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)