Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Updated Tacoma Required Minimum Paid Leave Ordinance Available

Last week we posted a reminder that the Tacoma City Council would be considering whether or not to require businesses operating within city limits to provide a minimum amount of paid leave to all employees.  Well, it took a marathon Tacoma City Council Meeting (3 hours & 59 minutes exactly), where the Council heard from about 40 members of the public on the issue of paid leave.  The vast majority of the speakers supported Mayor Strickland's move forward on this ordinance, but nearly everyone was interested in some modification of the proposal.  Suggestions ranged from making the program voluntary to increasing the mandate to more than 2 weeks of paid time off.

When it came time for councilmembers to share their thoughts, they too had widely differing opinions on the issue.  In the end, there seemed to be consensus among councilmembers that a required paid leave policy for businesses is better suited to state or federal government implementation, thus minimizing issues of borders, competitive disadvantages between cities, and vastly differing rules within a region.

Both Mayor Strickland and Councilmember Mello had proposed amendments to the ordinance.  The amendments and votes were as follows [Councilmember Boe had to leave before the amendments could be voted on]:

  1. Councilmember Mello: Requiring public hearing on rules proposed to implement ordinance [passed 8-0]
  2. Councilmember Mello: Requiring businesses to rollover up to 56 hours of leave from year to year [failed 3-5; Ayes: Ibsen, Mello, Woodards]
  3. Mayor Strickland: Giving businesses the option to front load hours rather than accruing based on hours worked [passed 8-0]
  4. Mayor Strickland: Requiring businesses to rollover up to 24 hours of leave from year to year [passed 6-0; Ayes: Strickland, Campbell, Lonergan, Thoms, Walker, Woodards]
  5. Mayor Strickland: Adding clarifying language that businesses have the option to provide more leave at their discretion [passed 8-0]
  6. Mayor Strickland proposed an amendment for a premium pay option, but this was tabled since a hard copy of the amendment was not available.  It will likely return at final reading.
As we look at where this leaves the ordinance, they added flexibility for businesses to provide employees a lump sum of paid leave [good] but now require businesses to rollover hours, complicating the tracking [bad].  There are some other minor changes along the way, but the final reading will likely shake things up some more.  Final reading of the ordinance will be on January 27th at 5PM.  If you can't attend, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us and your councilmembers directly.  Councilmembers' emails and phone numbers can be found at: http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_council

If you are interested in learning more about this ordinance, please contact our office at 253.627.2175.  The full text of the amended ordinance can be downloaded here.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

King 5 TV Covers Tacoma $15/hr. Ballot Initiative

Tom Pierson, Pres./CEO of the Chamber was part of an interview on KING 5 TV News about the proposed $15/hr. minimum wage in Tacoma and the current efforts to collect signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

You can see the full news story including Pierson's comments near the end here.

Pierson's interview included reference, not on the news broadcast that a National Bureau of Economic Research study released late last month by economists with the University of California at San Diego found that mandatory increases in the federal minimum wage between 2007 and 2009 had “significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tacoma Council Officially Considers Minimum Required Paid Leave

Last week we shared that the City of Tacoma would consider requiring all businesses to provide paid time off for employees (link).

Now the Council has placed a draft ordinance on their agenda for first reading tomorrow night.  This means any time after tomorrow they could adopt or amend it.  Tomorrow we hope to hear about any proposed changes, good or bad, and what councilmembers think of them.

The Chamber is sharing its concerns over tracking, employer protections, and one size fits all employees/employers solutions, but the council needs to hear from you & how this would impact your business.  Business leaders can sign up for public comment and express how this ordinance will affect you or simply join us in showing support of the business community. 

The meeting will be held in Tacoma City Council Chambers, 747 Market Street, First Floor, Tacoma, WA 98402 at 5:00 p.m.  If you can't attend, please contact your councilmembers directly.  Their emails and phone numbers are at: http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_council

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Army Opens Listening Session for Citizens to Have Say

Army opens a Listening Session for local citizens to have their say about the impacts of an additional potential 11,000 civilian and soldier job cuts at JBLM.

(Click on Image for a larger and complete view)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Port of Tacoma Road Receives Funds for Repairs

The City of Tacoma’s Public Works Department in partnership with the Port of Tacoma recently received a $5,940,700 grant from the Transportation Improvement Board to renovate Port of Tacoma Road from East 11th Street to Marshall Avenue.

