A time for every season
By President/CEO Renée Sunde
Fall is a time that we pause to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives. Today, I want to thank you, our association members, industry stakeholders, elected officials and public servants for all that you do to support the retail industry throughout the State of Washington.
On Monday evening, the association acknowledged and bid farewell to a wonderful leader with a retirement celebration in her honor held at the Olympia Golf & Country Club. Jan Teague, the association’s President/CEO for over 19 years, not only built the Washington Retail Association into a strong and fiscally stable organization effectively advocating and serving retailers around the state but also helped to lay a solid foundation for the association as we move into the uncertainty that lies ahead for the retail industry.
In my short time as President/CEO, it’s become abundantly clear that Jan is respected for her leadership not only by the staff and Board of Directors but by WRA members and association partners around the state and across the nation.
So today, I am thankful for Jan’s leadership and mentorship. I’m thankful for the legacy she leaves for the association. We wish Jan many exciting adventures in the coming years and even more precious time with family and friends.
I also want to thank our WRA Board of Directors for their continued dedication and commitment. Yesterday we hosted our annual fall board meeting at Olympia’s State Capitol. Through the past year of succession planning and leadership transition, WRA board members have dedicated hours of their time to ensure that we are strong and well positioned to move the organization forward. A special thanks to Rick O’Connor, outgoing Chair, Francisco Uribe, 2017/2018 Chair and HR Committee Chairman, Lowell Gordon for your hard work during this process.
In my first few weeks as CEO, I’ve had many priorities. I’ve been meeting with legislators as we gear up for session, strategic planning with my leadership team, and introducing myself to many of you, our members, partners and stakeholders. Through staff listening sessions, I gained valuable insight on the future challenges and opportunities facing the association. The board meeting set the stage for instant polling that also informed our priorities and strategies in the coming year.
Next, we will be reaching out to our members to solicit your feedback and shape priorities that allow us to be effective in meeting your needs. Please be looking for our membership survey in the coming month.
Supreme Court rules state has more work to do to fully fund schools
Washington State remains short of its constitutional obligation to fully fund schools, specifically teacher salaries, according to a state Supreme Court order issued today.
Under an order in the court’s McCleary case, named after plaintiffs, the state has until September of next year to fully fund schools as required by the state constitution.
In its order, the court acknowledged the Governor and Legislature have made significant progress in improving basic education funding in recent years. But a funding bill the Legislature approved earlier this year still falls short, the order concludes.
“By its own admission, the State will not meet the established deadline of September 1, 2018, as to all components,” the court wrote. “Instead, the funding system adopted….delays by over a year implementation of a constitutionally compliant salary model, a critical part of meaningful reform.”
Democrat Gov. Inslee will get the first crack at addressing the order in his state budget proposal, due out in December. Then, legislators will respond with their own spending plans after they convene for the 2018 session on January 8.
Though details of spending ideas have not yet been publicized, Democrats took control of both houses of the Legislature in elections earlier this month. WRA expects lawmakers will propose several new revenue-producing ideas in the form of new or increased taxes.
WRA will monitor all tax-related ideas and debates and provide regular updates as they become available.
Click here to read today’s court order.
Seattle proposes changes to paid sick leave, scheduling
Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards is proposing legislation to amend paid sick and safe time and predictable scheduling ordinances.
The sick and safe leave amendments incorporate more generous provisions of Initiative 1433 that voters approved late last year. Amendment examples include:
- All employers with at least one employee must provide paid sick and safe time off.
- There are no work-study exemptions.
- The law includes tending to family members, children of any age, siblings and grandchildren.
- No caps on use
- There is a waiver for collective bargaining agreements.
The scheduling amendments clarify employer coverage in response to changes in federal job category codes.
Times urges Mayor-elect Durkan to address Seattle business concerns
Seattle’s business climate needs tending and Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan is well-suited to do it, The Seattle Times has concluded in an editorial.
The election of Durkan, a former federal prosecutor, affords businesses their best hope in years that the mayor’s office will work to improve the business climate. WRA has been among many business organizations concerned about mounting government regulations and labor laws that burden businesses financially and threaten the livelihoods of employers and employees alike.
The paper faulted Seattle for “administrative neglect, legislative assault and willingness to be used as a policy sandbox by special interests,” referring to the City Council imposing restrictive scheduling on larger retail employers. The scheduling law’s requirements include locking into work schedules two weeks in advance, offering additional hours to existing employees before hiring and keeping schedule-related records for up to three years.
It also cited Durkan’s need to address Seattle-based Amazon.com’s decision in September to seek a second headquarters outside of Seattle, or even outside the state.
A City Council committee this week defeated an idea to tax businesses based on the size of their payrolls to raise funds to address homelessness in Seattle. But as the council continues debate on adopting a city budget, other new tax ideas could come up for a vote.
In recent years, small businesses in particular have been complaining about mounting regulations and financial burdens imposed by city government. The frustration has caused friction with some members of the City Council in recent days. Click here to read a recent account.
The entire Seattle Times editorial is here.
