Newsletter August 11, 2022









WR signs on to coalition letter in opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act

In an urgent letter to members of the Senate last week, WR and other associations joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in making it known we do not support the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill passed the Senate on Sunday with 50 votes along party lines, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The bill will be considered by the House tomorrow, August 12.

Although the bill is called the Inflation Reduction Act, the sweeping bill would effectuate the most significant climate investment in our country’s history, make major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extend expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation includes a 15% minimum tax on large corporations, a 1% tax on stock buybacks, and would boost the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect. The additional taxes are purposed to help pay down the nation’s debt.

The letter details the coalition’s concerns about the bill, including:

  • The legislation would impose significant new tax increases and unprecedented government price controls that would deter investment, inhibit innovation, and undermine economic growth.
  • Despite rebranding the legislation as the “Inflation Reduction Act,” the bill could increase inflation in the short term and would not reduce inflation over the long term, according to multiple analyses.
  • The net effect of the Book Minimum Tax would be less capital investment, making America poorer and reducing future economic growth.
  • The excise tax on stock buybacks would only distort the efficient movement of capital to where it can be put to best use and diminish the value of Americans’ retirement savings.
  • Price controls on pharmaceuticals would significantly reduce private sector investment in new research and drug development. Analysis indicates that this could result in a loss of nearly 600,000 jobs. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that such controls would lead to 15 fewer new drugs over the next 30 years. These changes would significantly harm patients and our health care system.

Read the coalition’s letter here

Democrats host post primary fundraiser

Tuesday evening, WR Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs Mark Johnson and Director of the Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle John Engber attended the House Democratic Campaign Committee and Washington Senate Democratic Campaign joint post-primary fundraising reception in SeaTac.

The event was well attended, including Speaker of the House Laurie Jenkins, House Caucus Campaign Chairman Joe Fitzgibbon, Senate Caucus Campaign Chairman Jamie Pedersen, and Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Christine Rolfes. Several other legislators were present from around the state. Joining the event were numerous candidates for the legislature. 

Speeches included a thank you to candidates, supporters, and current and retiring members. Both Senate and House Democratic Caucuses are optimistic about their prospects for the 2022 General Election. The Senate and House, as well as the Governor’s Office, are currently controlled by the Democrats.

WR maintains two political action committees and personally attends all four caucus events – Democratic and Republican – to meet potential legislators and connect with existing members. WR and its team look forward to meeting many of the candidates for the legislature and building strong working relationships with the winners of the general election. Please contact us if you are interested in contributing or learning more about our PACS.

Seattle repeals hazard pay mandate for grocery workers

On August 2, the Seattle City Council voted 5-2 to repeal the Covid Hazard Pay ordinance that mandated an additional $4 per hour for grocery workers. The mandate was in effect for 18 months. Councilmembers Juarez, Lewis, Nelson, Pedersen, and Strauss voted for the repeal, while Councilmembers Morales and Sawant opposed it. Mayor Harrell signed the repeal on August 3, triggering the 30-day period until the mandate ends.

Many grocery workers will see their pay remain the same or even increase. A new grocery industry contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers will take effect at almost the same time as the repeal. The new contract will provide raises of $4 - $9 per hour.

Imports slowing in second half of the year, but gains are still expected

After a record-setting spring, imports at the nation’s major container ports are expected to slow significantly for the remainder of the year. However, 2022 should still see a net gain over 2021, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Retail sales are still growing, but the economy is slowing down, and that is reflected in cargo imports,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “Lower volumes may help ease congestion at some ports, but others are still seeing backups, and global supply chain challenges are far from over. Our biggest concern is the potential for disruption because of separate labor negotiations at the West Coast ports and the freight railroads. Concluding both sets of negotiations without disruption is critical as the important holiday season approaches.”

The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association expired July 1, and many retailers brought in cargo early and shifted to East and Gulf Coast ports to avoid any potential disruptions related to contract negotiations, with early shipments helping drive second-quarter volumes. The freight railroads and their union are now working with a Presidential Emergency Board to resolve their contract discussions, which have been ongoing for two years. In addition, the Port of Oakland was briefly shut down in late July amid protests by independent truckers over a new state law aimed at eliminating independent owner-operators.