This grant provides the remaining funds needed for design and construction costs for the project. Other funding partners include the City of Tacoma, Port of Tacoma, Tacoma Rail, Puget Sound Regional Council and Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.

The repairs will include replacing approximately 7,800 feet of road surface with concrete to meet heavy haul corridor standards, with a goal of keeping industry rolling during construction.  The project is expected to begin in April and is estimated to be completed in November.

Port of Tacoma Road is more than an arterial through the Tideflats. It is the gateway for international commerce, jobs for our local economy and an integral component in what makes the Pacific Northwest competitive in today’s global market, said Port of Tacoma Commission President Clare Petrich. The City of Tacoma and all of the funding partners recognize the importance of this project. We acknowledge and appreciate their support of this statewide economic development project.

Contact City of Tacoma Project Manager Tom Rutherford or (253) 591-5767 with questions or concerns.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tacoma Mandatory Paid Time Off

Last week, the Tacoma City Council announced it would take up the issue of requiring businesses to provide paid time off for all employees.  As reported by the The News Tribune, this paid time off would be available for employees to use for illness; family illness; public health closures; seeking legal assistance; personal or family domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking issues; or bereavement.

While there are still many questions surrounding how many of the details would work, the draft ordinance requires that all employers (except those with unions who waive the requirement) provide 24 hours a year of leave to employees working 960 hours or more.  This is significant progress from the earlier reports of proposals of up to 14 days per year, though the Chamber continues to have reservations about creating local labor laws on a city-by-city basis and the challenges in tracking between jurisdictions.

(For more on some of the challenges, please see our debate on Northwest Now on KBTC [Chamber President & CEO, Tom Pierson starts at 5:34].)

If you have thoughts on this proposal, please contact your councilmembers.  Their emails and phone numbers are at: http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_council

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Port Documents $3 Billion Impact

A new study outlines Port of Tacoma’s $3 billion economic impact.

Real estate and marine cargo operations at the Port of Tacoma supported more than 29,000 jobs in 2013, which generated nearly $3 billion in economic activity, according to a study presented Thursday to commissioners.

That’s an increase in more than 3,000 direct jobs since 2004, the last time the Port commissioned an economic impact study.

Real estate and marine cargo activity produced more than $223 million in local and state taxes to support education, police, fire services and road improvements. That’s $92 million more than in 2004.

The analysis, performed by Martin Associates, a Pennsylvania-based firm that has conducted economic studies for ports through the U.S., focused on direct, indirect and induced jobs.

•    Direct jobs include trucking companies and railroads moving cargo to and from terminals and warehouses, longshore workers, steamship agents and freight forwarders.
•    Indirect jobs include office supply firms, maintenance and repair firms, and parts and equipment suppliers.
•    Induced jobs are those created by people directly employed by marine cargo operations re-spending their wages in the community on housing, food and other consumer goods.

If the farmers and manufacturers who ship products through the Port of Tacoma are factored in, the port’s activities reach 267,000 jobs overall in Washington.

We see every day how important these trade-related jobs are to our friends and neighbors who raise families, build businesses and establish homes, said Clare Petrich, president of the Tacoma Port Commission. This study demonstrates that every person, job and dollar spent in the community adds up to a significant impact in our community.

View the presentation.
Download the fact sheet.
Read the full report.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chamber Joins Concerns & Seeking Help

The Chamber joined numerous other organizations and companies encouraging help in ensuring the present interruptions in West Coast port terminal operations does not escalate to a complete shutdown.

Following below, please find the letter from Washington state & Pacific NW employers to President Obama, expressing our deep concerns.

 (Click on image for a larger and complete view)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tacoma Council Scorecard for 3Q 2014

As a regional leader among Puget Sound business organizations, the Chamber seeks cooperation on economic and quality of life issues. Representing community businesses, we advocate for solutions, educate policy makers and leverage the collective interests of over 1,600 unified members.

Click on the image for a larger view
CLICK HERE for a pdf copy of the scorecard

Our scorecard examines actual votes – rather than testimony or rhetoric or behind the scenes work – on legislation, where the Chamber has articulated its position and engaged staff, elected officials, businesses and other stakeholders in the discussion.

While these votes do not tell the full story of the Chamber’s or elected officials' advocacy on the issue, they do highlight consistencies or inconsistencies between Chamber membership and civic leadership on the broad array of votes taken.

