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WIN Articles for September 13, 2017

Pulitzer journalist Eugene Robinson addresses the Council of State Retail Associations’ conference

Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson

By Jan Teague, President/CEO
Your WRA leadership team is in Portland this week at the annual conference for retail executives and company representatives.  Eugene Robinson opened the event with his opinion on the future of the Trump presidency and the survival of the current party structure.
Pulitzer Prize winner Robinson, a columnist and associate editor at The Washington Post, has never had a lot of positive things to write about Trump but he holds out hope for Trump’s “unhinged approach” to get something done.  He cited the recent debt ceiling extension that included aid for the victims of the past week’s hurricanes. Trump had to put that together working with the Democrats instead of his Republican leaders.  His approval rating immediately jumped 4 points, a significant jump for any president.Trump also got positive press that hasn’t happened since he got into office.  Robinson said that Trump will notice this and surely take it into account for his future deals. Trump wants to complete his agenda but it will need to include the Democrats.  He may very well be able to work with moderate Republicans and the Democrats to move his agenda.
Robinson is pondering a shift in the parties and their values.  The left/right spectrum may no longer work.  Parties may have to adjust how they think about their values in order to get things done.  He sees a glimmer of light and the potential that this was a political breakthrough.
This was my final Council of State Retail Associations’ conference.  I said my goodbyes to those I have worked with over the past nineteen years and was recognized at a dinner held at the Portland Art Museum.
It was nice that the incoming WRA President/CEO Renée Sunde and her husband, Dan, came to the event.  Both Mark Johnson and Tammie Hetrick told the group what it was like working with me.  All good stories, of course!

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.orgor give her a call at 360-943-9198 ext. 19.

Businesses rally to help Houston, Florida recover from hurricanes

 

A convoy of trucks brings one million bottles of water to Florida from Home Depot.

A convoy of trucks brings one million bottles of water to Florida from Home Depot.

Ever since hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the Houston area and the State of Florida, respectively,  retailers have been involved in round-the-clock efforts to reopen their stores and donate funds and the time of employees to help the needy recover and restore their lives as soon as possible.
Companies including Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Starbucks and Google are among the response group assisting flood victims and first responders.
Walmart has been posting regular updates on its Walmart Today blog. Employees have been volunteering to gather and send supplies where they are needed most. The company has pledged $30 million in relief efforts including support of Red Cross Shelters and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of the Greater Houston Community Foundation. Among other efforts, more than 100 Walmart employees have been staffing a round-the-clock Emergency Operations Center to coordinate relief efforts throughout the country.
Home Depot has announced $2 million in hurricane relief this season. The company sent a convoy of trucks to Florida bringing one million bottles of water,  plywood and other disaster relief supplies.
Celebrities and sports stars also have been moved to help by making donations and raising funds. Actress Sandra Bullock had donated $1 million to help flood victims while Houston Texans football star J.J. Watt has helped generate millions of dollars for the Houston Flood Relief Fund.
Here is additional relief information supplied by other retailers:
  • Sears has teamed up with the American Red Cross to help raise funds to support needy families. Kmart and Sears stores are accepting donations at checkout. Look here for more information.
  • REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke has issued this message to employees outlining how the company is helping with relief and its further plans.
  • 7-Eleven stores has pledged $150,000 in relief to the American Red Cross and has donated 4,800 cases of water for free distribution in Florida. The company also is encouraging customers to financially support American Red Cross relief efforts. Read more here.
  • Owners of Everett Mall are matching all relief contributions from employees. General Manager Glen Bachman and his wife donated to Walmart, which is matching donations.
  • Amazon and Whole Foods announced a $1 million match for donations made via Amazon to the American Red Cross. The company also is pulling critically-needed items from its inventory  to donate to first responders.

 

Ed Murray resigns today as Seattle Mayor

Ed Murray

Ed Murray

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Tuesday announced he would be resigning, effective today.
Murray’s decision followed a sexual abuse accusation by a fifth man, Murray’s cousin. Murray is openly gay and married to a Seattle city official.
City Councilmember Bruce Harrell will become mayor and will decide within a matter of days whether to fill out the remainder of Murray’s term at the end of this year. Murray has repeatedly denied that he sexually abused any of his accusers.
In resigning, Murray said he felt it was necessary so that the city and its employees could fulfill the public’s business without the distraction of the allegations against him.
Read a Seattle Times account of the development.

WRA moderates, addresses meeting about mandated family leave

By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer
I have been at the Council of State Retail Associations’ National Conference in Portland this week and spoke during a breakout session on Paid Family Leave negotiations in Washington State.
Many other states don’t face the same challenges we do with progressive labor interests that push us to negotiate programs that impact employers’ bottom lines and cause huge employee deficiencies.
We had a great discussion around Family Leave and important components of Washington State’s final bill.  I expressed the important role our members shared in providing detailed feedback on how the programs work for them in other states and what can be done better.  Washington has set a precedent that is impacting other states and it is important that they understand the political climate that moved the state to resolve a very controversial issue.
I anticipate more labor issues in the upcoming 2018 Legislative session and we will be working through some very difficult decisions again, the best way to protect retailers and be sure they can remain in business.  I have sent a notice out to members asking them if they want to participate on my HR Labor Group.
If you are a member and did not receive a request to participate and are interested, please contact jessica@retailassociation.org.