Read the full NRF press release

Hiring gets easier for some employers despite hot job market

By Chip Cutter — WSJ

Some big U.S. companies say hiring is getting easier, at least by a little.

Employers in hospitality, retail, healthcare, and other industries hardest hit by worker shortages over the past two years say they are seeing emerging signs that recruiting workers—and getting them to accept jobs when offered—is becoming less of a challenge, even as the overall job market remains tight.

Corporate leaders say the job market still favors workers over employers and that challenges remain in drawing enough staff. Still, many say the worst of the hurdles appear to be over.

The economy has now made up the number of jobs lost in the aftermath of the pandemic, and demand for workers is fierce. In July, employers added 528,000 jobs, far more than expected, and the unemployment rate fell to a half-century low of 3.5%. There are indications that workers are also accepting jobs more quickly, economists say, reducing some of the burdens for companies looking to fill positions.

Companies cite varying factors in explaining hiring successes. Kroger Co. told investors in June that some employees who left to work elsewhere had returned to the grocery chain. Uber, UBER -0.28%▼ , which struggled with too few drivers to meet demand over the past year, said inflationary pressures motivated more people to drive for the service. Uber ended its latest quarter with a record number of drivers, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said last week.

Fears of a recession or inflation also appear to be keeping some workers in their existing jobs, economists and executives say, leading to a drop in turnover in some industries—another boost for companies. The rates of quitting in both hospitality and retail have fallen in recent months from peaks earlier in the pandemic, Mr. Bunker said, though they remain elevated historically.

Read the entire article

South King County mayors express frustration and demand action 

In an open letter posted on the City of Renton’s website, South King County mayors expressed frustration and demanded action as the area’s cities are facing gun violence at record numbers and residents and businesses continue to be victimized.

The letter, dated August 4, 2022, began:

“The mayors of the South King County cities of Auburn, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Pacific, Renton, and Tukwila are united in our ongoing plea to our King County and Washington state criminal justice partners to help us stem the rising tide of crime and violence in our communities.

“King County cities are seeing a disturbing rise in violent crime, as well as drug offenses and property crimes including auto thefts, burglaries, and robberies. Our community of residents, businesses, and visitors – the victims of these crimes – are fed up, and action is necessary.”

The letter points to the rise in crime coinciding with a number of events, including:

  • The passage of SB 5476 which, in answer to the Washington State Supreme Court decision in State v. Blake, prevents cities and counties from charging a person with drug possession unless the person is allowed non-mandatory self-directed drug treatment for the first two offenses. Yet, there is no incentive or consequence that encourages addicted users to get into treatment, there is an insufficient system to support the addicted, and if they wanted to get into treatment, it is unavailable or too expensive.
  • The passage of HB 1054 which, with the exception of DUI cases, made it unlawful for officers to engage in a vehicle pursuit when they have reasonable suspicion that a person in the vehicle has committed a criminal offense. Many offenders are aware of the law, and cases where offenders elude police are on the rise.

Read the full letter with Mayor Pavone’s preamble here

Safety concerns lead to temporary closure of a downtown Seattle Amazon Go store

Nick Statt / The Verge

Amazon confirmed in an email to The Puget Sound Business Journal that it has temporarily closed its Amazon Go store at 4th and Pike “for the safety of our store employees, customers, [and] third-party vendors.” The email added that Amazon hopes to reopen the store when the public safety situation improves in the neighborhood. Amazon first opened the store in 2021.

In March, Amazon announced that it was pulling its employees out of the former Macy’s building downtown, citing concern for the safety of its employees.

Retailers get ‘Phygital’ pairing in-store experiences to bring shoppers into the Metaverse

The Metaverse is an evolution of the internet, enabling us to move beyond ‘browsing’ to ‘participating and inhabiting’ in a persistent shared experience. In a webinar titled Demystifying the Metaverse Continuum for Retail, tech company Accenture said that we will soon have a spectrum of experiences available to us, which will span from our real world to an entirely virtual world, and points in between.

