George Blakey is a Shop Steward who works as a driver at Republic Services. He is on our Union's bargaining committee.
My name is George Blakey. I am a Shop Steward and proud member of Teamsters Local 117 who works as a driver for Republic Services in the solid waste industry.
My co-workers and I are in the middle of a tough contract fight with our employer. On behalf of my fellow Teamsters and our families, I ask that you please sign a petition supporting us.
I haul away recycle and yard waste from businesses and customers who live in residential neighborhoods in and around Bellevue, WA.
I encounter a lot of hazards on my route. I deal with rats, dirty diapers, and syringes in and around the cans, not to mention the dangerous equipment we operate. Maybe that’s why our job is consistently listed as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in America.
I work hard to support my family and want to be treated with respect.
Right now that’s not happening. In contract negotiations, Republic is pitting Teamster against Teamster, recycle drivers against garbage drivers.
Peter Miller sitting against the glass of the penguin exhibit. He has worked at the Woodland Park Zoo for over a decade.
On a sunny day in May, along with toddlers and mothers in bright shirts and summer dresses, I headed to the Woodland Park Zoo. I was there to meet members of our union who work there, and Peter — a Shop Steward — was going to be my guide.
Peter has worked as a zookeeper for over twenty years both as a Teamster and as part of the nearly 90% of private sector US workers who do not belong to a union*. When I asked him about the difference, he said it was staggering. Job security was on top of the list as he mentioned that zoo keeping is one of the rare professions where job longevity is common as well as valuable.
Yard waste and recycle drivers who work at Republic standing together for fairness and equity.
Yard waste and recycle drivers who work at Republic Services filled our Union hall yesterday to demand equal pay for equal work. Drivers are in contract negotiations with their employer and are heading into discussions about economics this week.
The drivers work the same routes and drive the same trucks as their counterparts who haul away the garbage and yet they are compensated significantly less for their efforts.
"We do the same job, we're driving the same equipment, we're on the road more because the facilities we work at are farther away. Why shouldn't we be paid equally?" said George Blakey, a Shop Steward who has driven for the company for thirteen years.
"It's a respect issue. There's no difference at all in what we do."
Fabio Desimone, a 23-year Teamster, who works out of Republic's yard in Kent, agrees.
"Even the company is saying that we do the exact same job; they tell us that at our safety meetings. The route managers will come up and say we deserve to have parity. It's a respect issue. There's no difference at all in what we do. Same trucks, same job, same uniforms, same routes. Everything that we do is the exact same thing."
After yesterday's meeting, the drivers began wearing buttons and distributing petitions demanding parity. "We rolled the petition out yesterday," Blakey said. "We've already got over 300 signatures."
Republic is fully aware of our position and concerns surrounding the disparate compensation for its drivers," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, who is leading the negotiations. "Recycle and yard waste drivers are standing together to insist on equitable pay and comparable working conditions across the industry."
Our Union bargaining team will be at the table with Republic all week. The drivers contract expires on May 31. The membership will hold a meeting on June 4 to either vote on a contract offer or to vote to authorize a strike.
Please support drivers! Sign on to the petition demanding equal pay for equal work in the solid waste industry!
Members on our Statewide Political Advisory Committee interview Dave Upthegrove on Saturday, May 13.
The last three Saturdays, our Statewide Political Advisory Committee met at the Teamsters Hall in Tukwila to interview candidates in local races for municipal office.
So far we have put together our 2017 candidate questionnaire and interviewed twenty-five candidates running for city council and mayoral positions across King and Pierce counties.
We formed this committee in 2015 because we wanted to make sure a cross section of our membership had input in who we endorse for political office.
“I am so impressed by the caliber of members on this committee who have volunteered countless hours the last few weeks to ask the hard questions of those seeking elected office,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. “They take the time to consider every candidate we endorse and make thoughtful decisions. We want to make sure the candidates we are picking share our Union’s values.”
Our 8-person committee this year represents members from both the public sector and the private sector.
Here’s how our endorsement process works:
- Back in April, our Political Advisory Committee came up with our candidate questionnaire, which we require every candidate who wants our endorsement to fill out
- Candidates return their questionnaire and we schedule them for a 30-minute interview with our committee
- We ask candidates questions about their questionnaire, their background, and their plans to win the election
- We then make decisions about which candidates to advise our full Executive Board to endorse and whether to make a campaign contribution to their campaign
- We send the recommendations to our Executive Board which ultimately makes the final decision. The Board will be reviewing our recommendations this coming month and once we take action in a race, we will put those endorsements online.