Sources: Seattle Times, mynorthwest.com
Look for new services from WRA
Flexibility is the key in the retail industry
By Terry Hopsecger, Director Business Development
Don’t let those articles that proclaim the death of retail fool you. Retailers are in the process of transformation. In this disruptive operating environment, retailers must effectively extend their unique brand experience beyond their physical and virtual four walls to wherever and whenever consumers demand.
Flexibility is the key in the retail industry as well as with all associations. Retailers must nurture relationships with their customers and gain deeper understanding of the customer’s needs through face-to-face contact or digitally. The reward for retailers is increased sales. This also rings true with associations. We need to provide solid, pro-active services and platforms that have a direct bearing on your bottom line.
In the coming year at Washington Retail you will see enhanced and new services rolled out; a revival of sorts. We will expand our presence on the web with smart, short videos to get the news out quickly as well as safety videos and apps customized to the needs of each member. You will have the opportunity to join in on webinars that will train members on cybersecurity, safety, human resources and Labor & Industries topics.
Please visit the website www.retailassociation.org to get all of the up-to-date information.
Give me a call or email and let me know what your company is up to and how we can help make you successful. Call Terry Hopsecger @ (360) 200-6453 or email@example.com. I will look forward to talking with you.
Does rejection of three tax-related advisory votes mean voters are tapped out on new taxes? Does Democrat control of the Legislature really mean voters support more or different taxes?
Voters this month rejected three non-binding advisory votes on tax measures addressing school funding, eliminating a tax exemptions on bottled water and a tax increase on fishing licenses.
The last election resulted in Democrats taking control of both houses of the state Legislature while Democrat Jay Inslee is serving as Governor.
The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, includes a recent article exploring whether the advisory votes will influence state legislators regarding potential tax increase ideas brought forth in the 2018 Legislative session. Click here to read the article.
Safety tip of the week:
Try active sitting or standing to improve health
We were born to move, so how can you help your body while you are sitting at work? You can practice active sitting.
Conventional chairs provide passive support while the chair does all the work. This type of inactivity can lead to future health problems. So, what is active sitting?
There are ways to break up some of that passive sitting with chairs that cause you to do a little work at your desk. You may have seen the two -bench version where your knees rest on one bench and you sit on the other bench. There is a stationary version and a rocking version. These will make you sit straighter and allow your body do more of the work to sit.
Another type of chair reminds me of a single-legged stool. It has a flat base with the ability to bend and is adjustable for height. You can rock some while you sit and get some exercise, too. Active sitting gives you a chance. They also say that active sitting burns more calories.
There are other ways to make daily sitting more active. Trying standing when you take phone calls. Another option is to switch to a desk that raises and lowers. That way you can spend part of your day standing and the other part sitting. Anything you can do to not be sitting at the office all day will help with your overall energy throughout the day and is healthier for you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle starts direct labor law investigations
Probes can begin without employee complaints
Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards has begun direct investigations for compliance from retailers to a host of labor laws without the need of a complaint from workers.
OLS outlined its reasoning in a recent news release.
The City Council in recent months has approved a host of new labor rights but also has been receiving internal employee complaints. The news release notes that inspectors are checking compliance with minimum wage and other labor standards including worker scheduling.
The announcement includes links to frequently asked questions and help for employers and workers alike.
Meanwhile, members of WRA or the Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle (RICS) who have questions about the stepped-up auditing process can contact John Engber, RICS Director, at email@example.com or at 206-850-5517.
Child Support Division changes income withholding procedure
To comply with new federal requirements, the state Division of Child Support will change how it reports income withholding starting in December of this year.
DCS has been issuing income withholding per employee or non-custodial parent. The federal standard, however, requires that income withholding be issued per case, not per employee. So, the state will begin phasing in the new procedure in December where it applies.
The division expects most employers will not have trouble adjusting because:
- More than 70 percent of parents have only one case.
- The change will be phased in.
- Multi-state employers are familiar with the new procedure because it already is in effect in most other states.
- DCS will offer webinars for employers to explain the changes and answer questions. Information about these webinars will be made available on the Employer page of the DCS website.
Click here to read more about the new policy.
Source: Department of Social and Health Services
State Senator steps down from 39th district seat
State Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, has stepped down to accept a job in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pearson served in the House of Representatives for 12 years before being elected to the Senate in 2012. He represented a district including parts of King, Skagit and Snohomish counties. Pearson’s new job opportunity came as a result of an appointment from the Trump administration.
Republican Party officials must appoint Pearson’s successor, who could be on the ballot next year. Read more in the Monroe Monitor.
Contact WRA if you need an updated workplace poster
The state Labor & Industries department has updated the Your Rights as a Worker poster to include the new paid sick leave requirements that were approved by Washington voters in 2016. The requirement of businesses goes into effect in January 2018 as a result of voter approval of Initiative 1433.
L&I mailed the poster to businesses, but if you misplaced it or didn’t receive it, you can print one here. If you would like a full-sized copy sent to you, please contact Rick Means at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to larn more about the nine employee posters the state requires, go here and scroll to the Workplace Poster list.
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.