When we fight, we win!

Teamsters 117 Wire

Dispatchers at Transdev vote to join Teamsters

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New Teamsters who work in Transdev dispatch: Eric Nyberg, Lana Bonilla, and Chelsie Brumit.


Let's congratulate and welcome a group of 14 Transdev dispatchers who voted to become Teamsters in an NLRB election on February 10.

The dispatchers join 260 drivers at Transdev who became Teamsters in 2015. The drivers won their first Union contract last July.

"We are excited to welcome the Transdev dispatchers to our Union," said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. "By joining Teamsters Local 117, they have the strength and unity of 16,000 members standing with them. We look forward to sitting down with the group to establish their priorities for bargaining so that we can work together to negotiate a strong Teamsters contract."

The dispatchers' Union Representative, Carrie Barnett, has scheduled demands meetings with the group on Wednesday, March 1 and Saturday, March 4. 


Thousands of members took our Union's membership survey. Here are the results.

Between November 2016 and January 2017, over 2,500 members of Teamsters Local 117 participated in our union’s strategic planning survey. The survey is one of many ways members have been participating in our strategic planning process. The results are helping shape our union’s strategic priorities for the next three years.

The results of our membership survey are listed below:

Graph_1.pngMembers want our union’s mission and purpose to be built on a foundation of bargaining strong contracts and organizing to build power in the workplace.  In order to achieve these goals, survey respondents identified the importance of growing our union, engaging in political action, conducting leadership training for members, and improving the community with charitable programs.

  • Holding politicians accountable emerged as an important priority, with nearly half of DOC members identifying political action in their top three priorities.
  • Over one-third of private sector members highlighted the necessity of organizing non-union workers to raise industry standards.
  • One out of every four members place high value on our union providing leadership training for members, and one-in-five want our union to prioritize improving our communities with social, educational, and charitable programs

Graph_2.pngMembers want our union to not only improve their own lives, but also lift up the community. 

  • While contract bargaining and enforcement is foundational to members’ experience with the union, a majority of members envision a broader role for their union in raising a collective voice and improving the community.
  • Twenty-six percent (26%) of members want our union to “help members create a better future – not only for ourselves at work, but also for our families and our communities.”
  • Twenty-two percent (22%) of members want a union that builds member power to have a voice at work, while one in eight (13%) want our union to “fight for justice for all working people, whether they have a union card in their pocket or not.”

Members believe we must build unity by sticking together and focusing on the needs of the membership (47%) and making sure all members’ voices are heard (42%).


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Members are working together to improve union communication and build a union presence at work, both when a Union Representative is on the shop floor and in between visits.

  • Sixty-seven percent (67%) of members talk with their Shop Steward and other coworkers as a first step to figure out how to address issues in the workplace.
  • While a majority of members prefer to receive union communication one-on-one from a Shop Steward or trusted coworker, it is also important to be responsive to the variety of ways that members prefer to receive information about the union.  Other popular forms of union communication include visits from Union Representatives (47%), email updates (31%), bulletin board postings (26%), and union meetings (25%).

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Nearly three-quarters (73%) of members stress the importance of being involved in our union, in order to improve working conditions and provide a better future for our families and communities.

  • However, fourteen percent (14%) of members identify barriers to participating as much as they would like, including family obligations & childcare, long commutes for union meetings, difficult work schedules, and even lack of confidence.  It is important to work to address barriers to involvement to build a stronger union.  

Secretary-Treasurer's Message: United for the Future

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Brothers and Sisters -

On February 14, more than 230 members of Teamsters 117 and their families converged on the State Capitol in Olympia for our DOC Lobby Day.

It was our biggest, most successful Lobby Day event ever. Local 117 members met with dozens of legislators to discuss issues that directly impact their lives.

Our Lobby Day event exemplifies the kind of Union we are working to build. It’s a Union where members are engaged, organized, informed, and politically active.

Over the last few months, we have been developing a strategic plan that will shape the future of our Union. More than 2,400 members filled out our membership survey to provide input into the plan.

