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WIN Articles for September 27, 2017

Reflections on politics

By Jan Teague, President/CEO

As I turn my last corner of work, I keep thinking about my time here at the association for the last 19 years.  It has been an incremental journey with many people in the retail industry.  I recently got an email from a Board member I haven’t seen for nine years.  He told me to remember all of those good times.  So I started doing that and it quickly became about the people I worked with.  They made my memories, they made all the good times.

I can see their faces as we talked about a worrisome new law, I can hear their testimony as they tried to tell the legislature what it would mean to their business.  I went to so many candidate fundraisers over the years.  Each new candidate wanted to change the way things worked.  Each incumbent candidate wanted to be sure I knew what important things they had done to protect us from harm.

But when I think about your association’s role in all of this, I see a deeper effort going on.  It is each company helping us to become experts on their company, each retail owner willing to spend their hard earned cash coming to town to talk to legislators, or taking time out of their work day to participate in critical discussions about issues that affect every retailer in the state.  These are great memories.  I can’t thank you all enough for all the time you gave the association.  That is our true mark on history.  It is your thoughts, your time, and your commitment to a vision of a strong industry moving forward.

Can any one moment define a career of 19 years?  No.  It’s the entire time that defines the career.  It’s the worries and the victories.  It’s the defeats and the getting back on your feet to start a new challenge.

I have always said and often proved to members that we are here for you.  We need to know what you experience to know what we can do to help.  We have proved we can do that.  We have brought agency staff to your place of business to talk through your problems, we have formed special work groups to tackle poor rules that threaten the very existence of your businesses.  It’s work that I am very proud to have led.

Do I have worries as I leave this job?  Yes.  I think the retail industry will see more and more policy hitting it at the local level.  The association has always had a mission that includes advocacy at the local, state, and national level. But all retail associations struggle to be able to fund a good defense against bad policy at the local level.

Your association has struggled with local politics, too.  Seattle is the best example with their labor laws mounting new costs and new rules on retailers each year.  I read yesterday that the city has 23 employees now regulating these new laws and is moving into a bigger space.  As they fine retailers, work to create more rules, and go out to brag about their programs,  I know that this will spread to other cities.

This is my biggest worry.  We need a stronger voice at the local level.  That is the future for retail advocacy.  It will be more complex for us to handle.  What I know is how hard it is to buck the tide of consumer sentiment.  You can’t do it and keep selling to those same consumers.  They organize, they picket, they threaten you in the media.  It’s a challenge that is fierce and takes courage.

We are working to figure it out though.  In the weeks and months to come, you will hear more about our efforts.  This past year, your Board of Directors took over $100,000 out of your association’s savings to put together a program in Seattle.  We need to continue the work there but can’t keep drawing on savings.  We will be asking for a dues increase.

I never thought I would ever ask for a dues increase.  In 19 years, we have had only one time that I asked for one.  We have had enough membership growth to cover our program costs.  But the time has come.  You will be getting a letter soon that gives you an idea of what your increase will be. I am hoping that you can fund the work ahead.  In the long term, it will be important.  It is an investment in your future and in the stability of the retail industry.

With that being said, I will write only a few more stories for the WIN newsletter. Your new CEO, Renée Sunde, will be taking over the helm effective October 16th.  This week I am taking a few days in Las Vegas with my husband.  I am looking forward to retirement, but it will be hard to leave a political career that extends 33 years in the making.  But they are memories I will never forget.


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


Mark Johnson (right) and Jim Szymanski of WRA meet with State Senate candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund.

Mark Johnson (right) and Jim Szymanski of WRA meet with State Senate candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund.

WRA endorses and donates to Englund’s campaign for State Senate      

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

 I had the pleasure last week to meet Jinyoung Lee Englund, candidate for the State Senate in the 45th Legislative District.  She is running for the open seat in a special election.  WRA Communications Director Jim Szymanski and I presented her with a full contribution of $1,000 from our Retail Action Council Political Action Committee that voted to endorse and donate to her campaign.

Ms. Englund has extensive political and practical experience having worked for several members of the U.S. Congress and the Secretary of the Department of Transportation.  She is a graduate of the University of Washington.  Her top three priorities when elected will be preventing unnecessary tax adoption such as a capital gains or income tax, making our transportation system work more efficiently – including addressing the expensive car tab issue, and improving our education system.