In politics, we only have permanent issues – we don’t have permanent friends. This means we continually need to hold politicians accountable for the votes they take and to make sure we hold them to what they say they are going to do.
The only way we do that is to have members involved.
Our Teamster nurses, at the Department of Corrections and the Washington State Nurses Association, perform incredibly challenging work, and it's time to thank them.
This week is National Nurses Week as designated by the American Nurses Association.
Teamster nurses, along with 3 million registered nurses across the country, provide critical health care services to the public. They care for their patients in stressful environments, often working long hours to provide essential, compassionate and ethical services.
Let’s take a moment to pay tribute to our nurses for their dedication, patience, and professionalism.
Please thank a nurse today!
We had some good news during the regular legislative session when both the House and Senate included funding for our DOC contract in their budget proposals. The Governor had released his budget earlier, which also proposed funding our contract.
This was a critical first step. A state budget that funds our contract will result in at least a 10.5% general wage increase for all Teamsters who work at the DOC over the coming biennium.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough for the sides to make their respective proposals. They also need to sit down and hammer out a final budget. And right now that’s not happening.
Senate negotiators are refusing to come to the bargaining table. By doing so, they’re playing a dangerous game that could have disastrous consequences. If a budget deal isn’t reached by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, we could see a government shutdown, leading to layoffs and an indefinite suspension of wage increases for DOC employees.
So far, the Senate has also refused to fund an external audit of staffing levels at the DOC. The DOC operates under a dangerously outdated staffing model, and an audit would begin to address that problem. Both the House and Governor support funding the audit.
What's more, the Senate is refusing to fund the contracts of our members at the UW Police Department who put their lives on the line to protect our community and our members who work at the Department of Enterprise Services.
We need to send a resounding message to legislators in the Senate: Start negotiating over the budget now, fund an external staffing level audit at the DOC, and fund our UWPD and DES contracts.
Take five minutes to call your Senator at 800.562.6000. Thank you!
We are currently recruiting for a Union Representative position for the Department of Corrections.
The successful applicant for this position will be assigned to the Monroe Correctional Complex.
Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to, visiting worksites, building relationships with members, internal organizing, grievance handling and investigation, assistance in contract negotiations, Labor-Management meetings, steward training and supervision, conducting regional meetings in their assigned areas, and working as part of a team with other Local 117 Union Representatives.
If this interests you, please review the full job description that includes instructions on how to submit your cover letter and resume. The deadline to apply is May 31, 2017.
President and Director of Corrections & Law Enforcement
On May 1, International Workers Day is celebrated around the globe to commemorate the dedication, struggle, and sacrifice of working people.
As a Union, we will be participating in Seattle's annual May Day March and Rally to speak out against proposed policy changes at the local, state and federal level that would harm working families and their unions.
We will be meeting today at Judkins Park (611 20th Ave. S.) in Seattle starting at 12 noon. Look for the Teamster banners and join us for the march!
Brothers and Sisters:
Every year at this time, we honor the men and women who work in critical public safety roles through a series of events and activities across the country.
With so many of our members working in these professions, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your co-workers for the tremendous work you do to serve and protect the public.
Our Telecommunicators are the first point of contact when the public seeks relief in the event of an emergency. They work behind the scenes to protect our police officers and firefighters by providing them with vital information.
Our Correctional Employees risk their lives to oversee, nurse, train, counsel and protect convicted felons. They perform their jobs valiantly, armed only with OC, their tactical verbal skills, and their wits.
Like Correctional Employees, our Police Officers put their lives on the line to serve and protect our communities. The dangers they face and the heroic acts they perform often go unrecognized by the community.
I want to let all of you who work in these professions know how much we value your contributions. Your commitment to public service and the risks you take every day to serve and protect our communities are a testament to your character and your sacrifice.
Thank you again for the amazing work you do on behalf of the public. Please stay safe.
We are closing in on the deadline to apply for our Teamsters Local 117 Jeff Alfieri Scholarship, but it's not too late!
Applications must be received by 5PM on Friday, May 5. The Local 117 Jeff Alfieri Scholarship of up to $2000 is awarded to outstanding students whose parents are members of Teamsters Local 117.
View application materials below:
If you have questions about the scholarship, talk to your Business Representative, or call 206-441-4860 or 1-888-872-3489.
The founders of the scholarship fund, Ralph and Sue Alfieri, established the scholarship in memory of their son Jeff Alfieri, a former Business Representative with Teamsters Local 117.
Brothers and Sisters,
The last week in April is recognized as Administrative Professionals Week. Although many of us work in challenging environments, I would like to take this opportunity to share my appreciation for all of our members working in professional administrative positions.
