(360) 943-9198 info@retailassociation.org

WIN Articles for August 23, 2017

WRA hires new President/CEO

By Jan Teague, President/CEO

I am excited to announce that the new leader of the association has been picked.  It is Renee Sunde, who is the Economic Development Director for the City of Olympia.

WRA Board Chair Rick O’Connor made the announcement saying that Sunde has the skills and talents for the association moving forward.  Sunde has a background in retail, marketing, banking and development.  She will begin mid-October and will be working with me until I leave at the end of December.

Renee plans on attending a few key conferences in September where she can meet key members of the association (Council of State Retail Association Executives) and members of the lobby community (AWB Policy Summit).  You will hear more as she and I develop the transition plan.

It is a very exciting time for the association and I know that Renee will bring new energy that will benefit the association.  As soon as I can, I will post her biography and photo so you can get to know Renee a little more.


WRA seeks board of directors nominations

The Washington Retail Association’s Nominating Committee is looking for interested members to serve on the association’s Board of Directors.

Board members meet three times a year to discuss the key issues facing retailers and to express their concerns to elected officials and key agency staff.  The Board oversees the financial health of the organization and develops goals and objectives for the association.  At one of the meetings, the Board holds a two-day retreat to explore the future direction of the association and take a closer look at key issues.

In 2018 the retreat will be at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle on July 10 and July 11.  If you want more information or would like to be considered for a board position, please contact Jan Teague at jteague@retailassociation.org or give her a call at 360-943-9198 ext. 19.


Control of State Senate at play in 45th District race

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

Among the handful of special legislative elections this fall one stands out. The race to fill the 45th District Senate seat is the most important state race in years and is likely to be easily the most expensive race in Washington’s history. The district includes Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish east of Seattle.

The party that wins the seat will control the State Senate.  The party that controls the State Senate appoints the chairs of all the committees and decides which bills will be heard and voted on.  This is why both major parties are pulling out all the stops to either keep or pick-up the seat.

The 45th District Senate seat was held by Republican Andy Hill until his unfortunate passing last year from cancer.  Former Republican Senator Dino Rossi agreed to be appointed to fill out the term which ends this year.

Two candidates are vying for the position.  Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund and Democrat Manka Dhingra.

The Republicans currently have a one-vote Majority Coalition Caucus with one Democrat joining them.

WRA will review and evaluate both candidates to determine the level of pro-retail support we can expect.  Our WRA Retail Action Council Political Action Committee will endorse and make a full contribution of $1,000 to the candidate who best reflects our values.

We will be announcing the determination in this newsletter in the weeks to come.  Election Day is November 7 and ballots are mailed out October 16.  Voter turnout is expected to be the highest ever for the 45th District.


WRA moves to protect Retro refunds

By Tammie Hetrick,  Senior Vice President of Retail Services

 Labor and Industries is reporting that a higher than normal percentage of competing Retro programs, including the Association of Washington Business, are billing customers for higher workers compensation insurance premiums instead of issuing partial premium refunds.

Retail Association Services, WRA’s Retro subsidiary, is not in that vulnerable position regarding refunds. I’ve planned ahead on several fronts to protect the refunds of our Retro members.

I’ve taken three key steps to lessen WRA’s vulnerability regarding member assessments:

  • I’ve worked with L&I on reducing insurance risks among our Retro members.
  • I’ve purchased risk insurance and maintain a contingency fund to protect the refunds of members.
  • We also retain an auditor who does regular and rigorous reviews of our workplace injury claims to ensure that our payments are as low as possible.

It’s understandable that Retro members would be anxious as word circulates that members elsewhere are receiving assessment bills rather than collecting premium refunds they expected.

WRA, on the other hand, is taking all necessary steps to protect its Retro members from absorbing assessments. Workplace injuries, of course, can be managed without guarantees that employers will be able to avoid claim costs. But it’s important for our members to understand that we take all the steps possible to protect their refunds.