WRA is excited about having Jinyoung Lee Englund join the State Senate.  She will be a true ally and champion for the retail industry.

If you live in Englund’s district encompassing Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, Sammamish and Duvall, we encourage you to help with her campaign and display one of her signs.  Learn more about how you can help at www.jinyoungenglund.com.


Dino Rossi

Dino Rossi

Dino Rossi will run for retiring Rep. Reichert’s Congressional seat

 Former state legislator Dino Rossi has declared his candidacy in the 2018 election to succeed retiring U.S. Representative Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional district.

Rossi, 57, served in the state Senate from 1997 through 2003 including serving as the Senate’s chief Republican state budget writer. He announced his latest campaign on Facebook and at an annual Republican dinner last week.

Last year, Rossi took an appointment in the state Legislature to fill out the term of the late state Sen. Andy Hill, who died on lung cancer while in office.

In his Facebook post, Rossi mentioned a number of Congressional challenges including reducing the federal deficit, simplifying the federal tax code and reforming health care.


Carolyn Eslick

Carolyn Eslick

Legislator chosen to succeed resigned state Rep., John Koster

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick has been chosen to succeed state Rep. John Koster, who resigned his 39th District seat in August to take another job.

Eslick, a Republican like Koster, will serve out his remaining term through the end of next year. She told The Everett Herald that she would resign as Mayor of Sultan.

She was appointed by elected officials from Skagit, King and Snohomish counties because the 39th District takes in parts of those three counties. Visit the Everett Herald to read more on the succession.


WRA reserves judgment on announced decrease in 2018 workers’ comp insurance rates

By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operator Officer

 I met this week with the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee on which I serve to discuss Labor & Industries’ plan to reduce average insurance rates by 2.5 percent in 2018. It would be the first rate decrease since 2007.

While this would be welcome news, I am waiting to review proposals for individual risk classes before celebrating.

In reviewing preliminary data, while medical and accident costs are down, the supplemental pension fund has experienced a 7.3 percent increase in costs.

It’s important to note that L&I’s proposed 2018 rates are averages. We need more time to determine how rising pension costs could impact average rates for retailers next year.

Meanwhile, WRA is preparing an online rate calculator that we will release shortly so that members can estimate their workers’ comp insurance costs for 2018.

In its announcement, L&I attributed its proposed rate cut to employers and workers focusing more on safety; programs to speed injured workers’ return to work; and an improved economy that has allowed L&I to build up its cash reserves.

L&I will conduct public hearings where people can comment on the proposed rates. Click here for more information on the hearings to be held from October 24 through November 1.  If you have questions about your rates or how they’re determined, contact me at 360-200-6452 or tammie@retailassociation.org.


Committee reviews rulemaking for paid family and medical leave

By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer

 An advisory committee on which I serve this week reviewed Employment Security’s rulemaking schedule to implement a paid family and medical leave program statewide.

ESD reports it will accomplish rulemaking in a phased effort consisting of five parts. It will begin on October 17 through January 18 addressing premium liability and voluntary plans.

The other announced rulemaking phases include:

  • Premium calculation and premium payments, from Dec. 17 to March 18.
  • Premium reporting requirements, from February 2018 to May 18.
  • Collections and premium appeals, from April 2018 to July 18.
  • Miscellaneous, including remedies, from June 2018 to September 18.

Deductions for the program are scheduled to start in January 2019. Benefit payments would start in January 2020.

In a related development, Employment Security announced it had assigned Cami Feek to be the Director of the Paid Family Leave & Medical Leave program. Feek has been serving as Director of Operations for state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

I am keeping a close eye on how rulemaking proceeds because it determines the final way the program will work. 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 tammie@retailassociation.org.


Enterprise Washington names new interim campaign manager

Jeff Harvey has been named interim campaign manager of Enterprise Washington.

Harvey joins the Bellevue-based organization from Washington, D.C.-based Peak Advocacy, where he advised candidates on policy issues. Harvey has spent nearly two decades working on local, state and federal campaigns. He has served as Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert.

“We are pleased to have Jeff join Enterprise Washington,” said Patti Case, Chair of the Enterprise Washington Board of Directors. “Jeff comes with an extensive political and policy background that will be an asset to our organization.  His experience ensures Enterprise Washington’s continued strength going forward.”

