ORLA Update: June 17, 2022
Inflation / Job Loss / Travel Forecast
More than two years into the pandemic and we're still realizing the effects of Covid on travel, supply of goods, and inflation. We appreciate the work our national partners do to provide valuable insights and data highlighting the ongoing economic issues facing our industry.
This week, the National Restaurant Association released an updated summary of the Misery index based on the May jobs and sales reports. While job growth is still slow, sales are continuing to grow. American restaurant owners and operators are experiencing the impact of several global factors influencing food supply. The war in Ukraine, India’s record heat wave, and delayed planting in China last year mean that wheat is in short supply. With wholesale food prices already up nearly 18% in the last 12 months, the growing list of unavailable or items in short supply is adding pressure to an already strained industry.
Highlights from the June 2022 Misery Index:
A recent survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) shares how new concerns about gas prices and inflation are impacting Americans’ travel plans in a variety of ways. Majorities say they are likely to take fewer leisure trips (57%) and shorter trips (54%) due to current gas prices, while 44% are likely to postpone trips, and 33% are likely to cancel with no plans to reschedule. 82% say gas prices will have at least some impact on their travel destination(s).
The survey of 2,210 adults was conducted May 18-22, 2022. Other key findings include:
AHLA recently relaunched its Hospitality is Working campaign with a focus on reigniting travel across the nation and highlighting hotels’ positive economic impact in cities across the country. With travel ramping back up, hotels have embarked on an unprecedented hiring spree to recruit hundreds of thousands of workers for more than 200 hotel career pathways.
Bottom line, restaurant and lodging operators are feeling the same economic pressures that our customers and guests are, and we’re always going to work hard so we can keep serving them, our employees, and our communities.
Stay strong, serve well!
ORLA Update: June 15, 2022
ERC Eligibility / National CEO Presence / Board Nominations
Eligibility Clarification for 2021 Q3 Employee Retention Tax Credits
The law states there are two criteria by which an employer may qualify for the Employee Retention Credit:
AHLA and NRA CEOs to Speak at ORLA's Hospitality Conference
Mark your calendars and plan on attending the ORLA Hospitality Conference September 11-12 in Eugene. We are excited to host both CEOs from our national affiliates for the first time at an ORLA event. Michelle Korsmo, President & CEO for the National Restaurant Association and Chip Rogers, President & CEO for the American Hotel & Lodging Association will be speaking in person during the kickoff lunch on Sunday. This is a rare opportunity to hear insights directly from these industry leaders on legislative activity in Congress, industry trends, emerging issues, and projected industry recovery. In addition to the general sessions, we have eight breakout sessions including two that will offer a deeper dive on restaurant and lodging advocacy.
ORLA Board Nominations Committee Convenes in July
Active ORLA members provide the backbone for all association efforts and we remain fortunate in having committed restaurant, lodging, and allied members who serve on ORLA’s Board of Directors. The ORLA Board is made up of 10 restaurant member representatives, 10 lodging member representatives, and 3 Allied member representatives. Board members serve 3 year terms and attend 4 board meetings each year. Those serving are eligible to serve two consecutive terms before reaching their term limit. For ORLA’s upcoming fiscal year beginning October 1 there are 3 openings on the board due to term limits – 1 restaurant, 1 lodging, and 1 allied position. If you are interested in being considered for ORLA Board service please reach out to ORLA President & CEO Jason Brandt.
Sysco Sponsors Teacher Flex Fund
Thanks to our partners at Sysco, the Oregon Hospitality Foundation had the opportunity to extend a small grant application in support of the ProStart program across the state. The Oregon ProStart Teacher Flex Fund encouraged teachers to apply for a $500 grant for to prepare for the 2022–2023 school year. At the teacher's discretion, these funds can be spent on much-needed products or equipment within the classroom to help facilitate their culinary program. Allocations from the $5,000 Flex Fund were made on a first come, first serve basis, and will be dispersed later this month. To learn more about how ProStart is helping foster our next generation of industry leaders, or to see how you can support this valuable career technical education program, visit OregonRLA.org/prostart.
Questions? Feel free to contact your association.
