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WIN Articles for October 11, 2017

My last week

By Jan Teague, President/CEO

I will be saying goodbye to you today.  It’s been 19 years.  What a great opportunity to advocate for the retail industry and learn about all of your companies.

We have all seen a great many ups and downs in the retail sector.  I recall listening to Macy’s CEO, Terry Lundgren, who once told a large National Retail Association audience that retailers were flexible and knew how to weather downturns.  I had the opportunity to meet him once, which was such an honor for me.  I haven’t forgotten his inspiration and if anyone would know retail, it was him.  He started his career at Macy’s and moved up over his many years.

What I appreciated about him was the time he gave the industry.  He didn’t have to do that but understood that the health of the industry depended upon everyone working together on common causes.  He was consistent in that belief in my 19 years here and gave all of the retail associations his support.

I write about Lundgren because it’s people like him who ensure that our retail industry can remain flexible in its planning.  Yes, retailers can rethink their model during a recession, but can they be constantly bombarded with new rules and regulations?  It’s a futuristic question because so much of the strategic answer is our work on prevention.  Associations work to protect companies from rapid change and help companies keep the stability they need to plan.  Planning horizons can be months out.  Changes in laws and regulations can be too short and too expensive.

Your association is a part of your business plan.  The association helps with communications to inform you of potential problems and we work to develop relationships with leaders who impact your business.  I am proud of this work and have always found that protecting business from constant bombardment of new rules provides all of you with the opportunity to go about your business, to be flexible during bad times and be successful during good times.

As I leave, I want to tell you that we are growing.  We can see the problems of the future for you.  They start in Seattle and work their way to Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver, and smaller cities that like to be thought of as “leading the way.” Local political leaders are often not aware of the unintended consequences of their progressive ideas.  We need to take action in new ways at the local level and to make our industry a key player in all public policy.  It’s a big task, but we must do it.  It’s sweeping the nation as the next big problem for retailers.

So, you will be receiving a letter that asks for your support for a dues increase to fund this critical change in politics.  We, too, must be agile and keep up with those groups who have decided to work on local governments, to pack local city halls, making demands without caring about what it might cost local businesses.  I hope you will contribute.  If you haven’t already received a letter from us, expect one shortly.  Every member will be asked to give what they can.

So that is my last cautionary tale.  There won’t be another from me.  Take it to heart.  We have five years of evidence in Seattle and I know we can make a difference there and other cities with your help.

As for me, I would like to say that I am now entering the world of consulting as I retire.  But it wouldn’t be true.  I will be attending a writer’s conference in Bellevue this weekend and plan on pursuing a life-long love of writing.  Oh, there is the normal checklist:  more training for the dog on good manners, doing housework that has been waiting for me, getting into better shape, spending more time with the family.  And, what do you know, my husband is running for a local city council office.  Who would guess that would be in my retirement plan?

Best to you all and I will have my email up until the end of the year if you want to send me a note:  jteague@retailassociation.org.

 

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.

 

Setting legislative priorities for 2018

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

As the 2018 Legislative Session approaches, it is time for all WRA members to help guide our lobbying efforts by weighing in on the important issues to you and your businesses.  Please watch your emails soon for a short survey to rank your top ten issues that will likely be before the legislature.

This is a member-only survey, so please do not forward to others.  Please participate in the survey by November 1. 

Potential issues will include:  taxes and fees, mandated scheduling practices, and classification of independent contractors.

The results of the survey will be presented to the WRA Board of Directors at our November 14 meeting.  The top ten issues help guide the lobbying efforts and where to put our resources.  Additionally, issues not identified on the list does not mean they will not be addressed.  Issues are added as they come up during session and throughout the stakeholder process.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

 

WRA meets with L&I regarding fees related to chemical reporting

By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer

I will be meeting with Labor & Industries this week to see if any of our members will be feeling financial impacts from the state’s campaign to inform consumers about industries that use potentially dangerous chemicals.

