Friday, March 7, 2014

Minimum Wage Debate Directs Focus Away from Job Creation and Growth

The Oregonian recently published an editorial on minimum wage summing up with, “So maybe it would be good if the minimum wage debate brings more attention to Oregon. What policy-makers would see is if they want to make real progress on reducing poverty, restoring the middle class and energizing the economy, the minimum wage is little more than a political diversion.”

While there is a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the minimum wage debate, raising the minimum wage actually gives little buying power. It creates a reduction in hours among lower skilled workers, and the products and services they use increase in cost. And, Oregon remains above the national average in unemployment.

The Oregonian editorial also stated, “It’s equally hard to argue that the minimum wage has made much of a dent in poverty. And it clearly hasn’t done much to boost the state’s per capita or median household incomes, both of which lag the nation.”

The insight of The Oregonian that “the minimum wage is little more than a political diversion” is a longstanding tactic of the unions. Before the 1996 minimum wage increase was on the ballot, the Oregon AFL-CIO put out a request for proposal on August 7, 1995 and the reason for the RFP stated, “In order to combat this hostile electoral and legislative climate, our campaign will … force our opponents to expend significant resources fighting labor-backed initiatives that will benefit working people.”

We have clearly seen that the government employees benefit packages have been costing the State billions of dollars – that’s billions with a B – in unfunded liabilities, so the unions indeed need a diversion.

If the backers of higher minimum wages wanted to direct help to people living solely on minimum wage, they would address it through the legislative process and try to reach meaningful compromise. There are provisions in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and in 40-some states that would help businesses manage their hours as it relates to tipped employees and minors entering the work force.

Most people listed as minimum wage workers in Oregon are either tipped employees making and reporting over $20 an hour in combined income, or minors who live with their parents and are gaining much-needed work experience. In Oregon we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and the unemployment rate for minors is even higher.

But the unions’ outrageous benefit packages and threats of strikes are creating problems in schools and local economies, and the public is becoming frustrated with the escalating costs. So when the unions need a political diversion, minimum wage is their old go-to topic.

It creates management concerns with payroll, employee hours and price increases, but the public stops talking about the real issues. Organized labor has not been able to deal with private sector issues, so union growth has primarily been in the government sector. Unions and policymakers that spend time on minimum wage are continuing down a path of lost focus and lost hours.

If the unions concentrated on matters that grew the economy, all citizens would benefit. Minimum wage workers do not join unions; they are primarily young, inexperienced individuals just entering the workforce. Income growth will come from manufacturing jobs and higher-skilled workers, and those people are the ones that join unions. We all need to focus on job creation and income growth, and not merely the same old “political diversion.” | Bill Perry, VP of Government Affairs, ORLA

Monday, February 17, 2014

Renewed National Partnership

ORLA is once again a partner with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) effective with the start of the New Year. The board and staff are enthusiastic with the changes being made in AH&LA’s mission, staff and approach to representing the industry. The AH&LA Board heard the concerns from many state associations regarding the collection and payment of dues at the state level and acted upon them in a very proactive manner that is to their credit. They all bode well for a stronger, more effective and focused national trade association to represent your interests.

ORLA had ended its partner state agreement with AH&LA two years ago after a great deal of review and discussion. At that time, the agreement created issues and limited membership sales for your association. Oregon was not the only state to raise these concerns. At the time we ended our partner state agreement, nearly one third of the state associations weren’t working with their national association. Clearly something had to be done.

AH&LA’s leadership recognized the need for change to ensure the association’s continued relevance in Washington DC and across the nation and to position the association for long-term success and survival. The board commissioned an industry-wide survey of the 575 key stakeholders in the industry to discover what the membership, state associations, members and staff of AH&LA wanted their national association to provide the industry in way of programs and services. They took those findings, developed committees consisting of all the stakeholders mentioned above, and started the planning process. New funding strategies and by-laws were the result as well as a more focused mission statement and strategic plan. Advocacy and communications to members and the public were the main focus. State associations will no longer be required to collect and forward dues to AH&LA unless they choose to do so with payment for their efforts and the national dues were lowered. State associations will now pay dues at a much lower level to be a partner state with AH&LA.

Since the AH&LA membership approved all of these changes a great deal has happened. Katherine Lugar was hired as the President & CEO and charged with implementing the many changes the new plan called for, which she has done at a thorough and rapid pace. The Government Affairs team has been turned over, the quality and amount of communications coming from the national office is greatly improved and the budget is much higher with the new funding program. In short, Katherine and her staff have done a terrific job of implementing a very demanding plan that has restructured and positioned AH&LA for the future.

What this means for ORLA members is better representation in DC, improved information on national issues being available to you, and lower dues to be an ORLA member (by 40 percent). By the way, we opted to continue to sell AH&LA memberships to the independent lodging operators who choose to be AH&LA members at the rate of $2 per room. It isn’t required to join ORLA but certainly is an option that we strongly urge you to consider and support.

