I-1433 will increase the minimum wage, but job seekers deserve a better law

I-1433 will increase the minimum wage, but job seekers deserve a better law.

(July 6, 2016) Washington employers of all sizes and from a cross-section of industries voiced concern today that although raising the minimum wage through Initiative 1433 sounds good, the unintended consequences could be harmful, particularly for first-time job seekers.

Business groups, including the Association of Washington Business (AWB), Washington Restaurant Association, Washington Lodging Association, Washington Farm Bureau, Association of General Contractors (AGC), Washington Bankers Association, and the Washington Affordable Housing Council oppose the initiative, but also believe that a thoughtful middle ground to increase the minimum wage could have been found in the Legislature.

If passed, Initiative 1433 (I-1433) would begin raising the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 per hour by 2020. The first jump from the current $9.47 to $11 an hour would go into effect on January 1, 2017, less than two months after the November election.

The organizations met with lawmakers, business associations and union representatives to find a legislative solution this year, calling for a compromise during the legislative session. But, opposition within the Legislature created the vacuum that has led to the blunt instrument that is I-1433.

“We want to create opportunities for everyone to succeed without jeopardizing job retention and growth, particularly in rural communities,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “For us, that means support for entry-level jobs and recognition of other compensation that employers already provide like healthcare, retirement and scholarships. Business owners want to see their employees succeed and care about giving people the opportunities that were once given them.”

The Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Lodging Association, an advocate for raising the minimum wage in a responsible way, also oppose I-1433.

“We went to the Legislature and also submitted our own initiative because we believe the voters deserve more than one option on the ballot. However, in this polarizing election year, there wasn’t support for a moderate voice in either of those venues,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association. “I-1433 could have been more drastic and proposed $15 overnight, and many hospitality businesses wouldn’t have made it in that case. But, we still believe our state can do better.”

Anton added that Washington hospitality based businesses report that reducing staff, or cutting staff hours, will likely be an unintended consequence of higher labor costs, followed closely by an increase in menu prices, which could price restaurants and hotels out of businesses and the jobs that they support.

“A law to increase the minimum wage without providing support for starting jobs, or those that get young adults their first work experience will hit farming operations, particularly smaller ones, and their employees hard,” said John Stuhlmiller, chief executive officer for the Washington Farm Bureau. “Agriculture is one of the largest economic drivers in the state and the top job-creation engine in rural parts that need the employment opportunities the most. This initiative puts those job opportunities at risk.”

I-1433 would raise the minimum wage from $9.47 to $11 beginning Jan. 1, and require employers to provide up to 12 days of paid sick-leave. The combined impact of those requirements — instituted at once — would be a costly shock wave to small employers.

“For its part, the employer community has been a reasonable voice in the debate and has tempered union proposals with business solutions with the hope that any minimum wage measure was responsive to both the needs of employers and employees,” said Jerry VanderWood, chief lobbyist for the AGC. “This initiative doesn’t factor in what construction employees ask for, nor does it allow for thoughtful exemptions of parts of the initiative, such as the sick-leave component. A one-size-fits-all approach in the state and across all industries is the wrong approach.”

Service-sector jobs, which will be impacted the most if the initiative passes, are the gateway to employment opportunities, particularly for younger, unskilled workers.



Washington elections return strong results for the hospitality industry.

Washington elections return strong results for the hospitality industry.