Last year, we intervened when Labor & Industries surprised beauty salons with fees used to publicize the industry’s use of chemicals. L&I agreed at that time to withhold the billing of beauty salons as part of its Right to Know campaign.

My meeting this week is to make sure no unnecessary billing results that would surprise any of our members.

Bills mistakenly went out last summer following L&I’s decision to conform to more detailed federal reporting standards on chemical use in the workplace. Its chemical reporting rules generally apply to industries including agriculture and forestry; mining; construction; manufacturing; transportation; communications; electric, gas and sanitary services; automotive and other repair services, health services and educational services.

Last year, we were assured beauty salons would not be billed, but had to intervene when bills went out to them. I will be getting updates on which industries will be included in this year’s billing and report back on my findings. More information on Right to Know can be found here. If you received a bill for Right to Know and you don’t commonly receive one from Labor and Industries, contact our office for assistance.  Please contact Robert Mitchell at Robert.mitchell@retailassociationservices.com.

 

Ecology adopts new rules for reporting chemicals in children’s products

The Department of Ecology has updated a list of chemicals to be reported by manufacturer’s under the Children’s Safe Products Act.

Ecology added 20 chemicals of concern while removing 3 from its list. The updated rule goes into effect on October 31 of this year and requires manufacturer’s to report the presence of 85 chemicals included in children’s products.

More information about the update is available here.

Affected companies with questions can contact Kara Steward at 360-407-6250 or at kara.steward@ecy.wa.gov.

 

lensBusinesses say L&I’s proposed insurance rate decrease could be larger next year

Despite a proposed decrease in 2018 workers compensation insurance rates by Labor & Industries, business representatives say the 2.5 percent rate increase could be larger.

The disagreement between L&I and two business representatives surrounds whether L&I should try to increase its cash reserves or set rates to break even financially. By breaking even, L&I could reduce rates by nearly 6 percent, on average, next year, said Kris Tefft, executive director of the Washington Self-Insurer’s Association.

The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, carried an article about room to increase next year’s average decrease in workers’ compensation insurance rates. Read the article here.

 

Retailers, fill open positions with free hiring events

By Chad Pearson, Business Outreach, Employment Security

Employers are always looking for ways to keep good staff.  With the labor market tight and the number of difficult-to-fill positions growing every day, many employers are using tactics that are difficult to sustain, like poaching employees or holding on to so-so staff- because it’s hard to replace them.

While this might work in the short term, moves like this are detrimental to the future of your business.  Candidates willing to jump to your ship for a few extra dollars are willing to jump again when the next offer comes along.  And those hard-to-replace, but low-performing employees drag your staff down and hurt business.

So what do you do? It’s easy! Reach out to your local WorkSource center and tell them you want to hold a hiring event to find great candidates. There are business solutions professionals at every center who can help you host and market a hiring event, prepare candidates and grow the skills of your current staff.  Best of all, the services are provided at no cost.

Click on the yellow “Look Smart for Talent” logo on the Washington Retail Association website, www.retailassociation.org or visit retail’s microsite onWorkSourceWA.com today and use the Resource Tab at the top to find a WorkSource center near you. While you’re there, visit the employer page to start posting your open positions for free.

 

Use our calculator to estimate 2018 workers’ comp insurance payments

Once again this year, Retail Association Services has provided our website visitors with a spreadsheet to estimate 2018 workers comp insurance premiums.

You can download the form by visiting the Retail Association Service website and clicking the “premiums calculator” promotion at the top of the site.

“Every year, our staff is hard at work getting next year’s potential insurance premiums out to RASI members,” said Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer. “The estimator is a handy tool so that our members can plan next year’s finances as soon as possible.”

Labor & Industries has proposed an average 2.5 percent decrease in 2018 insurance rates. Hetrick said it’s important to note that the proposed rates are averages, and not exact. She noted that while some claim costs are down, state pension costs have increased. WRA is awaiting more information to determine how much pension costs could affect next year’s rates for all retail risk classes, Hetrick said.