We recognize that votes taken are only one part of the picture of an engaged, business friendly City and encourage businesses to get to know their representatives beyond this scorecard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Option to Call National Leaders into PMA-ILWU Negotiations

If you wish to join in support of national leadership in seeking a resolution of the PMA-ILWU contract negotiation, you may sign a petition on the White House website urging President Obama to get involved to end the dispute. 

Massive List Supports Extension of Tax Incentives

The Chamber has joined the initiative of the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce along with a total of 528 associations, non-profit groups and coalitions urging in a letter to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, to extend seamlessly, enhance or make permanent expired and expiring tax provisions to inject certainty in the economy and confidence in the employment marketplace.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chamber Opposes I-1351 – Plus, Other 2014 General Election Chamber Ballot Recommendations

The Chamber’s Board of Directors today voted to oppose State Initiative 1351, which directs the Legislature to allocate funds to reduce class sizes and increase staffing support for students in all K-12 grades.

The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) recommended to oppose the initiative because the Legislative 2015-2017 session is already forecast to face a $1 billion shortfall. In addition, the GAC contends that the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision directives will require $2 billion above present spending levels. The initiative would prove to be “budget-busting” by costing another $4 billion at full implementation, and is without a revenue source.

“Initiative 1351 would cause detrimental harm to the state budget which in turn will hurt the very generation that we need to help the most.  Abiding to the mandates of the McCleary decision coupled with growing jobs in our state should be our number one priority,” said Tom Pierson, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO. 

“The surest way we can grow funds for education statewide is through the passage of a statewide transportation package now which would have a $42 billion return to our economy generating over $2 billion in new taxes that could then be used to invest in our education system, and supporting our kids’ future which is our paramount duty!” continued Pierson.

Other 2014 General Election Chamber Ballot Recommendations:

City of Tacoma

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to oppose: VOTE NO
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 6, Council (Re-) Confirmation of Utility Director
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 8, Extended Mayor and Council Term Limits

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to support: VOTE YES
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 5, Council Confirmation of Department Directors
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 9, Citizen Commission on Elected Salaries

City of University Place

The West Side Branch Board of Directors voted to oppose: VOTE NO
•    City of University Place Proposition No. 1, Additional 3.5% Tax on Utility Company Earnings for Police Services

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Share Your Thoughts on the Seaport Alliance

The Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle commissions welcome citizen and stakeholder comment on the proposed Seaport Alliance.  Citizens have an opportunity to communicate with their elected officials in three upcoming ways.

Townhall meetings
The port commissions have scheduled two joint town hall meetings.  Citizens and stakeholders are invited to learn about the latest developments of the announcement and to share their comments and ideas with their elected leaders.

Thursday, November 6
5:30-7:00 p.m.
Gig Harbor City Hall
3510 Grandview St., Gig Harbor

Thursday, December 4
5:30-7:00 p.m.
Anderson Center, Pacific Lutheran University
112nd Street and Park Avenue South, Parkland

Commission meetings
In addition to the two town hall meetings, three regular commission meetings have been scheduled at which commissioners from both ports plan to attend.  Citizens may use these meetings as another opportunity to share their thoughts with commissioners.
Port of Tacoma Commission meeting
Thursday, November 6
    1:00 p.m.
    Port of Tacoma’s Fabulich Center
    3600 Port of Tacoma Road, Tacoma

Port of Seattle Commission meeting
Tuesday, November 25
1:00 p.m.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Conference Center
178014 International Boulevard, SeaTac

Port of Tacoma Commission meeting
Thursday, December 4
12:00 noon
Port of Tacoma’s Fabulich Center
3600 Port of Tacoma Road, Tacoma

Electronic comments
Citizens and stakeholders are also encouraged to submit comments electronically through either the Port of Tacoma’s or Port of Seattle’s websites.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Political Pressure to Raise Tacoma Minimum Wage

On Tuesday, 15 Now organizers submitted 1,300 signatures to the City of Tacoma asking the City Council to require all businesses to pay a minimum wage of $15/hr. 

Unfortunately for the business community, several councilmembers seem very interested in raising the minimum wage on a city-by-city basis.

While the proponents have not shared any details of a proposal with the business community, they are likely overlooking the potential impacts to EMPLOYEES including reduced benefits, reduced hours and jobs being moved outside Tacoma. 