(Nov. 5, 2015) After an exciting election cycle consisting of several important issues and races throughout the state, the results are in! The Washington Lodging Association and the Washington Restaurant Association are very pleased with the majority of the outcomes. While there are mail-in ballots that will still be counted, it is unlikely that any of the results below will change with the final tally. This election cycle has strengthened the hospitality industry.
State Races:
District 30 
District 30 featured the most anticipated legislative race in Washington state between appointed Democrat Carol Gregory and WRA/WLA-endorsed Republican challenger Teri Hickel. The district includes Federal Way, Auburn and Des Moines and is considered a swing district. Teri Hickel will be a friend to the hospitality industry and we look forward to working with her in the upcoming session on a variety of issues.
  • Teri Hickel – 53.92% *WRA/WLA Endorsed
  • Carol Gregory – 46.08%
District 9
District 9 included two Republican candidates seeking to represent the rural district that includes Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield and Whitman counties as well as part of Spokane County. The voters decided to retain Mary Dye, who was appointed in 2015 to the Legislature, to represent them in Olympia in the upcoming session.
  • Mary Dye – 64.6% *WRA/WLA Endorsed
  • Richard Lathim – 35.3%
Eyman’s Initiative (Statewide Initiative 1366):
In 2010, Washington voters supported Initiative 1053, a Tim Eyman-backed measure that required a two-thirds vote by either the voters or the Legislature to increase taxes. In 2013, the Washington Supreme Court ruled this initiative unconstitutional because the Washington State Constitution requires a majority vote, not a two-thirds vote. In order for that initiative to be legal, the state Constitution would need to be amended to require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. The Legislature is the only body that has the power to make a constitutional amendment.
Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366 would force the Legislature to put a two-thirds requirement amendment on the ballot or allow Washington state’s sales tax to decrease from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent. After Tuesday’s results were announced, Eyman’s I-1366 is leading 54% to 46%.
  • Yes – 54%
  • No – 46%
Local Ballot Initiatives:
Honest Elections (Seattle Initiative 122)
Initiative 122 is a campaign reform proposal that is attempting to increase voters’ participation in funding Seattle’s city elections. I-122 does this by tightening campaign finance restrictions and giving registered voters “Democracy Vouchers” of $100 to give to the candidate they support. I-122 also puts a spending cap on how much money each seat may spend in the primary and general, a cash contribution limit of $250 a voter and ban contributions from city contractors, lobbyists and regulated businesses.
Many worry about I-122’s potential for fraud, seeing the paper vouchers as an easy way for special interests to abuse the system. Many also point to the irony of the pro-I-122’s campaign committee raising a large amount of their $1.3 million from out of the state. After Tuesday’s results, Seattle overwhelmingly passed I-122 with over 60% of the vote.
  • Yes – 60.33%
  • No – 39.67%
Tacoma Minimum Wage
To the relief of many businesses and employees, Measure 1B passed, raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour over two years in the City of Tacoma. Voters overwhelmingly supported a minimum wage increase, with question 1 (Yes) receiving over 58% of the vote. But voters were even more adamant that the increase should be a reasonable phased-in increase of $12, as Measure 1B passed with over 71% of the vote.
Tacoma Initiatives 1 & 1B Question 1
(Increase in the minimum wage)
  • Yes – 58.68%
  • No – 41.32%
Tacoma Initiatives 1 & 1B Question 2
  • Measure 1 ($15) – 28.60%
  • Measure 1B ($12) – 71.40% *WRA/WLA Endorsed
To see the results of the Tacoma City Council races, click here.
Worker Bill of Rights (Proposition 1)
Spokane voters have spoken, voting down proposition 1 by over 62%. Proposition 1, a measure backed by the advocacy group Envision Spokane, stated that any business with 150 full-time employees must pay a family wage that would cover housing, food, child care and transportation. The reality of this proposition is it could have increased the minimum wage in Spokane by as much as $28 an hour while crippling Spokane’s economy.
  • Yes – 37.99%
  • No – 62.01% *WRA/WLA Endorsed
Fircrest Sale of Liquor for On-Premise Consumption (Proposition 1)
Fircrest voters decided to end the eighty-year ban on the sale of liquor for on-premise consumption Tuesday evening. Fircrest has been a dry city since the founding of the city in 1925 and the last time residents voted on removing the ban was in 1975, where they unanimously voted to keep the ban. The Washington Restaurant and Lodging Associations are pleased with the outcome of this vote, allowing businesses the right to sell alcohol for on-premise consumption and no longer keeping them at a disadvantage to neighboring cities.
  • Yes (For Sale of Liquor) – 75.81% *WRA/WLA Endorsed
  • No (Against Sale of Liquor) – 24.19%
Seattle City Council Races
The Seattle City Council races were of high importance to the Seattle Restaurant Alliance and the Seattle Hotel Association as all seats were up for election and the final makeup of the City Council is critical to the hospitality sector.
With the SRA and SHA officially endorsing eight of nine candidates in the election, the outcome in the General was overall very positive. Six out of the eight candidates endorsed by the SRA/SHA came out on top Tuesday evening, leaving the SRA and SHA optimistic for the upcoming year as they work with legislators to help craft legislation that has the hospitality industry’s best interests in mind. To see the results and the current vote count for Seattle City Council races and Tacoma City Council races, click here.
City of Spokane Mayoral Race
WLA and the WRA are pleased with the reelection of Mayor Condon and look forward to working with him on a host of issues that face the hospitality sector in the City of Spokane in the coming year.
  • David Condon – 62.08%
  • Shar Lichty – 37.01%
Make your voice heard. Join the GAC! 
Would you like to be more involved? We are recruiting for our Government Affairs Committee! Open to all WLA & WRA members, the committee welcomes participation from anyone willing to engage in government affairs!  Your role will be to provide input when immediate policy decisions are needed and to follow up on calls of action when we need to reach out to elected officials. Your participation will make a difference! If you would like to join the GAC or have any questions for the WRA/WLA government affairs team, please email Government Affairs Manager Marian Ericks at MarianE@WaRestaurant