ORLA Update: June 3, 2022
Alcohol Tax / Commission Caps on 3rd Party Deliveries / PFMLA / Tip Pooling Resources
Fighting Oregon Alcohol Tax Increases
Here's a quick update on our ongoing fight to protect the industry from increased beverage taxes in Oregon. Our next fight against increased alcohol taxes will surely come up yet again in the 2023 Legislative Session. Our friends at Quinn Thomas have been working hard to keep our organizational alliance intact as well as help identify messaging relating to some of the ongoing problems with Oregon’s broken addiction treatment and recovery system. This analysis on Alcohol Price Elasticity helps shed more light on the lack of correlation between increased alcohol taxes and decreases in alcohol use.
Upcoming Vote on Capping Third Party Delivery Fees at 15%
Portland City Council will vote on June 15 to cap delivery fees for restaurants from third party platforms at fifteen percent. If approved, the ordinance would take effect June 29, 2022 when the emergency order capping delivery fees at ten percent expires.
In addition to the fifteen percent delivery fee cap, the ordinance would allow third party delivery platforms the ability to charge:
The ordinance also prohibits:
Paid Family Leave Concerns
You may recall a tough fight in the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session on Paid Family Leave. The new labor law passed before Covid and has been in hibernation mode behind the scenes as the Oregon Employment Department worked to get their ducks in a row for a 2023 launch. Of course we had this little thing called Covid which upended our world and unfortunately those unexpected challenges have not changed the state’s plan to fully implement their “Paid Leave Oregon” program in 2023.
The Paid Leave Oregon programs latest round of rules addresses a variety of issues including appeals, wages, benefits, and equivalent plans. ORLA’s statewide business partner OBI has participated in the rulemaking advisory committee and submitted comments on behalf of the business community. We continue to worry about the confusion this will create for employers and employees that are also subject to the Oregon Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. OBI hopes to introduce legislation in the 2023 session to address this issue.
Key date: The 1% payroll tax will begin on January 1, 2023. Employees pay 60% of the tax and employers pay the remaining 40%. However, employers with less than 25 employees are not required to contribute to the program, but their employees are. Alternatively, employers can opt to provide a private equivalent plan through insurance or by self-insuring, rather than participate in the state program (ORLA is actively looking into private sector solutions right now – any progress will move through our ORLAMS board process). Employees will be eligible to file claims under both the state and private plans in September 2023.
Webinar on Tip Pooling & Overtime Compliance
ORLA hosted a webinar June 2 on “How to Ensure You’re in Compliance with Overtime and Tip Pooling.” Representatives from the Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division Portland District covered these topics and more, including fielding several situational questions from industry members. The following resources were shared:
For questions, call the WHD toll free and confidential information helpline at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243), or the Portland District office directly at 503-326-3057. You can also call or visit the nearest Wage and Hour Division Office.
For a copy of the webinar presentation slides, please email Lori Little.
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to ORLA Government Affairs via email.
ORLA Update: May 20, 2022
RRF / Elections / Liquor Privatization...
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) Senate Vote – Oregon Senators Voted Yes
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate was unable to overcome a filibuster on a motion to begin debate on a $48 billion bill that would have replenished the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The vote to invoke cloture and overcome the filibuster failed by a vote of 52-43 (60 votes were needed to prevail). Read the press release from the National Restaurant Association for more information. Highlights of the vote from yesterday:
Primary Election Roundup
There has been an increase in the number of industry members who have expressed a willingness to run for office. ORLA members Cheri Helt (BOLI Commissioner candidate), Daniel Nguyen (State Rep Candidate), Janelle Bynum (Current State Rep), and former ORLA staff member Christine Drazan are all working to bring more industry expertise to our policy making decisions. Here are a few highlights from this week’s primary election on state races:
Portland Lodging Alliance (PLA) Statement on Portland City Budget
ORLA was involved in group discussions on the City of Portland's budget earlier this week. Generally, the high level social service and public safety investments and content within the budget seem on point. What continues to plague Portland are the deficiencies in management and a desire by our members to see consistent progress on the streets. One of ORLA’s local groups is called the Portland Lodging Alliance and current ORLA Board Members George Schweitzer and Daryn White Cyrus sit on the PLA Steering Committee. Joining them in leadership are Brandon Carter of the Bidwell downtown and Martin McAllister who runs the waterfront Marriott Hotel. This coming week the Portland Lodging Alliance is submitting comments on Mayor Wheeler’s proposed budget to the City through their online public comment portal.