The board and staff of ORLA are very excited about the new AH&LA and what it means for the industry. It is refreshing to work with an organization who listened to the concerns of the states and other stakeholders, found out what they wanted and then developed a plan to deliver that in a very timely manner. We’re proud to be a partner with that team and look forward to working with them to provide you with seamless coverage of your needs at the state and national levels. | Steve McCoid, president & CEO, ORLA

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Association’s New Year’s Resolutions

Oregon's capitol
Happy New Year! Now that we’ve survived the holiday season of 60+ football bowl games, putting up and taking down the Christmas decorations, and attempting to watch what we eat and drink (for me unsuccessfully as usual) it is time for making New Year’s resolutions. I’m a believer in making these and every once in awhile a resolution has actually been made and followed by yours truly.

For instance, my 1986 resolution was to quit smoking and January 1, 2014 marks 28 years of non-smoking – a good thing. I must confess that there are the annual resolutions of losing weight (and keeping it off) and eating healthier that are not religiously kept. However, I’m making them again in 2014 as only a stubborn Irishman can do. One has to set goals to succeed, right?


With that thought in mind, I’m going to share ORLA’s New Year’s resolutions for 2014 with you. These are the best kind of resolutions because they are made by someone else (ORLA’s staff) so you aren’t faced with meeting them yourselves but you will be the beneficiary if ORLA’s staff keeps them. Doing so will benefit the industry and your business. So, with this win/win proposition in mind, here are your association’s 2014 resolutions:

•    ORLA resolves to continue to operate the preeminent government affairs program in Oregon for the benefit of the industry and ORLA’s members. This includes an on-going role as one of the general business lobby’s leaders in Salem.

•    ORLA resolves to be the information source for the industry whenever an issue, question or problem needs to be addressed and/or answered with current and specific information.

•    ORLA resolves to continue to be a leader in the promotion of the industry, and all the wonderful benefits it provides our state, to Oregon’s public and private interests and the state’s print and electronic media.

•    ORLA resolves to continue to be the leader in providing mandated training to the industry. Constantly updating and improving our pioneering online training products is a must to keep our members’ employees properly trained and informed.

•    ORLA resolves to continue to fund and operate one of Oregon’s largest business political action committees to support the campaigns of pro-industry candidates to the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate. Doing so will ensure that the hospitality industry’s stature and voice are recognized and heard in Oregon’s political arena.

•    ORLA resolves to continually ask our members and the hospitality industry what they want their association to do for them, and to act on those requests in an expeditious manner.

•    Finally, and most importantly, ORLA resolves to never forget that we exist to represent, advocate for, inform and educate our members and industry. This is our mission and one we take very seriously.

As you can see, we have a great deal to do in the coming year. All of our resolutions are based on what our members have told us they want their association to do for them. You have a staff of association professionals dedicated to making your industry a better, more profitable one to work in. We welcome you to join us in representing our great industry.

In fact, I would suggest that you make a resolution to join ORLA, if you aren't a member already, in 2014 and become part of the only trade association in Oregon that represents and promotes your business’s welfare. Team up with ORLA’s dedicated staff of professionals this year. Doing so will be one of the best, and least expensive, business decisions you can make in the coming year.

Steve McCoid
President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Food Code Rules: Do You Know The Details?

The health inspector visited our restaurant and said we need to have a warning on our menus that we serve raw animal foods. I was unaware of this requirement; where do I find out how to state that information?” – restaurant operator in Hood River, Oregon
By now most restaurants in Oregon are aware of the new FDA Food Code rules that went into effect on September 4, 2012. But based on questions we’ve received over the past several weeks, it appears many don’t know some of the specific changes and are searching for details on how to implement the new rules.

The Oregon Public Health Division Foodborne Illness Prevention Program developed a number of fact sheets on the various rule changes and new sanitation rules that operators can easily download online. For example, the Consumer Advisory fact sheet addresses the requirement to disclose to consumers the risk of eating raw or undercooked foods. The advisory outlines specific language that should be used in the disclosure and reminder statements, as well as gives examples of food types that would require a Consumer Advisory. To download the fact sheets, visit Oregon Health Authority (OHA) online.

As part of a comprehensive educational program for ORLA’s annual Convention this past September, representatives from OHA and Lane County Environmental Health gave a presentation on the new food code rules. Attendees learned how to prepare for inspections, documentation, wellness policies, and how to implement some of the major changes. Visit OregonRLA.org/Convention to download the presentation notes.

And in case you weren’t aware, ORLA’s website has a number of federal and state regulatory agency links conveniently listed on one page that restaurant and lodging operators can reference. Visit ORLA's website for more information, or call us at 503.682.4422.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Evolving ORLA (part 1): The changing demographic of the industry

Demographic information has always fascinated me. Analyzing data about the demographic makeup of an area and how that affects retail sales or elections or local politics is always an eye opener. I’ve maintained my interest in the subject over the years and used it as a tool. I’m glad that I did as the current demographic makeup of our industry tells us that changes are afoot and that ORLA needs to address them to remain relevant.

