The Las Vegas massacre
By Jan Teague, President/CEO
I was in Las Vegas when this happened. I was safe but impacted as was the entire city. There were no taxis, roads were closed, the airport was closed, the restaurants were closed, the employees were gone. Only the police were at the front door of our hotel keeping anyone from entering or leaving. People were herded to a safe area of the hotel. We slipped up to our room and watched from the 16th floor as ambulances and police cars ran down the road towards Mandalay Bay. We watched local TV as it showed thousands of people being herded down the main road out of the reach of the flying bullets. The news was reporting multiple locations and hotels and multiple people doing shooting.
We were definitely worried about our safety. Mass confusion was what we saw on the local station. It didn’t matter your age or your ability. People needed to get out of the area and law enforcement was keeping everyone moving down the street. There was no way of knowing at that time how many people had been shot or how big of a problem the city was having.
I didn’t sleep that night. And now days later, I realize how this did impact the entire city and all of the visitors from other places. Our safety was everyone’s top priority. As I thought about how complex that really was, I understood just how important it is for all of us to be vigilant in our work environments and to understand with high regard the importance of safety training for every work environment. It’s about your employees and it’s about your customers at the same time.
We hear a lot about the role of our police and our first responders. But what I saw was how the everyday worker also played a role. We can’t underestimate how such a terrible experience is one that we all are a part of in some small way. I saw it time and again in Las Vegas that night and into the next day as people found their way to their flights without their bags, without their shoes, and exhausted from being held on the street all night long until it was safe.
Your association works to do its part to remind you all about having a safe work environment. As I visited with Tammie Hetrick today about what we can do, we have training for active shooter situations. Please take a look at that information on our RASI website. WRA members can go here for further information. You can also call our Safety Specialist, Rick Means, at 360-200-6454.
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 email@example.com or give her a call at 360-943-9198 ext. 19.
Walmart holds Academy graduation
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Walmart Academy graduation ceremony for 69 team members in Vancouver, Washington.
The Mayor of Vancouver, Tim Leavitt, congratulated the employees for successfully completing the training that will enable them to advance in their retail careers at Walmart. The company also held an open house at the new state-of-the-art training center located on the store property.
Walmart is hoping to train 140,000 of its team members by the end of the year. Congratulations graduates!
WRA sponsors Chamber Executive Conference
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Last week I attended the Washington Chamber of Commerce Executives (WCCE) conference in Moses Lake along with our incoming President/CEO Renée Sunde. WRA was one of the sponsors of the event.
The event was well attended by executives from most of the states’ chambers of commerce. I was asked to participate on a legislative advocacy panel along with the U.S. Chamber and the Association of Washington Business. We discussed the results of the 2017 Legislative Session and what we saw as issues facing the 2018 Legislature. We also thanked and encouraged the executives to have a robust political advocacy program for their chamber members.
WRA highly values its partnership with WCCE and its members and looks forward to many years of working together.
WRA co-sponsors Small Business Fair
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
On Saturday, September 30, I attended the annual Internal Revenue Service Small Business Fair at the Renton Vocational and Technical College. WRA was one of the sponsors and promoters of the event.
About 250 current and future small business owners attended the free event. Several helpful workshops were offered to help owners grow their businesses and make them successful. There was even a panel of small business owners sharing their experiences opening and operating a successful small business.
WRA had a booth and handed out information on membership, issues on which we work, our SAFEME safety app for entry level retail employees and our retrospective rating industrial insurance claims management program. Dozens of local, state and federal agencies and departments had booths at the event to offer attendees assistance. WRA has sponsored and participated in the event for several years.
WRA addresses association executives about paid family leave
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
Last week, I was a guest speaker of the Meeting Planners International Washington State Chapter and Washington Society of Association Executives regarding the state’s plan to implement paid family and medical leave.
Rulemaking begins this month for a benefit plan scheduled to go into effect January 2020. Payroll deductions to finance the plan will begin January 2019. Companies with 50 or more employees are required to participate.
At this stage, I found there still is a lot of confusion about the state’s plan. Many companies still do not understand how the state’s plan will mesh with the established federal leave program. My service on an advisory committee monitoring the state’s family and medical leave rulemaking process makes WRA an information resource on how the program will take shape in the coming months.
Rulemaking for the program will continue in phases until September of next year.
WRA will be watching to try to make sure the program works as envisioned in a way that is the least burdensome on retailers while remaining fair to employees.
If you have questions or comments to make about the program, please contact me at 360-200-6452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WRA monitors possible rule that could affect potted plant sales
By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
I’ve begun monitoring the state Department of Agriculture’s discussions to add soil in potted plants to the list of regulations pertaining to apply maggot quarantine rules.
A request to study such a rule has been submitted by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. If enacted, the proposed rule would restrict potted apple maggot host plants with fruit from moving out of quarantine areas into the pest-free area. A statewide map of apple maggot quarantine areas is here. Click here for additional background on the quarantine.
Such a rule would restrict distribution and sales of potted plants for many of our WRA members.
Rulemaking has not yet begun on the idea, but the Agriculture Department has told the fruit tree association in a letter that its staff is under direction to start a rulemaking process. The next meeting to consider the idea will be in February 2018.
State law requires Agriculture to develop a small business economic impact statement for rules that impose more than minor economic impacts to businesses prior to adopting any new rules. Agriculture anticipates it will take several months to complete the economic impact statement. The department also would conduct at least one public hearing before adopting a new rule.