Liquor Privatization Off the November Ballot
There’s one less thing to worry about on the November ballot now that the Northwest Grocers Association have pulled their initiative petition from the signature gathering process to qualify as a state measure. Initiative Petition 35 would have opened the door to liquor sales in grocery stores here in Oregon. Although the convenience may seem enticing on its surface there are far ranging implications if the current alcohol system were to be disrupted with cost escalations on liquor inevitable for ORLA members. See the story summing it all up here on OPB. ORLA has been an active part of the opposition campaign to this effort ever since our Government Affairs Committee voted unanimously to oppose these efforts when this was attempted the last time.
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to us via email.
ORLA Update: Maay 6, 2022
Paid Family Leave / Governor's Race / 'Hospitality is Working'
Paid Family Leave Rulemaking
Paid Family Leave passed in the long legislative session of 2019 before Covid and has been in a delayed planning state ever since. The law is now getting more attention as the Oregon Employment Department and their new Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Division (PFMLI) work to launch the new program in 2023. The program is ambitious and requires a 60/40 percent employee/employer split in contributions to a new fund for specific family and medical leave needs. ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs serves on the rulemaking committee; we'll keep members informed of paid family leave updates.
Governor’s Race & GOP Polling
Recent polling for the Governor’s Race shows former Oregon Restaurant Association staffer Christine Drazan may have a good shot at securing the GOP nomination for Governor in the upcoming primary. Most political pundits continue to believe the Democrat primary win will go to Tina Kotek although Tobias Read has been making a considerable push to gain more favor within the party.
Hospitality is Working Campaign
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) relaunched its Hospitality is Working campaign seeking to reignite travel nationwide and showcase the economic and community benefits hotels provide in neighborhoods across the country. Hospitality is Working showcases the broad range of benefits hotels provide the communities they serve while highlighting the industry’s strong commitment to investing in its workforce, providing quality career opportunities, and protecting employees and guests as more and more Americans begin to travel. The campaign will include television and digital advertising as well as AHLA events around the country alongside local hoteliers, economic development organizations and community groups.
Have questions? Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. Happy Friday!
ORLA Update: April 25, 2022
PAC Auction / OLCC Presentation / Lodging Tax Accountability
One Big Night in Less than 2 Months
ORLA's largest fundraiser of the year will be here in less than 2 months. One Big Night will be held at the Portland Doubletree Hotel, Tuesday, June 7.
Presentation to OLCC Commission
ORLA representatives had an opportunity to present an industry update to the seven-member OLCC (Oregon Liquor and Cannabis) Commission last week. The presentation focused on the importance of OLCC staff extending liquor service footprints outdoors through a user friendly online process during Covid, their approach to license fee flexibility, and the emergence of to-go cocktails as another sales opportunity permanently available to the industry in Oregon to increase sales. We also flagged both ongoing inflation concerns and the importance of Economic Injury Disaster Loan extensions in helping our industry just barely keep our heads above water. ORLA remains focused on explaining the nature of invisible piles of debt on the shoulders of our operators while we all start seeing restaurants busy and even bustling. Today's sales numbers hopefully serve as a constant reminder that ongoing relief is necessary and warranted.
Industry Coverage in The Hill
The Hill published an op-ed from Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. Sean hit the mark in covering what the industry needs to get back on track. It was a timely article right before industry operators head to DC this week.
Accountability for Local Governments on Local Lodging Taxes
ORLA remains committed to doing what we need to do in getting local governments to commit to transparency in how they spend industry tax dollars. We are currently in the middle of a disagreement with staff from one city in the Willamette Valley on how much of their lodging tax money is restricted for tourism promotion and facilities. A multitude of other local governments are also on our list in our pursuit of additional transparency.
Have questions? Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. | ORLA
ORLA Update: April 8, 2022
Local Lodging Tax Watchdog Work / The Fate of RRF / Workforce Storytelling / 77% of the Way
Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a bill to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Details on what to expect in DC as well as other updates from the week are below. Don’t forget to sign up and support our largest ORLAPAC fundraiser of the year, One Big Night. If you haven’t already, register to attend and/or consider donating an auction package and help us make a difference in the upcoming election cycle in support of our industry recovery efforts.