"We have been developing a strategic plan that will shape the future of our Union."

The survey asked questions about our Union’s mission and purpose, how best to build unity, improve communication, and increase member involvement.

You can view the results of our membership survey here.

We’ve also held meetings of member leaders to critically analyze our Union. What are our strengths? Where do we need to improve? What do we need to prepare for? And what opportunities will we want to capitalize on in the future?

Based on your feedback from the surveys and at these meetings, we have established four strategic priorities that will guide our Union into the future. They are:

  1. Fortify our Union against attacks on workers;
  2. Build our power through new organizing;
  3. Invest in member leadership and development;
  4. Build our political power.

These are the issues that you identified as critically important to building unity and power for all working people and to help lift up our communities.

Over the next several weeks, we will be continuing to build our plan around these priorities. We have formed sub-committees to work on each priority, and we will be developing our plan at our upcoming Shop Steward Seminar on March 11.

Your ongoing input in the plan is important. If you are interested in working on a specific priority, please email spc@teamsters117.org

Thank you for everything that you do.

In Solidarity,

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John Scearcy
Secretary-Treasurer


VIDEO: Veterans Working in Corrections Talk about their Service


We're hiring! Looking for a Communications Specialist

We're looking for a creative, talented person to join our Communications Department as a part of a two-person team.

The Communications Specialist position involves web, social media, video, and print communications designed to engage, inform, and organize our Local 117 membership. 

Candidate should have a background in journalism, communications, graphic design, or related field and a strong commitment to workers’ rights and an interest in labor unions.  

For application instructions, please view the full job description here.


Another DOC group joins Teamsters with PERC certification

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Let's welcome another group of new members from the state's Department of Corrections to our Union.

Seven Recreational Specialists 4s who work in supervisory roles at the DOC became Teamsters when the Public Employment Relations Commission certified their bargaining unit on February 17.

The Rec Specialists join 18 DOC ferry workers who became Teamsters in December.

A group of Correctional Specialists 2s, Occupational Nurse Consultants, and Fiscal Analysts have also recently indicated that they want Teamsters representation and are awaiting PERC certification.

"More and more employees at the State's Department of Corrections are seeking a voice at work and the strong representation that Teamsters provides," said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. "Our DOC contract is a model for workers at other state agencies. We are excited to welcome this new group to our Union."  


Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy stands up for corrections employees in WWUB op-ed

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Our Union's Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, has published a guest opinion piece in today's Walla Walla Union Bulletin.

The piece focuses on the need for the state to invest in our corrections employees who put their lives on the line to serve and protect our communities.

You can read the complete article below or link to it on the WWUB's website here.

Invest in our state’s corrections employees who keep us safe
By John Scearcy
Published in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin on Feb. 22


The state legislature is right to focus on fully-funding our public education system as required under the McCleary decision. We need to invest in our children.

But legislators in Olympia must also invest in the public servants who provide essential services to the residents of our state. These include the corrections employees who staff our state’s prison system.

Corrections employees put their lives on the line to serve and protect our communities. They perform uniquely stressful and challenging work in a dangerous environment.

Unfortunately, we often ignore the dangers of corrections work until disaster strikes. This was the case earlier this year when inmates at a Delaware prison held four staff members hostage for two days. The crisis ended in tragedy, with one officer injured and another found dead.

The timing of this incident is especially troubling given its proximity to the anniversary of the death of Officer Jayme Biendl, who was murdered in 2011 at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Officer Biendl and the corrections officer in Delaware made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.

We can never completely prevent these tragedies, but we can take immediate steps to protect the men and women who risk their lives to protect our communities.

The legislature can start by approving an external audit of staffing levels in all Washington prisons. The Department of Corrections operates under a staffing model that is dangerously outdated. An external audit would identify parts of the system that are understaffed and make recommendations for improvements.

