Minimum wage initiative upheld
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
I received the Kittitas County judge’s decision yesterday to uphold Initiative 1433 that raised the minimum wage and established paid sick leave. A coalition of associations had hoped the court would agree with us that it was a two-subject initiative that is against our state law.
In short, the judge said that labor law is a one-subject issue and the voters knew what they were voting for. If you are a worker, why wouldn’t you vote for more money and paid benefits? The judge sided with this logic even though he didn’t say it quite like that.
This trend to increase labor costs through initiatives is expected to continue with the unions emboldened by their success. Will we survive another such initiative on more paid leave for other reasons besides being sick? That is the union group’s next plan.
I expect to see an initiative on paid family leave coming soon. While we wait, Seattle will jump into the cause and pass an onerous law as soon as possible.
What can we do to protect our retailers? I think the answer is to elect business friendly leaders at the local and state level. WRA does participate in the election process, but we do rely on member support to make that happen.
I hope you will consider making donations to our Political Action Committee. You can make checks out to RPAC, P.O. Box 2227, Olympia, Wa. 98507-2227.
Teague urges Reichert to support the American Health Care Act
WRA President/CEO Jan Teague has sent Congressman Dave Reichert a letter urging him to support President Trump’s efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act with a good, affordable health care law.
Reichert supported an earlier attempt by Trump that was eventually withdrawn due to lack of support. The Congressman since has pulled back to a neutral position for the time being.
“We need our costs to go down,” Teague wrote of retailers. “We need more insurance companies to offer plans in our state.”
The proposal in development is called the American Health Care Act. The act passed in the Obama administration includes heavy administrative burdens, scarce competition among insurance companies, taxes, and penalties including fines on people without minimum health care coverage.
“I think it is hard for any bill to be perfect,” Teague wrote,” but we do know that it will be a great improvement over the crisis our country faces now.”
WRA to host May 16 webinar on Seattle’s scheduling ordinance
WRA will host a webinar on May 16 to explain Seattle’s new ordinance that makes specific scheduling requirements of many retailers operating in the city.
Tammie Hetrick, Senior Vice President of Services, will host the one-hour presentation by Karina Bull of Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards. The presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m.
The law that will go into effect on July 1 of this year requires larger retailers to post work schedules two weeks in advance; requires additional hours to be offered to existing part-time employees before hiring can occur; and imposes fines if violations can be documented. It also requires companies to keep scheduling records and documentation for three years.
Click here to learn more and register.
Sales tax holidays boost spending and taxes, Federal Reserve report finds
Consumers respond favorably to sales tax holidays that especially help low-income households, according to a new study published by the Federal Reserve.
The report’s analysis of a Massachusetts sales tax holiday found that it resulted in a net boost to retail spending over the entire month. It did not, as critics have claimed, merely shift spending to a different part of the month without increasing overall monthly sales and tax results.
A bipartisan bill, HB 1457, has been introduced during this legislative session to institute a back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend in Washington. However, it has not moved through committees to a floor vote. WRA supports a back-to-school sales tax holiday for several reasons. It would increase sales and tax revenues, encourage employment and benefit consumers, especially those on stretched family budgets.
Because the Washington bill has budget implications, it is eligible for debate in the current special session.
In the case of Massachusetts, consumers in 2014 and 2015 received broad breaks on sales taxes for purchases up to $2,500. Other states have scheduled tax holidays for purchases related to hurricane preparedness, energy conservation, and hunting.
Click here to read the Fed study.
WRA responds to state sick and safe leave rules
Talks continue on possible paid family leave
By Tammie Hetrick, Senior VP of Retail Services
WRA has submitted its concerns during the current rulemaking process to establish paid statewide sick and safe leave.
There still is time for public input on the rules. We anticipate a new draft next week. L&I has established a website of rules updates and links for making public comment. The deadline for public comment is May 31. Click here to view the page and make comments.
We asked Labor & Industries to perform an economic impact analysis targeted on small businesses that would be most affected by the costs associated with paid sick and safe leave. Voters approved paid sick and safe leave as part of Initiative 1433 that also called for stepped up increases in the statewide minimum wage.