We’re experiencing a major changing of the guard in the ownership of the businesses that make up the hospitality industry. The dominant generation of our industry for the past 25 years has been the Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964. At that time they were the largest generation in the history of the nation and as they moved through their lives they affected everything in our society from laws to elections to fashion to business and leisure.

The era of the Baby Boomer is passing. Did you know 10,000 Boomers turn the age of 65 every day? That is one every 7 seconds. Why is that important? Well, 65 is the traditional retirement age. Owners and operators of restaurants and lodging properties who have been leaders in the industry and active in your association are reaching retirement age and leaving the industry. It will continue at this pace for the next ten years. Then we’ll see the majority of owners, operators and leaders in the industry are from the Gen X (born 1965-1980) and the Gen Y or “Millennial” (born 1981-2000) generations. (Read also USA Today's "Hotel CEOs getting younger".)

Why does this matter you might ask? Well, the Baby Boomers are joiners. They have traditionally supported those associations and organizations that they felt supported their business or beliefs. Signing them up for membership was not a tough sell. They believed in the concept and were supportive and active as members. However, the generations that follow them are a bit more discriminating when it comes to joining associations. They have to believe that investing their time and money will benefit them personally or professionally before they will join any organization. So, associations, including ORLA, have to be sure they are providing programs and services these generations value and are willing to support.

This environment represents a real turning point for all associations. The membership that they’ve represented for the past thirty plus years is changing rapidly as the numbers above indicate. If ORLA is to remain viable as a membership option, and as the representative of the hospitality industry, the leadership and staff are going to have to review all activities and programs to ensure they are valued by the emerging owners and operators in the hospitality industry. Those individuals are the future of ORLA and our industry. Your association needs their support and participation to continue to be an effective industry representative. | Steve McCoid, president & CEO

(In Part 2 we look at how we need to adapt, change and accommodate to meet the needs of the new generation. )

Monday, July 9, 2012

Evolving ORLA (part 2): Accommodating the new paradigm


In the last blog post I spoke about how the demographic of our industry is changing as Baby Boomers are retiring. ORLA needs to remain viable as a membership option, and as the representative of the hospitality industry, the leadership and staff need to ensure the association offers valuable programs and services for the emerging owners and operators in the hospitality industry.

How will your association staff and board deal with this paradigm? Well, we’ve taken the first step by commissioning a telephone survey of the membership, which is being conducted this month. As I relayed to you in last month’s Main Ingredient, we’ll use this information to identify areas we need to improve on or add to and use the survey as a baseline to determine our performance moving forward. We’ll also begin a thorough review of every program we offer to determine their current and future relevance. We’ll reach out to the various age groups of members and non-members in the industry to find out what they feel the association’s mission should be and how we can improve our programs and services to meet those expectations. We’ll also be asking representatives of the various industry segments we represent the same questions. We’ll look at fine-tuning our mission statement making sure to apply our financial resources in the most impactful, effective manner possible. In short, the staff and board are embarking on a long term planning process to reinvent the association to meet the needs of our multi-generational membership.

This is a very large and vitally important initiative that the staff and board are undertaking. I invite your feedback at any point in the process beginning with this editorial. We need to know what you think of our work and how you would like to see it altered, added to or redesigned. Please make the time to answer our surveys, questions or requests for information if and when you receive them in the future. This is your association and we need your assistance in building the association model of tomorrow. I’m confident that with your input and support along with the experience and passion of the ORLA staff and board, we will get this done and emerge as the acknowledged leader and representative of our new multi-generational industry of owners and operators. | Steve McCoid

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Training Our Future Workforce


Aside from the economic rut restaurants have faced in recent years, it’s still not easy running a successful restaurant. From rising food costs to employee healthcare, there’s any number of business issues owners need to address every day. One challenge that seems to be top of mind for many continues to be that of hiring qualified staff with experience in the kitchen.

For over a decade, ORLA’s Education Foundation has focused on developing our industry’s future workforce, helping build a stronger connection between the classroom and the industry. This past February, we watched as close to 100 ProStart students from around the state competed for top honors in the Oregon ProStart H.S. Culinary Championships. They represented only a small fraction of the 3,000 students statewide that participate in this two-year culinary arts program. Blending practical skills with real-world experience through internships, the ProStart program prepares these students for the future and growth into leaders our industry needs.

The team from South Salem High School is busy practicing and perfecting their meal preparation in anticipation for their trip to Baltimore, Maryland on April 27 for the 2012 National ProStart Invitational. Teams participating in this national competition are challenged to prepare a three-course meal (from scratch) in only 60 minutes. Their performance during the practical session is observed and rated by judges from leading colleges and universities across the nation. First through fifth place winning teams are awarded medals and scholarships to pursue a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

Want to get involved in this cool program? Contact Jami Scott at 503.682.4422 and find out how you can support this program through mentorship, internship or financially.