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WIN Articles for September 6, 2017

Hetrick named Washington Retail Association COOthet

Tammie Hetrick, who joined the Washington Retail Association in 1999, has been named Chief Operating Officer of the organization. Her promotion is effective this month.

As Senior Vice President of Retail Services, Hetrick presided over WRA’s Retail Association Services subsidiary that manages workers compensation claims and various services for WRA members. Membership in WRA’s Retrospective Rating insurance program has grown twentyfold under Hetrick’s leadership.

As COO, Tammie will work with incoming WRA President/CEO Renée Sunde in supporting the organization’s vision and mission established by the WRA Board of Directors and top management.  Sunde will succeed Jan Teague, who will be retiring at the end of the year after leading WRA through a steady growth period spanning the past 19 years.

“I’m looking forward to working with our new CEO and continuing to support our team of employees in this transition,” Hetrick said.

Besides overseeing and supporting the work of WRA’s entire staff, Hetrick will continue her lobbying duties and management of labor and workers’ compensation cases. She will also remain active in the crucial rulemaking phase after the Legislature passes bills into law.

Heading forward, Hetrick said she will focus on assuming more growth and direction over the Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle, WRA’s newest initiative of organizing Seattle retailers to better prepare for future regulatory moves by the City Council.


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.


State should adopt back-to-school sales tax holiday

By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

As school starts again this week, parents have been shopping for clothes and school supplies. Teachers, too, have been shopping for classroom supplies, often out of their own pockets.

It would be great if our state adopted a back-to-school sales tax holiday as several other states have done. It would apply to clothes and supplies related to school.

Many other states allow their citizens to shop sales tax free one weekend out of the summer, usually in August.  The states are giving the working families with school age children a break.  They are also recognizing that many teachers have to foot the bill for many of their classroom supplies.  Many teachers struggle to find extra income to meet such expenses.

Back-to-school shopping has been and is becoming more so expensive for families.  These days, fancy calculators and laptop computers have become normal equipment in addition to clothing, pens and paper. Costs are compounded in families with more than one child.

WRA will continue to advocate for a sales tax holiday for back-to-school clothes and supplies on behalf of the hard-working middle and low income Washingtonians and our most important and valued educators.  They deserve a break.  Let’s give this proven tax break for our citizens a try in 2018.  I predict it will be wildly successful and popular.


NRF urges retailers to complete survey on overtime rules

The National Retail Federation is asking members to complete an anonymous survey in response to the Department of Labor’s recent request related to federal rules regarding overtime pay.

The survey must be completed by next week Tuesday, September 12. Click here to complete the survey.

Last week, the Department of Labor asked for public comment on efforts to change current rules that apply to overtime. Last year, a Texas judge put a temporary hold on an Obama administration move to greatly expand eligibility for overtime.

Retailers nationwide worried the new rule was too expensive and threatened their livelihoods, so they started legal action. The Trump administration has begun taking steps to change the rule so it is less financially burdensome on employers.

Obama proposed expanding overtime eligibility for about 4.2 million salaried employees. The Texas court ruled that the Labor Department had overstepped its authority and imposed a temporary injunction blocking the rule.


Grace Ritter is the new King County retail crime prosecutor

Grace Ritter

Grace Ritter

Deputy King County prosecutor Grace Ritter is the new head of the department’s organized retail crime (ORC) unit. She replaces Andy Hamilton who retired earlier this year.

Ritter joined the King County Prosecutor’s Office in 2007 and has been a negotiator in the department’s economic crime unit.

Ritter already has attended a meeting of the Washington State Organized Retail Crime Alliance, including the membership of Mark Johnson, WRA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. She hailed a new state law that allows prosecutors to accumulate store thefts from several store locations to build stronger cases against robbery suspects.

Ritter praised the work of Hamilton, the first head of the ORC unit, but said she’s always open to finding new and better ways to prosecute organized retail crime. Her office cooperates with surrounding counties on retail crime investigations and prosecution.

“I’m always looking for how to improve things,” she said. “I welcome questions, comments and concerns. I really look upon this assignment as building a partnership with retailers.”

