The capital budget excludes transportation, which is covered under the Transportation Budget that the Legislature approved.

The proposed Capital Budget totaled more than $4 billion dollars.

Retailers consider a capital budget important because the construction workers who would be paid to do the work would spend their money in our stores.  It is troubling that $4 billion is not being circulated throughout the state economy.

The Legislature failed to adopt a capital budget because of a court decision called Hirst, which says private water well owners can’t use them. In essence, this makes the property of these well owners worthless for development purposes.  The Republicans and many Democrats wanted to address Hirst to ensure property owners would not be left high and dry.  A number of Democrats said no.  So the Republicans said no Hirst fix,  no Capital Budget.

Despite adjournment in June, there are still talks going on so there is some hope that the legislature may return yet again for another special session to approve both a Hirst fix and a Capital Budget.  I encourage both sides to come to an agreement for the sake of all the building projects and the economic activity it will mean to retailers and other businesses.


There now are three lawsuits challenging Seattle’s income tax

The three groups once expected to sue Seattle for adopting an income tax now have filed their actions in court.

The Olympia-based Freedom Foundation and the “Opportunity for All Coalition” followed the initial legal action of litigant Michael Kunath.

The coalition’s litigant, former state Attorney General Rob McKenna, argues in his action that the state constitution prohibits an income tax.  He further notes that voters have turned down nine earlier attempts to enact an income tax and that Seattle’s economy is booming, making it unnecessary for the city to seek an income tax to raise more revenue.,

Read more about this issue here.

Source: Washington Policy Center


Secure Scheduling Ordinance Update and New Resources

Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has begun their investigations on Secure Scheduling to be sure companies are in compliance.  WRA recently worked with the City of Seattle to provide a webinar for members.  OLS is now offering updates to the previous presentations and will have additional details on some of the questions employers had on the compliance side.

Please see OLS schedule for webinars and links to the Secure Scheduling site for additional details below.


If you have any questions, please contact Tammie Hetrick, Senior Vice President of Retail Services at tammie@retailassociation.org


Sen. Shelton reflects on the shortcomings of the Growth Management Actlens

Washington State has lived with the Growth Management Act since the Legislature adopted it in 1990.

Tim Sheldon, the only state legislator still serving in Olympia since GMA became law, recently reflected on the ill effects of the law in the years since it went into effect. He thinks the law must be changed to reverse the unintended results of GMA: booming urban growth in a few counties at the expense of struggling and stagnant rural counties across most of the state.

The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, produced a short video in which Sen. Shelton explained why he believes GMA must be revisited to promote economic development in rural Washington State. Click here to watch the video.


L&I holds hearings on sick and safe leave policy

Labor & Industries has two remaining public hearings to discuss the state’s upcoming paid sick leave policy taking effect in January 2018.

A draft of rules for the policy is available here. The link includes another to be placed on a mailing list for updates in development of the policy.

Hearing dates:

  • August 17, 2017, 10:00 a.m. Columbia Basin Community College L102, Building L 2600 North 20th Ave Pasco, WA 99301
  • August 29, 2017, 10:00 a.m. Xfinity Center, Edward D Hansen Conference Center Ballroom 3 South 2000 Hewitt Avenue, Suite 200 Everett, WA 98201

WRA members with questions or comments may contact Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services, at 360-200-6452 or tammie@retailassociation.org.


Employment Security Department





Contact:    Paul Turek, labor economist, 360-407-2306

Bill Tarrow, deputy communications director, 360-902-9376


Record low unemployment continues in Washington

OLYMPIA – Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate clocked in at 4.5 percent for the third consecutive month in July, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“The good economic news continues in Washington,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Unemployment is at a record low and Washington businesses continue to add jobs. Plus, newly released data shows early-year hiring was much stronger than originally thought.”

Washington employers added 1,600 nonfarm jobs in July. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its July Monthly Employment Report.

In July last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.5 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 4.3 percent this July and 3.5 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 49,868 people in July.

 Labor force continues to grow in Washington

The state’s labor force rose to 3.7 million in July – an increase of 13,100 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 3,700 over the same period.

From July 2016 through July 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 60,500 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 13,600.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Eight sectors expand, five contract   

Private sector employment decreased by 3,700 and government employment increased by 5,300 jobs in July.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government up 5,300, education and health services up 2,000. Other sectors adding jobs were retail trade up 700, wholesale trade up 600, information and financial services both up 100.