WRA will help in paid family leave rulemaking

By Tammie Hetrick, Senior Vice President of Business Services

 I recently received an invitation from Employment Security to take part in rulemaking for the state’s new paid family leave law.

It’s important for WRA members to remain engaged in the rulemaking process. It is where the details of any law get worked out, which can change the impact a new regulation can have on a business.

I will keep you abreast of key developments in rulemaking in this newsletter as they occur. The law goes into effect in January 2019.

The state law is similar to an existing federal leave law. The state law allows employees to claim up to 12 weeks of personal health or 12 weeks of family leave, with a maximum of 16 weeks leave a year, protects the worker’s job for qualified employees who have worked 1,250 hours over the past 12 months for an employer with over 50 employees. It exempts business with fewer than 50 employees.

WRA members can click here to watch a webinar I recently conducted about the law and eligibility. If you have questions about the law or want to share comments, please contact me at 360-200-6452 or at tammie@retailassociation.org.


Lens examines debate about making state labor contract talks publiclens

Advocates of opening state labor contract talks up to public scrutiny are keeping alive a debate about the issue.

The Legislature held a recent hearing about whether public contract talks would introduce a more effective check on the discussions and avoid state budget challenges that have lengthened annual legislative sessions in recent years. The 2017 session set a state record for length of days.

The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, took a look at the debate about ending the state’s practice of the Governor privately negotiating labor contract details before presenting the costs to the Legislature for approval. The story is here


Seattle moves to eliminate subminimum wage for disabled workers

Employers can comment until Sept. 6

By John Engber, WRA Seattle lobbyist

 Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards has announced it intends to change rules of its minimum wage ordinance to eliminate the special certificates that employers can get to hire workers with disabilities at a subminimum wage.

The Seattle minimum wage ordinance includes a subminimum wage provision that mirrors state law. In late July, Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold announced the rules change (http://murray.seattle.gov/mayor-murray-proposes-end-subminimum-wage-people-disabilities/), following a unanimous vote in support of the change by the Seattle Commission for People with DisAbilities.

If your company has an interest in this issue, the deadline for comments on the rules change is September 6, 2017, at 5 pm (PST). You can submit your comments:

By mail:
Seattle Office of Labor Standards
810 Third Ave., Suite 375
Seattle, WA  98104-1627
Attn:  Karina Bull, OLS Policy Manager

By email:


By phone:


Please also me know if you have concerns about these proposed rules changes. We are always happy to let the City know about the concerns of our members. You can contact me at 206-850-5517 or john.engber@retailassociation.org.

It is important to note that the OLS announcement also stated that the agency “will submit omnibus legislation to the Seattle City Council that will include the subminimum wage revision. The City Council will vote on the legislation before the end of the year.”

At this point, WRA does not know what other changes OLS will seek to current City labor laws. We will monitor this closely and let you know as soon as we find out.


Wall St. Journal comments on Seattle’s income tax fight

 The Wall Street Journal carried an editorial this week that comments upon the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation’s lawsuit challenging Seattle’s adopted income tax on the wealthy.

Because the paper requires a subscription to read the entire online commentary, the complete text follows here.

August 21, 2017

Washington is one of seven lucky U.S. states that don’t have an income tax, and one reason is that its state law greatly limits the authority to introduce one. “A county, city, or city-county shall not levy a tax on net income,” reads the statute.

Then again, when have progressive warriors let a little thing like legality stand in their way? Certainly not in Seattle, where the City Council last month passed 9-0 an ordinance imposing an income tax on high-income residents despite the black-letter law. Individuals in Seattle with incomes above $250,000 and couples with more than $500,000 will now pay a 2.25 percent tax.

To get around the language of state law, Seattle’s solons claim that they passed a tax on “total income” as defined by the amount reported on line 15 of the IRS Form 1040A tax form or line 22 of IRS Form 1040. One problem: These lines from the federal tax forms, in fact, represent net income. That’s because the amounts listed are after various deductions and exclusions, such as exempt interest or expenses.

