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WIN Articles for May 17, 2017

Seattle scheduling study has problems

By Jan Teague, President/CEO

We recently told you about a study of retail impacts from Seattle labor practices on scheduling.  Don’t participate in the study.  I repeat, don’t participate in the study. 

 Here is why.  It’s being done by advocates in support of scheduling! (Check out the writings of Professor Susan Lambert whose research assistant is doing the work).

Why would the city hire them?  It’s simple, the city is going through the government process.  In government, the process is what matters, not interest in the results.  We always joke about the money government spends on studies and then shelves them.  This will be the same, except for one thing.  Because it is being done by an advocate for scheduling, a positive message on scheduling is the only outcome Seattle will promote.  Forget the “outliers” in the study that have a unique problem.  That’s what they will say about your concern.  They will say they have to do what is good for everyone else.

Could Seattle get it right with a good study?  Only if it was backed by hundreds of retailers going to city hall and pounding on the doors of the city council chamber.  That becomes the challenge for business, finding the time to do such a thing and leave work.

The city did send an email back to those groups who signed a letter saying their associations would not encourage their members to participate. Basically the city said that if you snooze, you lose.  It hasn’t changed anyone’s mind.  The letter still stands.  Do not participate if you are contacted.  We will let you know when and if the right study is done to take an objective look at our problems with the scheduling law.


WRA hosts June 6 webinar on Seattle scheduling ordinance

 WRA is hosting a June webinar with the law firm Lane Powell to cover how retailers must prepare for Seattle’s new scheduling ordinance that takes effect on July 1, 2017.

The one-hour presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m., PST.

Final rules for the ordinance have been published. Generally, it requires retailers with at least 500 employees nationwide to post work schedules two weeks in advance or face possible fines. It also requires new available hours to first be offered to existing employees before hiring.  Scheduling records reflecting work schedule changes must be kept for review for a three-year period.

The following issues will be covered during the webinar:

Are you a covered employer?

  • What employees are covered?
  • What is a NAICS Code and why does it matter?
  • What is a good faith estimate and when must you provide it to employees?
  • When can you grant or deny an employee’s schedule change request?
  • What is an interactive process and when is it required?
  • When must you pay for on-call time?
  • When will you be required to pay additional wages for changing an employee’s schedule?
  • How will you advertise job openings?
  • How do you meet the requirements of the ordinance, given your unique business operations?
  • What actions do you need to start working on now?
  • What actions are prohibited?
  • Can you get sued for failing to follow this new ordinance?

Click here to register or contact Emily Snyder, 503-778-2025 or snydere@lanepowell.com.


Watch WRA’s first webinar on Seattle’s new scheduling law

By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services

 WRA hosted a well-attended webinar this week explaining Seattle’s new scheduling ordinance.

Karina Bull, Senior Policy Analyst for Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards, explained the important details of the law that goes into effect on July 1, 2017. The webinar was the first of a two-part package of programs WRA has prepared for Seattle retailers who will be affected by the ordinance.

The story above also includes registration information for a June 6 legal webinar we are hosting with the Lane Powell law firm.

We have archived this week’s webinar so that as many Seattle retailers as possible can watch it at the most convenient time. Click here to watch the presentation.


“Flash Mob Robberies” bill signed into law

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

Joining Gov. Inslee at the bill signing were (left to right), WRA VP of Government Affairs, Mark Johnson; WRA President/CEO Jan Teague; WRA contract lobbyist Carolyn Logue and Holli Johnson, Government Affairs, Washington Food Industry Association.

Joining Gov. Inslee at the bill signing were (left to right), WRA VP of Government Affairs, Mark Johnson; WRA President/CEO Jan Teague; WRA contract lobbyist Carolyn Logue and Holli Johnson, Government Affairs, Washington Food Industry Association.

Governor Jay Inslee this week signed Senate Bill 5632 into law that adds “flash mob robberies” to the state’s organized retail theft statutes.  Senator Steve O’Ban (R-28th District) was the bill’s prime sponsor.