Harvey has worked on multiple campaigns throughout the nation including campaign manager and chief strategist to Congressman Dave Reichert’s 2010 – 2016 congressional races.  In 2011 Harvey worked in Wisconsin during the historic State Senate recall races.  Harvey has worked on dozens of campaigns from presidential to gubernatorial and from federal to local.

Harvey has dealt with issue advocacy, voter targeting, crisis management and media relations.  During his time as Chief of Staff, Harvey was involved in tax reform discussions, free trade agreements, and advised on multiple policy matters that affected Washington State and the nation.

A native Washingtonian, Harvey attended Bellevue Community College and Seattle University where he studied Political Science. Enterprise Washington is a non-partisan data research organization for associations interested in electing and retaining business-friendly candidates.


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.


WRA Board member Deborah Herron of Walmart (center) participates at a hiring event last week in Everett.

WRA Board member Deborah Herron of Walmart (center) participates at a hiring event last week in Everett.

WRA attends Snohomish retail hiring event

As part of Careers in Retail Month, WRA representatives attended a retail hiring event in Everett last week.

More than two dozen major employers sent representatives to the event to share advice for job seekers on obtaining interviews and job offers in retail.

Gov. Inslee has proclaimed September as Careers in Retail Month, in recognition that retailers do significant hiring starting this month in preparation for the holiday shopping season. September also marks the debut of a new state website focused on retail hiring across the state. Employment Security designed the site in cooperation with WRA.

Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications Director Jim Szymanski attended on behalf of WRA. WRA board member Deborah Herron of Walmart participated in a panel discussion between companies looking to hire and job applicants.

Companies also taking part in the panel discussion included Bartell Drugs, Ben Bridge Jewelers, Safeway/Albertsons, Walgreens, Comcast and Frito-Lay.

Panelists shared several tips for job seekers, including warning against the mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of getting called to interviews.

The advice included:

  • Doing research about a company before coming to an interview.
  • Calling back within 48 hours after an interview to express continued interest in a job opening.
  • Smiling during an introduction and during the interview.
  • Be on time for an interview unless you have an understandable excuse.
  • Be willing to learn new skills if a job requires it.
  • If you’re hired, seek out training programs to help create chances for a promotion.

If you’re applying online, show initiative and call the company to follow up on your application. Don’t wait for someone to call you.


Walla Walla paper weighs in on sales tax fairness

 The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin is the latest Washington State newspaper to urge Congress to approve legislation requiring out-of-state online retailers to collect and share sales taxes.

Collection of owed sales taxes would be beneficial to help states fund necessary services such as schools. Retailers long have been working nationally by encouraging Congress to make sales tax collection a requirement of online retailers who sell to customers in a state other than where the seller is based.

Bills are pending in Congress to reform national sales tax collection. Like many retailers nationally, WRA believes many online sellers get nearly a 10 percent price advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers by declining to collect sales taxes. Such a price advantage threatens the livelihoods of brick-and-mortar retailers across the nation.

Click here to read the editorial.


Safety tip of the week:

“Shake Out” earthquake drill in a few 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 rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.


lensCourt decision could result in higher real estate taxes

Legislators and the building industry are calling upon the state Legislature to address possible negative financial fallout from a 2016 state Supreme Court decision.

Fallout from the Whatcom County v. Eric Hirst case, related to well water usage, halted housing development in rural areas of the state. Lost tax revenues from reduced construction could result in increased real estate taxes, warns an economic impact study by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). Increased property expenses and increased expenses, in general, have a direct bearing on retail sales and consumer buying capacity.

The Legislature debated this issue during the 2017 session but failed to come to a decision. Here also is a Washington Policy Center blog related to this issue.

The Lens, the online news source of the Business Institute of Washington, explored this issue in a recent article. Click here to read the story.


Everett paper reports on use of drug to revive opioid overdoses

Two weeks ago, Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer, reported from a national conference she attended about how police were urging retail loss prevention officers to obtain training on the use of a new drug to revive opioid overdoses.

A recent Everett Herald article reported on Snohomish County’s experience where police have used the drug, naloxone, to revive opioid overdoses. Police in Snohomish County reported they have saved 100 lives using naloxone, which goes by the trade name Narcan.

Click here to read the article.


Free business fair is this week

 Anyone interested in learning how to start and run a business should consider attending a free business fair set for this Saturday 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 at www.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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