In addition, the Washington state constitution says that “all taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property.” In 1933 Washington’s state Supreme Court ruled that property included income, meaning a progressive tax is unconstitutional.

In light of the strong statutory and constitutional case against Seattle’s new tax, a local think-tank known as the Freedom Foundation has sued the city as an “assault on the rule of law.” Not to mention the clear will of Washingtonians, who rejected a ballot measure for an income tax aimed at the wealthy as recently as 2010. The campaign was led by Bill Gates Sr. and was well funded by labor unions but lost 64 percent to 36 percent.

Never mind. This latest tax-the-rich initiative comes courtesy of an outfit called Trump Proof Seattle, a coalition of progressives and public unions. Its main idea, endorsed by Mayor Ed Murray, is that a new income tax targeting high earners advances the general progressive goal of “fairness” while the estimated $140 million in new revenue it would raise would insulate the northwest city from any potential federal budget cuts (not that those are coming).

But this is about more than revenue for the city. The city councilors even welcome the litigation, because the larger goal here is opening a path to a statewide income tax. And the path becomes much easier if the state Supreme Court takes advantage of this litigation to reverse its 1933 ruling.

As the Freedom Foundation notes in its suit, there is no need for the court even to go to the constitution. Statutory law and the city charter make it abundantly clear that the Seattle City Council lacks the legal authority to impose such a tax, especially without a vote of the people. But as with so many progressive policies these days, the City Council and mayor are counting on the courts to override the voters and impose a manifestly illegal tax.


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)


Research Council reports on latest state schools spending

A new special report by the Washington Research Council reviews the 2017 Legislature’s attempt to meet a state Supreme Court order to fully fund state schools.

The court gave the Legislature until the beginning of the 2018 school year to meet its state constitutional obligation to fully fund state schools. In short, the court ordered the state to meet education expenses that had been taken up by local school districts in recent years.

Many state legislators believe they have met the mandate of the McCleary court case. But, the Supreme Court must concur before lawmakers can move on to issues they have de-emphasized due to the mandate about fully funding schools. The court has not set a date for ruling on the Legislature’s latest school spending plan.

The state has increased state school spending by $13.6 billion since 2011, according to the Research Council report.


WRA keeps eye on L&I safety review

Washington Labor & Industries periodically reviews safety programs and rules to make sure they are addressing types of new technology and levels of accidents.

L&I’s current review has been focusing on what is calls Process Safety Management, geared more towards petroleum refineries and chemical processing, where there have been fatal accidents in the state. WRA has been attending preliminary meetings and watching for how rule changes could possibly affect our membership.

At this time we have been assured that none of the new rulings would affect our membership and that L&I’s focus will remain solely on refineries/chemical processing.  None of the changes will fall into the safety rules that would include our retail members.

More about the review can be found here.

If you have further questions, please contact Rick Means, Safety Specialist, at 360-200-6454 or rick.means@retailassociation.org.


Safety tip of the week :

Employers need to provide protective equipment

Employers in Washington State are required to provide employees with protective equipment if they have been unable to eliminate injury hazards in the workplace.

The state requires employers to make sure employees are properly trained in the use and care of protective equipment. Such equipment could be used to protect the eyes, face, head, body, arms, hands, legs, and feet with items such as goggles, helmets, head covers, gloves, rubber slickers, disposable coveralls, respirators, protective shields and barriers.  WAC 296-800-160

Even if a worker buy his own safety shoes, for example, the employer must ensure that the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from hazards on the job.

Retraining is required if an employer has reason to believe an employee lacks understanding or motivation to properly use protective equipment. Also, if an employer has changed job processes with new equipment, this would call for a review of any job hazard analysis and the new PPE needs, if any.

There are some good videos in RASI SAFETY TV‘s personal protective equipment section.  Our Retro members will find additional information in the Safety Library that can be helpful.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, 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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