The legislation was the idea of former State Senator Mike Carrell (R-28th District) who died in 2013.

A flash mob robbery occurs when a group of thieves, usually organized on social media, descends upon an unsuspecting merchant at a pre-determined time, to rob several items at once and often destroy property and harm employees.  This was the case in Federal Way when a flash mob hit both a 7-Eleven store and a Shell gas station and convenience store on the same night.  The group overwhelmed the clerk and threw objects that damaged property before stealing merchandise.  Police responded but there were too many perpetrators to effectively deter or control the situation.

This bill increases penalties for organizing a flash mob crime.  We hope that it sends a clear message and serves as a deterrent that flash mob robberies won’t be tolerated in Washington State.  The Washington State Organized Retail Crime Alliance (WSORCA), where WRA has a role on the board of directors, endorsed the bill.



Seattle office helps businesses comply with new laws

 Seattle retailers may not have kept up with several new labor laws approved by the City Council the past few years.

There is help available to quickly learn about the new legal requirements and the best way to comply.

The city’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) employs business liaisons to work individually with businesses free of charge who need to catch up to new laws or understand them better. They can clarify laws related to the minimum wage, wage theft, fair chance employment and scheduling. The staff cannot provide legal advice but can answer general questions about how city regulatory laws work and consequences of being in violation.

You can reach a liaison one of two ways:

OLS uses LanguageLine interpretation services to speak with callers in any language. It also has access to translation services to respond to emails in languages other than English.

The Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle also can help anticipate new laws and address confusion or problems with regulatory laws. Contact Director John Engber at 206-919-0136 or john.engber@retailassociation.org.


Retail leads the way in state job gains

Unemployment dips to record low set in 2007

 Retailers led the way creating 16,100 jobs in the past year that helped the state’s unemployment rate dip to 4.6 percent in April, tying a record low rate set in June 2007. The state unemployment rate was 5.6 percent a year ago.

Overall the state gained 76,500 new jobs in the year ending in April, according to Employment Security. Other big gainers in job creation were government, with 14,800 new jobs and construction, which added 13,700.

“Washington’s economy continues to trend positively,” said Paul Turek, economist for Employment Security. “Jobs are being created, unemployment continues to fall and the labor market is tightening.”

Despite an improving economy, 60,386 people collected unemployment benefits in April. Click here to read the state’s latest full unemployment update.

Source: Employment Security



New sales tax fairness bill introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

 Washington Representative Suzan DelBene (D-Bainbridge Island) has signed on in support of the Remote Transactions Parity Act to create a fairer competitive marketplace between brick-and-mortar retailers and online sellers.

The bill aims to end a legal loophole that allows some online sellers to avoid collecting sales taxes, thereby creating a price advantage for online sellers. The uncollected but due sales taxes go uncollected by governments for essential services such as education, law enforcement and social services.

Congressional approval would end years of efforts by retailers including WRA to protect the livelihoods of traditional small businesses as online sales have become more common.

Click here to read an announcement with comments from supporters of the introduction of the bipartisan House Bill 2193.

Source: Office of Rep. Suzan DelBene


Latest state revenue report exceeds expectations

 State tax revenues for the one-month period ending May 10 were $52.3 million or 3.5 percent higher than a March forecast.

All retail trade sectors showed strong growth in tax payments for the period. The leading sectors were nonstore (online and catalog) retailers, up 15.9 percent; furniture and home furnishings, up 10.2 percent; and gas stations and convenience stores, up 9.3 percent in year-over-year increases.

The Economic Revenue Forecast Council report noted key sectors of strength in the statewide economy including job creation and home prices. It said nonfarm employment rose by 8,000 in March or 2,800 more new jobs than were forecast. It also noted that Seattle home prices continue to rise rapidly.

Click here to review the entire revenue update.

The next quarterly state revenue forecast will be on June 20.