Meanwhile, if you have questions or comments regarding the idea, please contact me at 360-200-6452 or at email@example.com.
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.
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 get on a waiting list in the event of cancellations from the sold out event.
Retailers foresee sales increase between 3.6 and 4 percent
This year’s holiday sales could increase up to 4 percent, according to projections by the National Retail Federation.
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz listed several factors for his projection:
- Christmas falls one more day after Thanksgiving this year compared to last year, on a Monday. This will allow shoppers an additional weekend to complete their shopping lists.
- The economy is showing steady momentum due to job creation, improved wages, low inflation and increased net worth for many consumers.
- Due to the uncertain impact of this year’s hurricanes, NRF’s forecast this year is between a range of a 3.6 percent sales increase to a 4 percent increase.
If actual sales match this year’s prediction, they would match or exceed last year’s 3.6 percent holiday sales increase. The five-year holiday sales increase average is 3.5 percent.
“Consumers continue to do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy, and all the fundamentals are aligned for them to continue doing so during the holidays,” Kleinhenz said. Click here for further details.
Health insurance premiums increasing 24 percent in state health care exchange
Health insurance premiums for next year are increasing 24 percent in the state’s Health Benefit Exchange, the largest increase since it opened in 2013.
In a Washington Policy Center blog, Dr. Roger Stark explained the reasons given for the surprising size of the increase:
- The current uncertainty of Congressional health care reform. Several efforts to repeal the federal Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) have failed this year.
- The uncertainty of future cost-reduction subsidies.
- The uncertainty of the enforcement of the individual mandate to buy health insurance.
Stark, the center’s health care policy analyst, is a frequent critic of the federal Affordable Health Care Act that established health care exchanges in various states including Washington. He has called for repeal and replacement of the law.
Stark wrote that insurers must keep increasing rates because not enough younger and healthier customers are signing up for coverage to offset the costs of older, less healthy enrollees. He predicted that more carriers will continue to bail out of exchanges. Coverage choices for customers already have been decreasing in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, Stark wrote. Read his blog here.
“Shake Out” earthquake drill is in two weeks
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
After hearing complaints from voters, the state Senate has begun investigating Sound Transit’s ST 3 vehicle excise tax that has begun showing up in motorists’ vehicle registration fees.
In the latest issue of The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, writer TJ Martinell reports on a recent hearing before the Senate Law and Justice Committee regarding a ballot item the Legislature approved in 2015.
In short, legislators disagree about whether the ballot language and the justification for the tax request was misleading or constitutional. Though the article represented the meeting as an investigation, it notes that it is uncertain what, if any, action the Legislature might take.
How do coupons affect tax on a sale?
In answer to an inquiring consumer, the state Department of Revenue explained how different coupons affect the sales tax you should pay for a purchase.
Let’s say you have a $2 discount coupon issued by a store for lipstick priced at $8.99 retail. If you purchase the item at the same store that issued the coupon, you should be charged sales tax on the discounted price of $6.99.
However, if the $2 discount coupon was issued by a third party, such as the product manufacturer, you should be charged sales tax on the pre-coupon price of $8.99.
This is because the retailer is compensated by the manufacturer for the $2 coupon. In effect, the retailer is compensated for the full sales price of $8.99. There is no such compensation for the retailer when the coupon comes from the retailer. In that case, the store is taking a lesser amount for the item.
If you have any questions, please call the Department of Revenue at 1-800-647-7706.
Safety tip of the week:
Monitor your first aid kit
Companies often overlook keeping a fully-stocked first aid kit. Band-aids seem to go first but there might other supplies disappearing quicker than you think. Put a regular reminder in your calendar to make sure that your first aid kit is filled and ready when you most need it.
Make sure first-aid supplies at your workplace are appropriate to:
- Your occupational setting. Some of you would be OK with an off the shelf kit, while the auto group should look at something a bit more robust with items that better fit what might happen at their operation.
- The response time of your emergency medical services. Rick Means, WRA’s Safety specialist, recommends getting a larger kit if it takes more than 10 minutes for EMT/EMS to arrive.
- That you have at least one kit per 15 employees.
Make sure that first-aid supplies are:
- Easily accessible to all your employees.
- Stored in containers that protect them from damage, deterioration, or contamination. Containers must be clearly marked, not locked, and may be sealed.
- Able to be moved to the location of an injured or acutely ill worker.
Also remember that if you are over five minutes from EMT/EMS service to your store, you need to have at least one employee trained in first aid while others are at work.
To assist in creating a kit, a checklist for WRA members can be found in RASI Safety Library in the forms section in the left margin.
Rick Means 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 email@example.com.
Layoffs result from the lack of a state construction budget
Layoffs of state workers have begun to result from the Legislature’s failure to adopt a 2017 capital construction budget earlier this year.
The News Tribune reports layoffs in the Parks, Fish and Wildlife and Enterprise Services departments and quotes officials predicting more could be on the way.
The capital budget includes funds for construction of schools and mental health facilities, the article reports. It also pays salaries of state workers.
Legislators linked a vote on the capital budget to a pending impasse on preserving state water supplies stemming from a 2016 state Supreme Court ruling. Regulations that resulted have halted construction projects around the state. It is currently unclear how the Legislature will address the water rights and capital budget issues.
Click here to read the article.
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.