 

Seattle reminds large employers about minimum wage changes in January

Companies in Seattle with more than 500 employees worldwide have been notified that minimum wages will change in January to reflect the annual rate of inflation.

The Office of Labor Standards notice says large employers who do not pay toward an employee’s medical benefits will be require to pay a $15.45 an hour minimum wage on January 1, 2018. For large companies that do pay toward medical benefits, the minimum wage will be $15 an hour.

OLS will update labor standards posters with the increased amounts by December 1 of this year. Click here for more information or call 206-256-5297. The city code pertaining to wages is here.

 

Safety tip of the week:

Stay active to slow physical decline

Statistics show that you begin to lose muscle mass in your late 20s.  Along with that comes a decrease in muscle strength.  This loss of strength and muscle mass contributes to problems related to aging such as falls and makes it harder for people to do the activities they like.

Most people are aware of their limitations but some will try to push their limits, which can lead to an injury.  Get employees to use tools and design ways of working in their power zone, between the waist and shoulders.

Another thing to consider is that ligaments and tendons lose their elasticity.  This can lead to overexertion when twisting at the waist, reaching overhead and bending over to pick up the morning paper.

Being more active will lead you toward a longer and healthier life.  Simple activities such as regular walking and moderate strength training can cause a lessening of this decline as you age.  It will also help with other issues: diabetes, less weight gain, improved blood pressure and maintaining motor skills

Both RASI SAFETYTV and the RASI Safety Library can provide you more details on this topic.

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 rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

 

Trump continuing with health care reform effort

President Trump reportedly will sign an executive order this week that would allow association health plans to pool customers and buy insurance outside their states. This, Trump believes, would increase competition and reduce rates, according to an Associated Press report.

The news service reported that Trump could sign the order on Thursday.

Such a move is expected to be resisted because health insurance reflects local medicals costs that vary widely around the country. State insurance regulators reportedly also could challenge the legality of such an executive order and fear it could undermine state insurance markets created under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

AP also reports Trump’s action probably comes too late to affect 2018 premiums.

Click here to read the full report.

 

“Shake Out” earthquake drill is next week

 More than 800,000 participants statewide are expected to practice earthquake survival skills during the 2017 Great Washington ShakeOut the morning of Oct. 19.

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to “drop, cover and hold on” at 10:19 AM on that day in a worldwide earthquake drill simulation. Organizers have begun conducting the drill annually to raise awareness and improve preparations for earthquakes.

Click here to register your company for the drill. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your company and employees for the earthquake drill. Click here to review recent seismic activity in the Northwest.

WRA urges members to register and participate in the drill. Analysis of disasters shows that companies can increase their odds of surviving an earthquake through practicing safety steps.

The state Emergency Management Division is offering several useful computer links for additional information.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, will be reviewing the drills with the office staff. WRA plans to again participate in the event this year.

More preparedness links can be found on RASI Safety TV.

Rick 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 rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

 

L&I posts rules for statewide sick and safe leave

Labor & Industries has filed proposed enforcement rules for the statewide paid sick and safe leave program that employers have to begin providing in January 2018.

The proposed rulemaking is here. A draft of the proposed rule language is here.

The public has two ways to comment on the rules: at two public hearings or in writing.

The hearings schedule is:

  • 10 a.m., Nov. 8, Spokane Centerplace Auditorium, 2426 Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, 99216.
  • 10 a.m., Nov. 9, Labor & Industries headquarters auditorium, 7273 Linderson Way S.W., Tumwater 98501.

Written comments should be addressed to Allison Drake, Department of Labor & Industries, Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards, P.O. Box 44400, Olympia, Wa. 98504-4400, or i1433Rules@lni.wa.gov. The fax number is 360-902-5300. Comments must be received no later than the close of business on November 17, 2017.

 

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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