Leisure and hospitality and other services faced the biggest reduction in July, losing 2,600 and 1,600 jobs respectively. Additionally, construction cut 1,300, manufacturing eliminated 1,000, transportation, warehousing and utilities trimmed 400 and professional and business services cut 300. Mining and logging was unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 85,200 new jobs from July 2016 through July 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.5 percent or 67,900 jobs, and the public sector increased by 3.1 percent, adding 17,300 jobs.

From July 2016 through July 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-5,900) and logging (-200) were the only sectors to report job losses.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

  • Government with 17,300 new jobs;
  • Construction with 12,400 new jobs; and
  • Education and health services with 11,500 new jobs.

Check it out! ESD has new labor market information and tools, including a video tutorial, to highlight popular information and data.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” or U-6 rate, for states to include the second quarter of 2017. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official U-3 unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The U-6 rate for Washington through the second quarter 2017 was 9.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.2 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.


WRA co-sponsors Oct. 17 employer seminar

WRA members to get special discount

Employers will be able to learn the latest insights into employment law by attending Lane Powell’s annual “Best Practices for Employers” seminar on October 17 of this year. WRA members are eligible for a discounted registration fee.

The event will be held at Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 6th Avenue in downtown.

The event geared toward managers, human resources professionals and corporate counsel includes the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Washington Bankers Association and the Greater Seattle Business Association as co-sponsors.

Click here to register.


Seattle produces new webinars to explain scheduling law

Seattle city officials have produced three new webinars to help explain the complexities of its new retail scheduling law that took effect on July 1.

Inspectors of the Office of Labor Standards have begun contacting affected Seattle retailers to check compliance with the law. It requires posting work schedules two weeks in advance, requires offering extra hours to existing employees and keeping records of schedule changes for three years.

WRA encourages Seattle retailers to sign up for the webinars to be better prepared for city investigators.

The webinar schedule:

  • NEW Webinar Monday, August 28, 2017, 2:00-3:30 pm PST
    1.5 CLE credits confirmed (Click here to register by 10:00 am, August 28)
  • NEW Webinar Thursday, September 14, 2017, 10:00-11:30 am PST
    1.5 CLE credits pending
    (Click here to register by 5:00 pm, September 13)

NEW Webinar Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 2:00-3:30 pm PST
1.5 CLE credits pending
(Click here to register by 10:00 am, September 20)


Target stores to support soccer, build facilitiesCourt

Target stores have announced a four-year commitment to financially support youth soccer programs and to build 100 soccer play spaces.

The $14 million commitment will focus on in-need communities across the nation.

Target will accept applications through Aug. 30 for grants up to $1,000 to schools, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to assist youth soccer programs with registration fees, field equipment and professional development for volunteer coaches. The first round of grants will be awarded in November.

Target also is teaming with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to build 100 soccer play spaces across the country. The goal is to transform “play deserts” in under served neighborhoods.


Safety tip of the week:

L&I’s top 10 rule violations

 The table below shows the most common safety and health rule violations cited during Labor & Industries’ inspections for federal fiscal year 2016 (Oct.1, 2015 – Sept. 30, 2016). This information can help strengthen your workplace safety program and prevent costly injuries and illnesses.

The list excludes construction and agriculture. The links provide further information about what is required in the topic area.


Topic Area Resources
Employer Chemical Hazard Communication Hazard Communication and GHS
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Personal Protective Equipment
Safety Committees and Safety Meetings Safety Meetings/Committees
Accident Prevention Program Accident Prevention Program (APP)
Basic Electrical Rules Electrical Hazards
First-Aid First Aid
Asbestos, Tremolite, Anthophyllite, and Actinolite Asbestos
Portable Fire Extinguishers Fire Extinguishers
Confined Space Permit Entry Confined Space
Injury & Illness Record keeping Requirements Recordkeeping & Reporting Worker Injuries


WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.


Save the date for a free business fair

 Anyone interested in learning how to start and run a business should consider attended a free business fair set for September 30 at Renton Technical College.

WRA has been a regular attendee at the fair, now in its 20th year.

The fair is a collection of helpful seminars and information booths to help entrepreneurs learn how to start and grow a business while remaining mindful of the potential pitfalls and regulatory requirements to operate legally and successfully. 

Visit www.bizfair.org for more information or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/bizfair.


WRA diversity statement

It’s essential to have a holistic strategic plan for diversity and inclusion.  We encourage everyone to consider having a plan that connects with diverse people, creates a diverse workforce, fosters an inclusive work environment where different perspectives are valued, partners to share time, talent, and resources with our staff and with communities, and communicates these values with others.

In principle and in practice, we value access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level.  The association strives to accomplish this by serving as a model where we are working to help our staff, our volunteer leaders, our members, and our community embrace these principles.

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