WRA’s concerns have to do with how much the new financial obligations will make layoffs necessary and threaten the livelihoods of small businesses, especially in rural parts of the state. The initiative was written in such a way that it limits the ability to actually provide for a sick and safe leave program that would work for all employees and their employers.
Unfortunately, we are limited on what can be changed since the law was so specific on what can and cannot be done regarding sick and safe leave. Employers are left struggling to comply.
L&I also plans public hearings on the rules around the state in August.
Family leave update
I’m also involved in continuing talks with labor leaders and legislators on a possible statewide paid family leave policy.
We plan to meet weekly through the special session in hopes of agreeing on a policy that would not harm businesses while extending a new benefit to employees.
Retailers benefit from strong aerospace industry
Two bills this session would hurt the industry
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs
Washington State is known for having a robust aerospace industry. The industry started with Boeing and has spread with the creation of numerous aerospace companies and related businesses.
The aerospace industry is estimated to generate almost $95 billion in economic activity and provide over 250,000 jobs in 35 counties across the state.
Retailers and other businesses benefit from the more than $21 billion in wages paid to aerospace workers. These workers are our neighbors and customers. They spend much of their wages in our stores both small and large. Many retailers, especially near aerospace clusters, depend on these workers to make their businesses successful.
WRA supports and advocates for state policies that reflect the vital importance aerospace plays. Tax exemptions and incentives should be a part of this overall strategy and economic development.
Unfortunately, two bills are under consideration in the Legislature that would harm the aerospace industry. House Bills 2145 and 2146 seek to change previously made agreements by adding artificial employment levels or the companies would be forced to pay the tax incentives back. This sends the wrong message and creates uncertainty in the aerospace community.
These bills would not only significantly damage companies that are providing jobs and tax revenues. Other industries such as retail also would be hurt.
WRA encourages the legislature to not move forward with House Bills 2145 or 2146. Let’s keep aerospace healthy and vibrant so that retail and all businesses can grow and prosper for the greater good of Washington State.
Research Council discusses proposed capital gains tax
Among Gov. Inslee’s many tax proposals this year is a capital gains tax on sold assets.
It is but one of several tax increase proposals under discussion during the current special legislative session to pass a new state budget.
In its latest Policy Today podcast, two Washington Research Council staff members talk about the capital gains tax idea and its pitfalls. An earlier Research Council policy analysis found fault with a capital gains tax on several fronts. WRA concurs and also opposes a capital gains tax.
The policy paper addresses expected court challenges to the constitutionality of a capital gains tax. It would be an unpredictable revenue stream and add to the economic burden of other taxes proposed by Inslee including a carbon tax and an increase in the business and occupation tax, the paper notes. These all would add financial burdens to business and in some case, pass on new living costs to consumers.
Safety tip of the week
Orderliness can prevent accidents at work
As far as injuries go, the most critical part of workplace housekeeping is keeping items in order. Are tools strewn about, for example, or in their proper place?
Managers and employees should check regularly to ensure that aisleways are clear for employees and customers.
Some of the benefits of good housekeeping include:
- Eliminating causes of accidents
- Preventing wasted energy looking for lost items later on
- Maintaining good use of available space
- Reducing damage to goods
- Encouraging better work habits
- Reflecting an organized workplace and image
Companies should develop a strategy for good housekeeping. During the day, does your staff periodically stop and survey the floors and shelves to see if there are any hazards for staff or customers? Make a habit of regularly looking over the store and housekeeping will be easier and prevent potential injuries.
Consider watching RASI SAFETY TV’s The Accident Cascade video that be shown to start a discussion during a safety meeting.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cavuto, Farage announced as speakers for Policy Center’s annual dinners
Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and former Independence Party Leader in the United Kingdom, Nigel Farage, have been announced as keynote speakers at the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinners.
Cavuto, who oversees Fox News’ business news content, will address the Bellevue dinner. Farage, a key strategist in the Brexit movement and a Fox News political analyst, will address the Spokane dinner.
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.
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.
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.