Source: EFRC


Lens looks at how to maintain state transportation revenues

As cars become more fuel efficient, state transportation officials are facing a problem: declining revenues from gasoline taxes.

As a result, a couple of controversial ideas are being considered to maintain revenues for road construction and maintenance: continuing to increase gasoline taxes or a road user charge that determines taxes by the number of miles someone drives.

Lens, the online news source for the Business Institute of Washington, attended a presentation this week where the issue was explored. The state plans a pilot program with 2,000 drivers next year to test the road user charge.

Click here to read the report.



Times urges longshore workers to say “yes” to contract extension offer

 A recent Seattle Times editorial urges West Coast longshore workers to accept a three-year contract extension offered by The Pacific Maritime Association.

The offer would extend the current contract to 2022 and bring shipping certainty to industries including retail, which imports large quantities of merchandise from overseas.

According to the editorial, the state lost $770 million in business from a prolonged shipping slowdown that occurred late in 2014 and early 2015 as contract talks bogged down. Retailers were unable to obtain deliveries during the busiest shopping quarter of the year and agricultural products rotted on docks due to work slowdowns.

The Los Angeles Times reports the proposed extension includes annual 3.1 percent wage increases that would boost base wages to $46.23 an hour; increased pension contributions and preserved health care benefits including $1 copays for prescriptions. The agreement covers 29 West Coast ports including Seattle and Tacoma.

The International Longshore Workers Union may vote on the offer this summer.

Times customers can read the editorial here.



Safety tip of the week

Assign new employees an orientation buddy

Finding enough time to properly orientate your new employees can be a problem. In the first orientation there can be a lot to cover, including policies and paperwork, in a short period of time.

But there is a way to continue the process with orientation buddies.  Every new hire should have an orientation buddy to help him or her get off to a good, safe start. They can show your new workers the safety elements the company has built in including the location of the fire exits and extinguishers; first-aid kits; eyewash stations; chemical safety data sheets and equipment usage.  By imparting safety knowledge along the way, they are having a secondary effect by making the newcomer feel valued, which can lead to a more engaged and productive employee.

In order to carry out these important duties successfully, orientation buddies should:

  • Have been with your organization for at least a year.
  • Have a good performance history and a safe work record.
  • Be skilled in the new employee’s job.
  • Possess broad knowledge about your organization, your operations, and your safety programs.
  • Have the time to spend with the new employee and be willing to take on the assignment.
  • Be patient and communicate well.
  • Serve as a positive safety role model.

Building relationships through this type of mentoring is another way to ensure that new employees have the resources they need to succeed.  Seasoned employees can help new employees on the job and provide support.  New employees tend to be hesitant about asking questions for fear of appearing incompetent.

A company’s orientation program should include easy access to resources to reduce new employee frustration and to provide essential, effective safety training.

Washington Retail has an app that can help your young worker out with some safety basics that can be found here.


Businesses invited to Governor’s career summit

Businesses statewide are invited to participate in the Governor’s all-day Summit on Career Connected Learning on May 31.

The summit will connect participants from 28 locations around the state from the central hosting site at Microsoft’s Redmond campus.

The summit’s goal is to identify resources and policies to better qualify the next generation of employees for the science and technology jobs of the future. Planners expect to establish a network of advocates for learning and career opportunities for Washington’s youth.

Click here to learn more about the event and to register from several locations across the state. More information is available at the Washington Chamber of Commerce Executives website.


Save money with WRA’s discount shipping partner

FedEx and UPS have higher shipping rates this year.

WRA extends an offer to save money on shipping small packages by singing up with Partnership, WRA’s discount shipping partner.

To enroll and receive exclusive discounts on select FedEx® services, visit PartnerShip.com/99WRA. For more information, email sales@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902.

Learn more about how the 2017 rate increases will affect your shipping costs by downloading a free research paper at PartnerShip.com/RateIncrease.

Source: Partnership


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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