GSA FY2016 per diem rates increase across the board for Washington state.

GSA FY2016 per diem rates increase across the board for Washington state

(August 20, 2015) The General Services Administration (GSA) has released federal per diem rates for FY2016, and many areas in Washington will see significant increases. The daily rate for the Vancouver area will jump by as much as 10%, followed by Spokane with a 9% increase. For the Seattle area, the high season rate was increased to $202 and in FY2016 extends from May through October. This means the Seattle per diem rate for May, September and October will see an increase of 29.5%.

The standard continental United States (CONUS) rate, which will now be reviewed every year, increased by 7.2% from $83 to $89 per night for lodging and the meals and incidental rate increased by 10.9% to $51/day. Skagit, Island and San Juan counties were moved to the CONUS rate.

Federal per diem rates, used by government travelers to obtain hotel rooms at a standard discount, are established each year based on actual market data compiled and provided by Smith Travel Research.

Click here for Washington state FY2016 per diem rates

Click here for a comparison of FY2015 and FY2016 per diem rates for Washington state.

New chip-based credit card standards could leave you with the bill if you haven’t upgraded your credit card reader.

New chip-based credit card standards could leave you with the bill if you haven’t upgraded your credit card reader.

(August 13, 2015) Be prepared, hoteliers. On October 1, new rules related to credit card fraud take effect, and if you haven’t upgraded to chip-reading technology for your credit card processing, you could be liable for fraudulent payments. It’s all a part of the roll out of new chip-based cards under the EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) global interoperability standard, and new compliance language will place the liability for fraud with whichever party is using older technology.

That means if you have a chip-enabled reader and your customer only has a magnetic strip card, the bank that issued the card is liable for fraud. The opposite is also true. If you haven’t upgraded to the new technology, and there is fraud with an EMV card, you’ll be left paying the bill.

The shift to chip-based cards and readers makes sense.

The U.S is the world’s last major market that still uses the old-fashioned swipe-and-sign magnetic strip cards, and consumers and merchants are paying a serious price. The antiquated card technology is a major reason why the U.S. has nearly half of the world’s credit card fraud, as revealed in a 2014 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, despite it being home to only approximately a quarter of all credit card transactions.