Local Lodging Tax Watchdog Work
ORLA’s successful win in court at both the Circuit Court and Oregon Court of Appeals level has helped usher in a new chapter of relevance for the association in ramping up our watchdog role for our lodging members and the broader tourism industry. As a reminder, ORLA won on all counts against the City of Bend which helped cement our legal standing in holding local governments accountable for how they expend local lodging tax dollars even though ORLA itself does not collect local lodging taxes directly. With the help of legal counsel, ORLA is actively seeking more transparency in the Cities of Gladstone, Gresham, Cannon Beach, and Albany. Watch ORLA's explanatory video as a refresher on how local lodging taxes are to be spent. This video has proven to be a helpful resource to help educate newly appointed local elected leaders or city administrative staff so please share with your contacts whenever helpful.
The Fate of RRF Replenishment
As anticipated, the U.S House of Representatives passed H.R. 3807 - replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The challenge of getting replenishment over the finish line continues to be in the Senate. On Tuesday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced The Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (SBCRA) (S. 4008). The SBCRA would allocate $40 billion for RRF replenishment and $8 billion for other small businesses impacted by COVID. It would partially offset (pay for) the $48 billion through $5 billion in unspent Payroll Protection Program funds. In the interim, we will encourage Senate Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on replenishing the RRF. The largest hurdle remains overcoming vast differences between the parties on whether the spending must be paid for, and how. If you haven't already, tell Senators to replenish the RRF. A special thanks to a contingent of ORLA current and past board members for joining ORLA President & CEO Jason Brandt and ORLA Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley at the National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference coming up at the end of this month in Washington D.C. RRF, as well as several other key issues will be a part of our discussions as we meet with lawmakers.
We have a big challenge at our doorstep which revolves around reclaiming the narrative around jobs and careers in the hospitality industry. There are incredible stories all around us about the positive and lasting impact hospitality jobs have for Oregonians from all backgrounds. The Spring edition of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association magazine focuses in on the importance of mentors and the opportunities we all have to do more in sharing the opportunities in our industry with both high school and community college students. On page 24 is our Industry Champions article, The Essential Role Of Industry Mentors For High School Culinary Classrooms, where four of our ProStart mentors were interviewed. They each had great stories to tell, worthy of a broader share than just in print, so we repurposed the article as a blog post as well.
77% of the Way Back
The hardest hit sector, accommodation and food services, has regained 77% of the many jobs lost in the initial COVID crisis. In addition, the following article is featured on the Oregon Employment Department’s website regarding youth employment trends in our industry. It’s worth a read to learn about our history and our efforts to regain traction in employing high school youth over the course of the past decade.
Oregon OSHA Fixes Workforce Housing Caps
ORLA has been advocating for our hospitality businesses who provide housing for workers as a benefit of employment. This predominately impacts our resort members who leverage visas and provide work experience to citizens from other countries with those opportunities ramping up in the Spring and Summer seasons. Thankfully Oregon OSHA has answered the call to repeal the Covid rule that capped the amount of workers we were allowed to house in each dwelling unit due to concern over Covid spread. This will greatly assist members in controlling costs associated with the number of vacation homes/dwelling units that must be rented out for the purposes of workforce housing.
Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. | ORLA
ORLA Update: April 1, 2022
RRF Replenishment / OSHA Updates / H-2B Visas / US Labor Department Investments
We are seeing signs of sales getting close if not reaching pre-pandemic levels for some Oregon operators. Of course sales numbers don’t tell the whole story for our restaurants given the cost of goods and the ongoing impacts of a marketplace driven by historic leverage in the hands of employees. On the lodging side it continues to be a tale of two realities with operators seeming to do quite well in secondary markets with Portland still working to find its footing with the delay in corporate/conference travel. Spring/Summer live events and the return of the full fledged Rose Festival events for a month from late May through late June will certainly help Portland turn the page.
RRF Replenishment Votes Possible in House, Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as early as this Wednesday. Details on the size of the bill, and whether it is funded with new government spending or reallocating existing federal dollars remain unknown. Meanwhile, if the Senate is able to reach agreement on legislation to fund COVID treatment programs, Democrats are expected to offer an amendment to replenish the RRF. Senate Republicans have been clear in calling for any COVID spending to be fully offset by cuts in other government programs, and will vote against RRF replenishment if this condition is not met.
ORLA has been working with the National Restaurant Association on your behalf to urge that Congress not treat the 177,000 restaurants waiting for COVID grants as hostages to battles over government spending. The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the Hill this morning in support of RRF votes and posted a press release urging support from Congress. We will keep you informed if a vote occurs and when the next grassroots activation will launch.