Ritter can be contacted at 206-477-6969 or grace.ritter@kingcounty.gov.


Seattle issues guidelines for labor law investigations, record keeping

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has issued guidelines on record-keeping and investigations related to a series of labor laws the City Council has passed in the past several months.

The laws are related to the minimum wage, wage theft, scheduling, paid sick and safe time, and fair chance employment.

In its guide to labor standards investigations, OLS make several key points:

  • A retailer has the right to ask for more time to respond to questions about alleged legal violations.
  • An investigator can request additional records during a site visit after notifying the retailer of an investigation by mail.
  • An investigator may take up to two months to review records and statements taken from employees.
  • OLS works to close all investigations within 180 days. It warns that some investigations can remain pending for a year or longer.
  • Appeals of findings are allowed.

In its guide to record keeping, OLS makes points specific to each of the labor laws cited above. It stresses that records for each employee related to a specific law must be maintained for a period of three years.

If you have questions about the laws or the city’s guidelines, contact either Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer, at 360-200-6452 or tammie@retailassociation.org. You also may contact WRA’s Seattle Director John Engber at 206-850-5517 or john.engber@retailassociation.org.


WRA attends meeting on statewide paid sick leave program

By Tammie Hetrick, Chief Operating Officer

 I attended a meeting this week to work with Labor and Industries on the enforcement rules for the statewide sick and safe leave program set to begin in January 2018.

L&I has already settled on general rules for operation of the program approved with the passage of Initiative 1433.

Rules are still pending for how enforcement will work. I expect to see a draft ready for review within the next few weeks. I will distribute a draft to members shortly after it becomes available.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments about the rulemaking process for paid sick leave, please contact me at 360-200-6452 or tammie@retailassociation.org.


The McCleary school funding debate is not over

The Washington Research Council is reporting that plaintiffs in the state’s McCleary school funding case remain dissatisfied and think the Legislature failed to fully fund schools in the 2017 session. The Legislature has until the fall of next year to meet the funding mandate set forth by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary court case.

In a blog update, the Research Council quotes the plaintiffs as alleging that extra school funds approved by the Legislature last session still fail to meet actual district costs. Many state legislators disagree.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on whether the state has met its obligation is pending. The Legislature approved an additional $4.6 billion in school spending in the 2017 session.

In a separate blog update, the Washington Policy Center cites data that concludes that additional spending for schools does not improve student learning. The blog notes that despite a 34 percent increase in state school spending from 2011 to 2017, the number of state-rated failing schools increased from 168 to 365 schools.

Ultimately, the pending Supreme Court ruling will do much to clear up how the debate about the school funding proceeds and whether funding schools could again dominate debate in the 2018 session.

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 webinar will cover free L&I consultation service

 WRA has scheduled a free webinar at 10 a.m, September 13 that will cover a Labor & Industries program to teach employers how to improve safety programs and reduce on-the-job injuries.

Teri Neely, L&I’s Consultation Operations Manager, will conduct the 45-minute webinar.

The webinar will show employers how to strengthen their safety programs and remain in compliance with state safety requirements. Doing so can reduce workplace injuries and better control workers’ compensation insurance premiums for the employer and employees.

Register here.


Safety tip of the week:

Your safety bulletin board

The Washington Code publishes basic requirements for what should be on your company bulletin board.

You must:

  • Install and maintain a safety bulletin board in every fixed workplace that has eight or more employees. Make sure the bulletin board is large enough to post information such as:

–       Safety bulletins

–       Safety newsletters

–       Safety posters

–       Accident statistics (OSHA 300A form)

–       Other safety educational material

WRA sends out a monthly safety packet including items to go on your safety bulletin board.  Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, suggests that your Safety Meeting notes also be posted there.  Remember Labor and Industries requires that you keep 12 of the last safety meetings’ notes on hand for review by employees.

Members can find past issues of the RASI SAFETY Meetings archive here.

WRA employs Rick in part, to help members remain in compliance with L&I safety requirements. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 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 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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