“EMV isn’t a mandate,” said Janette McGrath, vice president with MasterCard’s U.S. Product Strategy Division in a recent National Restaurant Association webinar on the new credit card standards. “There isn’t a penalty if you don’t meet the October 1 date. We really are trying to create an incentive to get everyone to move to this more secure payment system.”

Security is, indeed, the major consideration for the shift to chip-based cards. The traditional American credit card store personal information in a magnetic stripe on the back of the card, whereas EMV cards store information on a secure computer chip, which generates a one-time-use security code for every transaction. According to the EMV Migration Forum, a consortium of industry players that support EMV chip implementation across the United States, this makes counterfeiting virtually impossible.

Chip cards also require a pin number, further securing each transaction. These cards also protect against point-of-sale breaches like the Target breach in 2013.

“If there’s a tamper detected, the card will erase all the information that’s stored on its chip,” said Michael English, executive director of product development at Heartland Payment Systems, at the same EMV webinar attended by McGrath. “The card uses cryptograms that authenticate the user and the card.”

Switching to EMV is, however, a major undertaking not to be taken lightly.

“The training of staff is going to be imperative because these cards are going to be relatively new to the consumers as well,” said English. “It’s going to take a lot of patience on both sides to make the transition.”

Additional Resources

“Are you ready for EMV card adoption?” (HotelNewsNow.com, August 13, 2015)

“The coming credit card liability shift – What you need to know” (Washington Restaurant Market Watch, May 13, 2015)

Revenue optimization, pricing science, reputation management and more at WLA’s Annual Convention, November 15-17 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Revenue optimization, pricing science, reputation management and more at WLA’s Annual Convention, November 15-17 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Now, once silo’ed revenue disciplines are merging in integrated revenue strategies, and the savviest practitioners are effectively using big data, social media engagement, loyalty programs and pricing science to optimize revenue and build sustainable profit streams. At WLA’s 2015 Convention & Trade Show, you’ll learn from an expert on how this is best done.


RLHC_Jason_Thielbahr_3x4_BWJason Thielbahr, CRME, is senior vice president of revenue optimization & distribution services at Red Lion Hotels Corporation, and at the Convention he’ll review the technology and innovative strategies that make RLHC a leader in revenue management. A frequent speaker at industry conventions, Jason will also present a workshop on pricing science and reputation management.  

Register now  for the Convention and get ready to learn from leaders like Jason who are advancing the industry and perfecting the art of hospitality. 


For more information or to register by phone, please call 206-306-1001. 




AH&LA says Expedia’s proposed acquisition of Orbitz would create duopoly, restrict consumer choice and harm small, independent hotel owners.

AH&LA says Expedia’s proposed acquisition of Orbitz would create duopoly, restrict consumer choice and harm small, independent hotel owners.

(August 6, 2015) Katherine Lugar, president & CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), released the following statement announcing the association’s opposition to Expedia’s proposed acquisition of online travel booking company Orbitz.

Today, the American Hotel & Lodging Association is announcing its opposition to the proposed acquisition of Orbitz by Expedia. We believe this transaction and the resulting consolidation of the online travel marketplace will result in significant negative consequences, particularly for consumers, but also for the large number of our members who are small business owners and franchised properties.

“With 480 online hotel bookings per minute, the hotel industry welcomes the innovation, convenience and competition that online bookings provide. The hotel industry was among the first industries to encourage consumers to book online. Consumers expect, and hotels offer, a variety of choices and diversity in their online travel selections.

“However, this proposed acquisition would severely reduce consumer choice in the online marketplace. It would result in Expedia, and its numerous associated brands, which would include Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Cheap Tickets, and Trivago, controlling nearly 75 percent of the U.S. online travel agency (OTA) business. The loss of Orbitz could be detrimental for many reasons. First, as a search platform and potential distribution partner, it would reduce the number of OTAs willing to work on innovative promotional efforts that benefit consumers. Secondly, hotels currently pay Expedia on average 11% higher commissions than they pay Orbitz. The acquisition could result in Orbitz raising its rates to that level, further driving up distribution costs for hotel operators. Finally, should this acquisition go forward as proposed, it will result in a duopoly with over 95 percent of the online travel agency bookings in the United States being controlled by two competitors, Expedia and Priceline.

