WRA meets Suzi LeVine, new ESD Employment Security Commissioner
By Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government Affairs
The Washington Retail Association management team got acquainted with newly-appointed Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine during a meeting in her Olympia office this week.
Employment Security is important to WRA on a number of fronts. Its employment resource is a free statewide network that allows retailers to list jobs and obtain hiring recommendations from Employment Security personnel.
WRA Chief Operating Officer Tammie Hetrick worked closely with ESD personnel on establishing a statewide paid family and medical leave program that takes effect in 2020. ESD also has collaborated with WRA in designing and maintaining a retail-themed website used as part of WRA’s annual Careers in Retail Month promotions in September.
Jim Szymanski, WRA’s Director of Communications and WRA contract lobbyist Bruce Beckett joined Tammie and me at the meeting. We were joined by Nick Streuli, ESD’s Legislative and Executive Operations Director and Cami Feek, Deputy ESD Commissioner.
Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Levine in May to succeed Commissioner Dale Peinecke, who left the post earlier in the year. Feek had been serving as an interim commissioner until Inslee appointed LeVine. Prior to joining ESD, LeVine served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein at the request of former President Barack Obama. Feek recently was named ESD’s Deputy Commissioner.
LeVine has been touring WorkSource offices around the state to introduce herself and identify ways the department can enhance its service to the public. WRA looks forward to building on its productive relationship with ESD and Commissioner LeVine.
WRA explains new labor laws, services to auto dealers
Two WRA employees met with members of the state Independent Auto Dealers Association in Tacoma last week to explain new labor laws and the services offered by Retail Association Services, Inc.
The dealers association is a new affiliate whose members are eligible to use WRA services including workers’ compensation claims management and safety training.
WRA Chief Executive Officer Tammie Hetrick covered the requirements of new state labor laws while Director of Business Development Terry Hopsecger reviewed WRA’s array of member services. New state legal requirements involve paid sick and safe leave, gender pay equality, domestic violence protection, sexual harassment protection and paid family and medical leave. Hetrick’s meetings included affiliates Todd Shepard, of Shepard and Shepard Business Solutions and Todd Elliott, Executive Director of the Washington State Independent Auto Dealers Association.,
The event included an auction to raise scholarship funds. Retail Association Services donated a year’s worth of workplace safety training to an auto dealers association member. Hetrick also explained that WRA is developing a special free safety app customized for auto service retailers.
About 150 auto association members attended the event at the LeMay classic car museum in downtown Tacoma.
WRA co-sponsors labor and employment seminar
WRA is co-sponsoring an Oct. 23 seminar that will cover labor law and employment policies for companies. It will be held at the Grand Hyatt Seattle from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The seminar will be conducted in cooperation with the law firm Lane Powell.
Topics to be covered include:
- Rethinking employee investigations related to complaints
- New approaches to drug testing
- How to comply with new pay equity laws
- Immigration challenges faced by employers
- The top new federal, state and local legal developments employers need to know
A full agenda and list of speakers is being assembled and will be released at a later date. Those interested in attending are urged to register early because the event sold out last year.
Click here to register. WRA members should use the passcode “WRAGuest18″ for a registration discount.
Statewide retail sales jump 10 percent in first quarter
Overall taxable retail sales jumped 10.3 percent in the first quarter of this year, reports the Department of Revenue.
A bump in construction activity and sales of lawn and garden supplies helped sales increase to $37.6 billion the first three months of the year. Retailers generated a record $155.3 billion in taxable retail sales last year. As sales increase, so do tax revenues to operate state government that derives about half its revenue from the retail industry.
Sales highlights from the first quarter included:
- An 11 percent jump in construction-related sales, to $7.4 billion
- A 13.7 percent increase in sales of lawn, garden and related equipment sales, to $186 million
- A 9.1 percent increase in sales at drug and health stores to $733 million.
Source: Department of Revenue
By Chad Pearson, Employment Security Department
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Safety tip of the week
Learn how to use a ladder safely
Every year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured by falling off ladders. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones, head injuries and in a few cases, some workers die from their injuries. These accidents occur because:
- The ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
- The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
- The worker stands on the top cap of the ladder.
- The ladder being used is not in good condition.
Another notable fact is that most of these incidents happen with a fall of less than 10 feet.
This information tells us that ladder users, whether at work or at home, are not taking appropriate safety precautions and that ladders are such a common tool, people don’t associate them with injuries. When injuries occur, often a ladder that is selected is not suitable for the task, is too short, not properly set up or is not in good condition.
You need to use the best ladder for the job that you are trying to safely accomplish. Remember total weight needs to be factored in; your weight, tools, and materials. Businesses need to use Type II or better ladders (Type III is light duty, home use only). Please review your ladder types and discuss at your next safety meeting.
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, x18 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If voters approve a carbon emissions tax this fall, it will raise consumer prices and hurt the trucking industry, a new Lens story reports.
The online news site of the Business Institute of Washington quotes truckers predicting a dual threat from Initiative 1631: higher consumer prices including for gasoline, and a financial squeeze on a trucking industry that already operates on thin profit margins. WRA opposes the initiative due to its financial burdens on families and businesses.
The Lens piece also notes that I-1631 threatens to punish an industry whose trucks run cleaner and more efficiently than models of the past.
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.