OSHA Update on Workforce Housing
One of the many unintended consequences of agency rules during Covid was the impact of workforce housing restrictions on our resort communities around the state. Oregon OSHA was focused on preventing the spread of Covid in agricultural worker housing specifically, but their rules also prevented resorts around Oregon from housing hospitality employees within residential vacation homes. The Covid rule limited the number of workers who can be housed in resort vacation homes–and those limits did not exist for vacation travelers from different households using those same homes. ORLA pointed out this inequity over the course of the past week and thankfully Oregon OSHA responded. OSHA just released a Workplace Advisory Memo on April 1, 2022, that removes these workforce housing limitations in our industry.
American Hotel & Lodging Association President & CEO Chip Rogers (who will be joining us in person at September’s ORLA Hospitality Conference in Eugene) shared the following good news this week on H-2B Visas. A number of ORLA members utilize Visas for seasonal employment needs and expanding capacity has been a priority for the industry.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) announced they would make available an additional 35,000 H-2B visas for the second half of fiscal year 2022 (FY22), which begins April 1. Of these, 23,500 visas will be available for returning workers, while 11,500 are reserved for nationals of Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In December, for the first time ever the Departments released an additional 20,000 H-2B visas for the first half of the fiscal year. These additional visas will provide critical help to seasonal resorts as we enter the busy summer travel season, and they suggest that the Biden Administration recognizes the acute workforce shortage we are facing. AHLA will continue to push for legislation and policies that will help fill open jobs and keep us on the road to recovery.
US Labor Department Investments
This week the National Restaurant Association shared more details on President Biden’s federal budget proposal which includes an 18% increase in U.S. Department of Labor funding from 2022 levels ($2.2 billion more) with $400 million proposed to go towards the hiring of additional staff within the department’s workforce protection agencies. Here are the cliff notes from the administration's proposals that are more industry specific:
Labor & Workforce
Food Supply Chain and Competition
Technology and Competition
Access to Credit
For more information:
We look forward to sharing more about workforce development efforts in future reports. There is a lot of work going into improving connections between industry operators and high school/community college classrooms. Give us a call at 503.682.4422 if you have any questions. | ORLA
ORLA Update: March 22, 2022
Food Scrap Policy, Customer Entitlement, and March Madness
Business Food Scraps Policy In Play – Implementation of a regional food scraps separation requirement went into effect March of this year and many businesses within the Portland Metro boundary will need to comply by 2023. Originally scheduled to begin in March 2020, the requirement was delayed by two years due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the region’s residents and businesses. The earliest any business must be in compliance is March 2023 and all businesses generating more than one 60-gallon roll cart of food scraps a week must be in compliance by September 30, 2024. View more information about the requirement and how to access resources for implementation on Metro’s website at Oregonmetro.gov/foodscraps.
Multnomah County Candidates Forum April 20 – There continues to be a lot at stake in Portland with how we are managing safety and security issues as we start getting a taste for what Spring and Summer looks like in the Portland region with the activity surrounding March Madness. Some of you are seeing sales numbers returning to acceptable levels as of this month for the first time in a long time. One of our goals is to not let our elected leaders off the hook in understanding the significance of our debt loads just to get to the point where we could be open and start seeing customer demand improve again. ORLA is co-hosting along with several other business organizations an upcoming forum on April 20 focused on Multnomah County Commissioner candidates. Visit Portland Business Alliance's website for details.
OTLA 3rd Year Class Launch – This past week the 3rd year class for the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy (OTLA) gathered in Sunriver immediately following the Oregon Governor's Tourism Conference. ORLA had the chance to sponsor one of the keynote sessions at the Conference and showcase a new promotional video to bring more awareness to the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy and opportunities for tourism professionals to get more involved in the program. Subscribe to updates on OTLA and view the new video.
Customer Entitlement? – A 2022 pilot study from OSU Cascades Hospitality Management program shared by the program's director, Todd Montgomery, confirmed what they have been hearing during focus groups and personal interviews for years: entitled customer behavior is getting worse, and it is impacting the desire of hospitality workers to stay in the industry. OSU Cascades will present a white paper on all of their results in the coming months where they will address workers perceptions of what is driving these customer entitlement events. In the meantime, you can view their latest infographic.
Learn more about how the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is protecting and promoting Oregon's hospitality industry at OregonRLA.org.