WRA moderates panel on mandatory sick and safe leave

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
 
I led a panel discussion this week on the state’s mandatory paid sick and safe leave policy during the annual meeting of the Council of State Retail Associations’ executives in Portland.
A national conference such as CSRA is an ideal venue to alert other states about what Washington voters approved when Initiative 1433 was on the ballot. The potential financial burdens on small businesses are great if they do not plan ahead for possible employee absences for a host of possible reasons.
The initiative also will raise the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020. It increased from $9.47 an hour to $11 in January. These additional costs hit hardest in rural retail markets where business volume may be too low to compensate for the higher expenses business owners face. This erodes local economies when business owners are forced to lay off workersor put off hiring to meet the additional operating costs.
Employees can claim paid sick leave starting in 2018 at the rate of one hour granted for every 40 hours worked.
Any declines in service as a result of layoffs or postponed hiring further threaten business and the livelihoods of stores.
WRA was part of a business coalition that unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the initiative in Superior Court. The coalition included the Washington Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Please contact me with questions about the policy at 360-943-0667 or mark.johnson@retailassociation.org.

WRA debuts new retail hiring website

Governor declares Careers in Retail Month
 
WRA this week debuted a new free website to help connect retailers to qualified job applicants. The state Employment Security Department developed the site with support from WRA’s Communications Director, Jim Szymanski and WorkSource Snohomish.
You can access the site by clicking on the yellow WorkSource logo on WRA’s website, www.retailassociation.org. Once there, there are options for retailers to list an unlimited number of job openings for free and for applicants to explore those openings, also for free. The site also includes information on assistance that is available from WorkSource offices across the state to help in the vetting of interested job candidates.
Beginning this year, WorkSource will team with WRA and its members to recruit talent for the holiday hiring season. An Employment Security department media release this week projects that 12,900 retail jobs will be available statewide this holiday shopping season. There are expected to be 1,341 more jobs available at general merchandise and clothing stores this year compared to the same time last, according to ESD projections.
In conjunction with this venture, Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation declaring September as Careers in Retail Month. September is traditionally the beginning of the holiday hiring season for retailers.
Not only are all WorkSource services free. The retail spotlight website provides information on employment tracks, potential wages, training and testimonials from people who work in retail.
Applicants can access hiring events across the state under the Careers Resources tab on WorkSourceWA.com.

Police urge use of drug to reverse opioid overdoses

Police are urging retail loss prevention officers to consider acquiring a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses.
USA Today carried an article about the drug, naloxone, (trade name,Narcan) that police use on victims before paramedics arrive on scene.
WRA’s Chief Operating Officer, Tammie Hetrick, attended a presentation this week by an Organized Retail Crime panel at the annual meeting of the Council of State Retail Associations. Panelists urged retail loss prevention officers to consider acquiring the drug for possible use with shoppers or store employees.
There are specific safety precautions to use in handling an emergency overdose situation, including the use of protective gloves and avoiding inhalation of opioids. More safety advice is available here and here.
Sources include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

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.

Tacoma plan commission takes comments on Port of Tacoma industrial uses

 
The Tacoma Planning Commission is holding a hearing tonight regarding proposed industrial use limitations at the Port of Tacoma.
The 6 p.m. hearing is at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, 1500 Commerce Street. Written comments from the public can be sent by Friday of this week to planning@cityoftacoma.org.
The News Tribune has reported on possible impacts from the proposals. Port neighbors and environmentalists have been opposing plans to build methanol and liquified natural gas plants at the port. The public can submit written comments here.
Click here for more background on the issue.

Safety tip of the week:

Adjustable work tables can prevent injuries
As we age, we lose muscle mass that in turn reduces the strength we once had when we were 25 years old. Heavy lifting, lower awkward body positions and static postures are all risk factors for workplace injuries.
Being able to bring the work to the ‘power zone’, between your knees and shoulders, is always best.  For older workers that zone is a bit tighter and more at waist height.
Having the ability to bring the work higher and closer to waist level is preferred.  As a result, productivity can be increased and worker fatigue is reduced.  Some tools that may assist would be:
  • Pallet jacks that have the ability to also lift off the floor a couple of feet.
  • Work benches that can be raised to better fit the employee’s natural working level.
  • A Lazy Susan turntable, allowing you to rotate the work with less potential for overreaching.
  • Any addition of other mechanical assists to help with lifting, pulling, gripping and opening can help worker productivity.
These mechanical aids can help the aging workforce and younger employees, too, to reduce the time spent with material handling and reduce the potential for overexertion injuries.
If you work at a computer, there are solutions where a workstation table can rise to standing height or back down to sitting height that will allow you to adjust your work posture throughout the day.  Every change is the opportunity to get out of that ‘static posture’ and give your body a break.
You can find more information on this topic right here.
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 rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Save the date for a free business fair

 
Anyone interested in learning how to start and run a business should consider attended a free business fair set for September 30 at Renton Technical College.
WRA has been a regular attendee at the fair, now in its 20th year.
The fair is a collection of helpful seminars and information booths to help entrepreneurs learn how to start and grow a business while remaining mindful of the potential pitfalls and regulatory requirements to operate legally and successfully.
 
Visit www.bizfair.org for more information or visit Facebook atwww.facebook.com/bizfair.

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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