No workplace can be imagined without the existence of administrative workers. Speaking from experience, the administrative staff at your Local Union are the lifeline of our organization as they are the ones who ensure that our office runs like a family and the services that you rely on as a Local 117 member are accurate and timely.
Please take a moment to thank your co-workers, friends, and family members who work in these roles for their service, commitment, and contributions that too often go unrecognized.
Lastly, I would like to share a couple of quotes that speak to the appreciation we all should have for administrative professionals:
- "No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. Thank You." -Joseph Addison
- "The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was." -Unknown
Again, thank you for everything you do in the workplace and in our communities.
Members and their families at our Immigration Resource Fair on April 22 at the Union hall in Tukwila.
About 50 members of Teamsters 117 and their families met at the Union hall in Tukwila on Saturday to attend our Immigration and Community Resource Fair.
Members browsed resource tables from several local advocacy organizations while their kids played board games and watched movies across the hall.
Our Comite Latino caucus grilled carne asada and veggie burgers, which they served with an assortment of salsas, cilantro, radishes, and onions.
The event featured three 30-minute know-your-rights trainings provided by one of our partner organizations, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo. The trainings were well attended and the feedback was positive.
"Our immigrant members are facing many challenges," said Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy. "We are happy to provide critical community and legal resources to ensure that our members know their rights in the workplace and in the community."
Check out photos from the event on our Flickr page here.
Teamsters Local 117 represents approximately 65 Zookeepers, Warehousers, and Veterinary Technicians at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
Congratulations to our members at the Woodland Park Zoo on their new contract!
Members voted to ratify the agreement yesterday. The vote was unanimous - 100% voted in favor of approving the proposal.
The agreement includes wage increases in each year of the contract and eliminates a controversial merit pay system.
"Our members at the zoo do essential work that benefits all of us," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "They care for the animals, teach conservation and ecology, and help bring joy to the over 1 million visitors to the zoo each year. They deserve a contract that reflects the valuable contributions they make to our community."
Shop Steward Peter Miller was inspired by the vote:
"Everything I learned in shop steward training paid off: listening, hearing, organizing, surveying, sharing and supporting. But most of all believing. Believing that if you really want to make changes, it can happen. Your union is not only that negotiator and business rep and shop steward. It is you and in what you believe to be how you want the terms and conditions of your employment to be. "
It was an impressive sight. Fifty volunteers, all union members, coming together to fight homelessness. Teamsters working together with Machinists, working with members of the Building Trades and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.
The group set out to build two tiny houses at our Teamsters Union hall on Saturday, and they succeeded in spectacular fashion. The new structures will be transported to a local homeless camp in the coming weeks.
"With all of the uncertainty in our world, this represents hope," said Cynthia Adams, a member of our Local 117 Executive Board who works at King County, as she observed the group's progress.
The volunteers hammered out the frames in just a few hours, added siding, insulation, doors, windows, and a roof. One house was completely finished by day's end. The second house is nearly completed as well.
"What a fantastic project," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "We are proud to give back to our community by adding Teamster labor to this great cause. Thank you to the many volunteers who lent a hand in this effort. You make our union and our community strong."
Our King County Coalition of Unions met with the County again yesterday at the Teamsters hall in Tukwila to continue negotiations over a Master Labor Agreement (MLA).
With these negotiations, we are working to consolidate common language in our contracts into one general agreement that will apply to all Unions in the Coalition that vote to accept the MLA.
We also aim at setting contractual minimums for participating bargaining units to promote equity throughout the Coalition agreements.
Bargaining units that successfully ratify the MLA by the end of 2017 will receive an additional 1 percent general wage increase effective January 2018.
BARGAINING UPDATE – APRIL 20
On April 20, our Coalition team, which consists of dozens of Union Representatives and rank-and-file Union leaders, met again with the County.
In the last bargaining session on March 30, we presented our initial comprehensive proposal for the MLA. We believe our proposal strongly reflects the interests of the membership by including some of the best language from the contracts of the Coalition’s individual bargaining units.
In this meeting, the County responded with a presentation and explanation of their initial proposals. We spent a great deal of time asking clarifying questions while the County responded to our questions.
We expect that the County will finish its presentation in our next bargaining session scheduled for Thursday, May 11 at IBEW Local 46 in Kent. We have also scheduled bargaining dates for Thursday, May 18 and Thursday, May 25 at our Teamsters Hall in Tukwila.
If you have questions, please contact your Bargaining Committee member or your Union Representative. Thank you for your service to the residents of King County.