“Beyond severely restricting consumer choice, we believe the acquisition could exacerbate the problem of deceptive practices by rogue OTA affiliates posing as direct hotel booking sites. Both companies have affiliate relationships with thousands of smaller websites that offer hotel rooms for booking, some of which have misled consumers who think they are booking directly with a hotel. According to our latest research, there are some 2.5 million misleading bookings a year.

“Deceptive practices harm consumers, who don’t get what they want or expect, suffer the loss of reservations, or face unexpected charges and fees. This concern was raised by the Federal Trade Commission which recently warned consumers about these deceptive practices through two consumer alerts highlighting the scams and offering tips to avoid misleading booking sites. These practices also damage hotel reputations and reduce consumer confidence in the online booking process.

“Finally, this acquisition would result in increased concentration among the OTAs that could adversely affect many independent and small hotel owners who rely on OTAs to reach consumers directly. Indeed, as a result of previous OTA consolidation, as well as this proposed acquisition, the small, economy and mid-scale hotel segments have become increasingly reliant on an ever-shrinking number of OTAs that have the potential to impose steep commissions and demand restrictive contract provisions.

“AH&LA believes the proposed acquisition will accelerate these trends, which are likely to increase distribution costs and ultimately reduce value to consumers. We also believe the combination of Expedia and Orbitz will cause small and independent hotels to pay significantly more to advertise online in the increasingly pay-to-play ecosystem of online search. Taken together, these effects could substantially drive up the cost of doing business for small and independent hotels to the ultimate detriment of consumers.

“We look forward to the results of the Department of Justice’s careful review of this proposed acquisition.”

WLA and WRA combine membership and communications teams in advance of combined operations.

WLA and WRA combine membership and communications teams in advance of combined operations.

(June 16, 2015) The Executive Committees of the Washington Lodging Association and the Washington Restaurant Association have approved transition plans for communications, membership and business development in preparation for combining operations by October 1, 2015.

Under the approved plans for member services, the WLA and WRA membership teams will start working together in July, and area coordinators who already work with WRA members will begin reaching out to WLA members in August. The unified hospitality association will have ten area coordinators based around the state working with restaurant and hotel members. WRA’s current area coordinators have close ties to the communities and businesses where they work, and they are well positioned to engage members in the new association.

The WLA and WRA communications teams joined forces in May to expand members’ access to information and resources. In July, WLA member properties and allied member businesses will receive Washington Restaurant, WRA’s monthly magazine, which will have an in-depth look at the merging of the two associations.

A branding process for the new association will kick off next month, and the new name and logo for the unified hospitality association will be unveiled next summer. The WRA and WLA logos and websites will continue to be used until the launch of the new brand.

The business development department will work with allied members to deliver an expanded array of services to members. It will also oversee signature events currently produced by the two associations, including WLA’s Annual Convention & Trade Show and the Northwest Food Services Show.

WLA and WRA are joining forces to deliver even greater value to their members and to increase their capacity to act quickly, with greater resources and greater impact, to meet political and regulatory challenges at both the state and local level. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding on April 7 that is serving as a blueprint for combining forces.

If you have questions or comments about the creation of the new hospitality association, please email info@walodging.org


Creation of stronger, unified hospitality association moves forward with signing of memorandum of understanding (April 30, WAlodging.org).

When a dog is not a pet: Five things you should know about service animals.

When a dog is not a pet: Five things you should know about service animals.

It’s been 25 years since Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), guaranteeing basic rights for people with disabilities, including full and equal access to your property and services. While many ADA requirements are related to physical accessibility, in 2010 the Department of Justice issued revised ADA regulations that clearly define what can and cannot be asked about service animals. Here are five important things your front desk staff should know when welcoming guests with service animals.

1. Does our “no pets” policy apply to service animals?
Legally, a service animal is not a pet. You are required to modify your “no pets” policy to allow the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. A “no pets” policy may be continued, but you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.
Under the 2010 revisions, service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. The only other animal that can qualify under the ADA as a service animal is a miniature horse. A hotel is allowed to consider certain factors in determining whether a miniature horse can be appropriately accommodated within the hotel facility. These include whether the facility can accommodate the size and weight of the miniature horse and whether the miniature horse is housebroken.

2. We charge a deposit and a pet fee. Can we also require this for a service animal?
No deposit, fee or surcharge can be assessed for the service animal, even if the hotel routinely charges a pet fee. If the hotel normally charges for damages caused by pets, then the hotel may charge for any damage caused by the service animal.

3. How do we determine if it is a legitimate service animal?
There is no ADA requirement that the owner carry any certification papers showing that the animal is a service animal. When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, staff may ask two questions:
1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform.Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. No inquiries should be made if the answers are readily apparent (such as a guide dog leading a person who is blind).

4. Can we ask that service animals be kept out of the breakfast room?
Under the ADA, businesses that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.

5. Can we ever ask service animal owners to remove their animal from our premises?
A service dog’s professional behavior and good grooming are necessary for it to be protected under the ADA. An individual may be asked to remove his or her service animal if it:
• Makes a mess on the floor
• Bites or jumps on another patron
• Wanders away from its owner
A fact sheet on service animals published by the Northwest ADA Center notes that a service animal may be removed if it continuously disturbs patrons; for example, if it is repeatedly barking. However, it should first be made clear that the service animal is not just doing its job. Barking may be how the dog performs its job. Find out first!
For additional information on how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hotels in Washington State, WLA members are encouraged to consult their Washington State Hospitality Law Manual (pp. 206-216). To request a replacement copy, click here. To learn more about this WLA member benefit, click here.

WLA and WRA publish minimum wage guide to help Seattle members comply with complex local law.

WLA and WRA publish minimum wage guide to help Seattle members comply with complex local law.

(June 10, 2015) There is nothing easy about Seattle’s new minimum wage ordinance. Employers have to understand a complicated phase-in schedule, figure out if they are Schedule 1 or 2 employers and navigate through a slew of confusing issues. That’s why WLA and WRA have commissioned a legal analysis of the ordinance, which the two organizations recently released. Their Seattle Minimum Wage Guide helps members better understand and comply with the complex requirements.

The Seattle Minimum Wage Guide (MWG), which is available here, was prepared by an attorney and evaluates the Minimum Wage Ordinance as well as the related Rules and FAQ posted by the City of Seattle. It also includes a discussion of the new Administrative Wage Theft Ordinance and Washington State’s disclosure law concerning service charges. Government action, either through additional legislation or rules, is still needed to clarify several aspects of the ordinance.

The guide isn’t intended as legal advice and is no substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions about the information provided, or if you have any concerns or confusion about how the information below applies to your workplace, we strongly encourage you to seek the advice of a knowledgeable wage and hour attorney.


Supporting Articles

Tips in Seattle: Understanding what the new minimum wage ordinance means for employers with tipped employees (June 2, 2015 WAlodging.org)

City of Seattle releases final administrative rules, an FAQ and workplace poster as first wage increases go into effect on April 1 under Minimum Wage Ordinance (March 31, 2015, WAlodging.org)


Additional Resources

WLA/WRA Guide to Seattle’s Minimum Wage

Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance

Fact Sheet for Large Employers (501 or more employees)

Fact Sheet for Small Employers (500 or fewer employees)

City of Seattle Minimum Wage and Wage Theft Workplace Poster