The Metaverse is an exploding market expected to grow to $800 billion in revenue by 2024, and users under the age of 27 make up the largest audience in the Metaverse today. This growth helps to explain an increasing number of retailers that are beginning to tap into the Metaverse as another platform to reach potential customers by offering retail experiences beyond their physical stores.

Retailers are using the Metaverse creatively and getting ‘Phygital’ to connect with shoppers and strengthen their brand loyalty. For example, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Selfridges are teaming up with fashion designer Jonathan Koon to create physical garments embedded with a redeemable NFT (non-fungible token). Users scan a QR code that takes them to Highstreet, a retail-focused world within the Metaverse where they can create an avatar and obtain a digital version of the garment they purchased in-store.

Read more.

WR members score 100 on the Disability Equality Index report

Ten employers that received a top score of 100 in the 2022 Disability Equality Index® this year are WR members, including Amazon, Best Buy, CVS Health, Experian, J.C. Penney, Kohls, Lowes, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. The Index is acknowledged as the most robust disability inclusion assessment tool in world of business.

A score of 100 is recognition that these companies adhere to many of the leading disability inclusion practices featured in the survey, including culture, leadership, and employment practices.

The Index is a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, and Disability:IN, the global business disability inclusion network, to collectively advance the inclusion of people with disabilities.

The Disability Equality Index® lists several benefits of employing those with disabilities, including:

  • Hiring talent with disabilities can help stabilize a workforce in flux. People with disabilities are an underemployed global population representing more than one billion, or 15%, of all people4.
  • People with disabilities bring unique work skills and perspectives that foster innovation, which is known to improve financial performance5.
  • People with disabilities bring a diversity of thought and ideas that benefit a company’s customers and stakeholders.
  • People with disabilities share lived experiences that contribute deeply to an inclusive work culture, which helps drive engagement and can lead to higher corporate performance metrics.
  • People with disabilities who self-report help influence workforce diversity data, corporate diversity goals, and ESG criteria.

Learn more about the Disability Equality Index

How do we encourage good safety habits in the workplace?

In our last newsletter safety article, we wrote about making safety a habit. This week, we will address how to make that happen in the workplace.

When an action has become a habit, a break from the usual routine will feel off, if not outright wrong. When habits are entrenched, we immediately notice any lapse, such as when our car is moving but we don’t feel the seatbelt pressing against our lap. Its absence serves as a reminder to buckle up. Safe habit development in the workplace can follow a similar progression.

Consistency is vital for habit formation. Even momentary lapses in routine can erode the process in the early stages of developing a habit. If a worker ventures onto the production floor to run an errand without the proper PPE for the area, thinking, “just this once, and I’ll be quick,” then skipping appropriate PPE becomes an option in their thought process. To build firmly-entrenched habits, we must enforce adherence without exception no matter what role we play in the company—especially in the early days of onboarding new employees.

How we reinforce the habits matters, too. Building a habit requires constant reminders in the early stages. A positive, proactive approach will be more effective than a reactive, negative attitude. If management cracks down on lapses after the fact, it’s already too late. Consistency—not correction—turns the action into a habit.1

Routine safety habits will yield greater situational awareness throughout the workday.

Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or


1. Page-Bottorff, T. (2016). The Habit of Safety: Forming, Changing and Reinforcing Key Safety Behaviors. Professional Safety, (February 2016), 42-43.

Better workplace wellness can equal much more than just healthy employees

Cancer impacts us all, including our fellow workers. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), approximately 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer in their lifetime. How many will include those we work with every day? Retail employers and their employees' wellness initiatives can be part of the solution, contributing to ACS’s ongoing work to help decrease cancer incidence and death rates.

If you would like to learn more about the positive impacts of health and wellness programs in the workplace, use this link to request a free download of additional information.

WR diversity statement

WR is committed to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We strive to create a safe, welcoming environment in which these principles can thrive.

We value all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or disability, and that is the foundation of our commitment to those we serve.

Washington Retail Staff

Renée Sunde




Rose Gundersen

VP of Operations

& Retail Services



Mark Johnson

Senior VP of Policy,

Government Affairs



Robert B. Haase

Director of




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