With the Seattle economy currently driven by high-skilled/high-paid jobs the cost of living in Seattle is 22% higher Tacoma.  This differential is exacerbated even further when you consider the average home price in Tacoma  is only 40% of the average home price in Seattle.  The idea that Tacoma needs to have a minimum wage comparable to Seattle’s just doesn’t make sense.

For KING 5's coverage, click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chamber Recommendations For 2014 Ballot

2014 General Election Chamber Ballot Recommendations


The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to oppose: VOTE NO
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 6, Council (Re-)Confirmation of Utility Director
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 8, Extended Mayor and Council Term Limits

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to support: VOTE YES
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 5, Council Confirmation of Department Directors
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 9, Citizen Commission on Elected Salaries


The West Side Branch Board of Directors voted to oppose: VOTE NO
•    City of University Place Proposition No. 1, Additional 3.5% Tax on Utility Company Earnings for Police Services

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tacoma's First Public Charter School Announces Enrollment Period

In 2012 the Chamber supported Initiative 1240, which would allow the creation of public charter school systems.

Today founder Kristina Bellamy-McClain of SOAR Academy, one of the first charter schools in Washington and the first homegrown charter school in Tacoma, announced the academy's launch of their official website and open enrollment period for current Pre-K and Kindergarten students that will be their first Kindergarten and First Graders for next school year.

SOAR Academy is accepting applications from current Pre-K and Kindergarten students.  Students wishing to apply MUST be in Kindergarten or First grades only next year.  Click here for the application.  SOAR Academy's open application period runs from October 1, 2014 - March 15, 2015 @5pm.

For more information contact SOAR Academy at apply@soaracademies.org.

The SOAR Academy's website is up and running at soaracademies.org.  They will continue to update the site with content and dates in the coming months as they progress.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Urgent Need For Mentors at Tacoma High Schools

The Hometown Mentor Program through the College Success Foundation recruits college-educated mentors from local communities to support and offer guidance to low-income high school seniors in Tacoma as they prepare for college. 

The program has an urgent need for mentors at 3 Tacoma high schools (Foss, Mt. Tahoma and Stadium). Mentors must be at least 21 years old.

Click here for a link with more info about the program and volunteer opportunity including the application.  Please consider this rewarding volunteer experience and contact Keith Stier-Van Essen at kstier.vanessen@collegesuccessfoundation.org if you have more questions.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Apply to Serve on the Board of Ethics

The Tacoma City Council is looking for applicants to fill one position on the Board of Ethics.

The Board of Ethics consists of five regular members recommended by the Government Performance and Finance Committee and appointed by the City Council. The membership term is three years and is comprised of City residents.

The role of the Board is to receive, investigate and make recommendations for disposition of complaints of Code of Ethics violations by the City Manager, the Director of Public Utilities, a member of the Public Utility Board (Utility Board), or a City-elected official. The Board may also render advisory opinions in response to a request by one of the aforementioned officials, and render and publish formal opinions on any matter within the scope of the Board's authority which it may deem appropriate.

For additional information on the Board of Ethics please visit cityoftacoma.org/government/committees_boards_commissions/board_of_ethics or contact City Clerk Doris Sorum at 253. 591.5361.

Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office by Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. To apply, please visit cityoftacoma.org/cbcapplication or contact Linnea Meredith at 253.591.5178, City Clerk’s Office, Room 11, Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402.

Apply to Serve on the Audit Advisory Board

The Tacoma City Council is looking for applicants to fill the citizen position on the Audit Advisory Board.

The Audit Advisory Board consists of each member of the Government Performance and Finance Committee, two members of the Tacoma Public Utilities Board, and one person knowledgeable in government performance and financial auditing, public administration, and government financial and fiscal practices. The chair of the Government Performance and Finance Committee serves as chair of the Audit Advisory Board.

The Audit Advisory Board supports the City Council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee in carrying out its audit advisory, oversight and liaison functions.  These functions include: ensuring coordination of audit needs of the City Council and the work of independent auditors retained by the City to audit City programs, functions and activities; making audit management recommendations to the City Council; and acting as a liaison between the City Council and the office of the City Manager with regard to audits of City programs, functions, and activities that are not under the direction of the City Council.

For additional information on the Audit Advisory Board, please contact Michelle Roose at 253.591. 5803 or mroose@cityoftacoma.org.

Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office by Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. To apply, please visit cityoftacoma.org/cbcapplication or contact Linnea Meredith at 253.591.5178, City Clerk’s Office, Room 11, Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402.

Friday, September 5, 2014

WA Support for EX-IM Bank Strong

[UPDATED September 18, 2014]

A co-signed letter to the Washington Congressional Delegation on the importance of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank had 40 diverse businesses, ports and organizations from across Washington state as signatories, strengthening our voice on this critical issue.

 (Click on Image for a Larger View)


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chamber For & Against City Charter Amendments

The Chamber, in response to the Tacoma City Council adoption of resolutions amending the City Charter, is taking positions on some of the resulting proposed ballot measures for the November 4, 2014 General Election. 

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to oppose:
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 6, Council (Re-)Confirmation of Utility Director
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 8, Extended Mayor and Council Term Limits

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to support:
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 5, Council Confirmation of Department Director
•    Proposed Charter Amendment No. 9, Citizen Commission on Elected Salaries

Region a Leading Metro Area for Exports

New data shows Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is a leading metropolitan area for exports.  The area's Merchandise Exports increased 13 Percent to a Record High in 2013.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) today announced new export data that shows merchandise exports from the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area totaled a record $56.7 billion, an increase of 13 percent or $6.4 billion from 2012 to 2013. This growth helped the region remain a top metropolitan area for exports in 2013.

The Department of Commerce is dedicated to assisting U.S. firms meet the needs of global consumers while strengthening our economy and supporting jobs throughout the metropolitan area and our nation, said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig. U.S. companies of all sizes are exploring the possible benefits of exporting, and looking beyond our borders to expand their customer base. More than 95 percent of potential consumers live outside the United States and crave the world-class products offered by American businesses.

According to international trade figures released today by ITA, 156 U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1 billion in merchandise in 2013. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is one of 33 metropolitan areas with merchandise exports worth more than $10 billion.  Thirty-three of the top 50 metropolitan areas for exports registered positive growth between 2012 and 2013 – with 26 reaching record export levels.

Key merchandise export categories for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area in 2013 included computer and electronic products, fishing, hunting, and trapping, machinery, miscellaneous manufactures, and transportation equipment. China, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates were the leading destinations for the region's exports.

Metro area exporters continue to ramp up their international sales with quality, made-in-the-USA products, said Diane Mooney, Director of the U.S. Commercial Service/Seattle. By selling internationally, many of these exporters are better able to weather changes in the economy while building their global competitiveness.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration works with American businesses of all sizes to identify export opportunities for their products and services to bolster President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI). A focus of the NEI is helping metropolitan areas identify regional strengths in order to increase their exports, boost the local economy, and create jobs for American workers.

For more information on exporting, contact the U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center in Seattle at (206)553-5615 ext.236 or visit here.

For more information on the impact of Metropolitan Statistical Areas on U.S. exports, including fact sheets for the top 50 exporting MSAs in 2013, visit here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

3-Month Ramp Closure Begins Next Week

Construction crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will close the A Street on-ramp to northbound Interstate 705/Interstate 5 at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept 2, for stormwater pond excavation work as part of the I-5 - M Street to Portland Avenue – HOV

The ramp closure will be in place around the clock until December, and a signed detour will be provided for motorists.

Additional overnight lane and ramp closures will also take place next week on I-5, I-705 and State Route 7 as crews finish creating a protected work area.

Beginning at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, crews will close the left lane and shoulder of northbound I-5 near M Street. The lane closure will be in place overnight until 5 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3. 

The I-705 and State Route 7 on-ramps to northbound I-5 will close overnight from 11 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, until 5 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 4. The two right northbound I-5 lanes will also close between M Street and Portland Avenue for the same hours.

Three lanes of southbound I-5, plus the Portland Avenue on-ramp and I-705 and SR 7 off-ramps, will close overnight beginning at 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 until 6 a.m. Friday, Sept. 5. The closures will allow crews to remove and replace pavement markings.

As a reminder, southbound I-5 between Yakima Street and State Route 16 is reduced from four to three general-purpose lanes around the clock for approximately six weeks. Crews have closed the left lane so the median can be rebuilt to carry traffic through the area during future traffic shifts.

Stay informed of traffic impacts by visiting Tacomatraffic.com, WSDOT’s traffic alerts and construction update webpages, and following WSDOT’s regional Twitter account.

Hyperlinks within the release: