December 1, 2014
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L&I lowers next year's increase in workers' comp rates



Employers who remember years of double-digit workers’ compensation rate increases will likely welcome the news that next year’s increase will be smaller than first announced. In September, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) had predicted an average increase of 1.8 percent. Last week, citing stronger than expected stock market performance and cost savings from reform measures, L&I said the average increase will actually be slightly lower at 0.8 percent.

AWB Government Affairs Director Bob Battles told Washington State Wire that the smaller increase is an improvement, but said L&I could have decreased rates by 3.4 percent and still ended up breaking even in 2015.

“We’re pleased that they’re lower than the original,” Battles said. “We still believe that zero would have been appropriate.”

As always, rates for specific industries vary based on many factors. Salaried county and city firefighters will see a 20 percent increase, to $1.78 per hour, while overhead power and transmission line construction workers will see a 14 percent decrease, to $3.05 per hour.

Read more from L&I here.



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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Port slowdown's potential devastating impacts on Washington businesses


By AWB President Kris Johnson and Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association

The contract dispute between West Coast dockworkers unions and the Pacific Maritime Association has nearly ground Seattle and Tacoma port traffic to a halt at the worst possible time. In our trade-heavy state, businesses are rightly worried this contract standstill could lead to a complete work stoppage.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), when a breakdown in contract negotiations resulted in a 10-day lockout in 2002, it cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day, and took half a year to clear the backlog. A shutdown now could be even more costly, an estimated $2 billion each day, according to a study conducted by NAM and the National Retail Federation.

Given our dependence on ports for nearly all industries -- imports and exports --  the slowdown could ultimately impact already-stressed state and local budgets.

The timing is devastating for agriculturists and retailers...

READ MORE: Click here for the full op-ed column from Kris Johnson and Jon DeVaney in The Seattle Times
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