We can modify the Public Records Act to protect the personal information of DOC employees. Many correctional employees are harassed by felons who obtain their information through public disclosure. A bill (SB 5326) before the state senate would allow prison staff to seek legal damages if their information is used for nefarious purposes.

Finally, we can fund the corrections contract. Washington’s corrections employees are significantly underpaid for the dangerous work they perform. Experienced officers, who represent the largest job classification at the state’s Department of Corrections, earn 37 percent less than officers who work at the county level. Other DOC job classifications are similarly underpaid.

The corrections contract contains wage increases for corrections staff that were awarded by an independent arbitrator and deemed financially feasible by the state’s Office of Financial Management. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ impact model indicates that a fully-funded DOC contract would generate $567 million of economic activity statewide. Local small businesses benefit when community members have more money in their pockets.

Investing in corrections employees and other public servants will make our communities stronger and our state’s prisons safer. It will help retain experienced staff who are best suited to prepare offenders for life after prison.

Many of our corrections employees are military veterans who served our country and are now continuing that service back home. Our support will help protect these men and women who have devoted their lives to public safety. It will also improve the economic stability of our communities.


Teamsters at GP Gypsum Ratify 4-Year Contract

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Congratulations to our Teamster Brothers and Sisters at GP Gypsum in Tacoma. The group voted yesterday to ratify a new 4-year contract. 

"We are lucky to have these members as a part of our Union."

The vote comes after a challenging contract negotiations process. Back in October, our members voted unanimously to authorize a strike.

Throughout the process, members stood together and displayed their Union pride. Many put large Teamster name labels on their lockers and wore solidarity stickers in the yard.  

"There was more union presence down there, more solidarity" said Shop Steward Skyler Still. "Kris (the group's Rep) came down and got us all together. Then John stepped in during negotiations. We got some high visibility Teamster shirts. We all showed up to a safety committee meeting when something was going on that we didn't like. It was the biggest safety committee turnout in four or five years."

Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy, who headed up the negotiations, had this to say:

"This group stuck together, supported their Union bargaining committee, and fought hard for critical improvements to their contract. We are lucky to have these members as a part of our Union."


Teamster corrections employees bring their demands to the state capitol

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View photos from our Lobby Day event here.

More than two hundred Teamsters working for the Department of Corrections, along with their families and supporters, converged on the State Capitol in Olympia today with a simple message for lawmakers: It's time to invest in the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe.

“We’re here to educate legislators about what we do to keep the public safe,” said Sergeant Thomas Orth, who traveled with his wife, Kim, from Spokane to speak with legislators. “They need to be in our boots and see what we do every day because we’re not only protecting ourselves, we’re protecting them and their families.”

Corrections employees talked with legislators about the dangers of prison work while focusing on a few key policy issues.

“Our top priority is to ensure that the state legislature invests in corrections employees by funding their contract,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Corrections employees put their lives on the line to protect the public, yet they are significantly underpaid for the important public safety work they perform.”


David Storaasli joins our staff as a new Union Rep.

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David Storaasli and his wife Jessica. David joined our Local 117 staff as a Union Representative in January.


Talk about your experience becoming a Teamster.

I got hired with Waste Management about 20 years ago. I liked it because they were offering “union-like” benefits. When I got the job, they said, “You’re going to be a Teamster.” I was very excited. My father was a Teamster for 48 years with the West Coast Grocery company. My grandfather was an organizer in the ‘30s. Being a Teamster is what our family has always done.

Why did you get involved in the Union in the first place?

I’d been at Waste Management about a year. There was a contract that needed to be negotiated, so I said, “I’ll do it.” From that day forward, I was the Shop Steward.  I learned that if you’re willing to sit down and have a conversation rather than going straight to the FUs, you can actually work through some stuff.

If there is something you can achieve with your members, what would it be?

I love to teach people. Once they learn it, I can say, “Let’s do it. You go forward, you’re in charge of it. If you have a question, ask me.”

"There is always someone within the Teamsters organization that is willing to help you."

We're building a labor organization that really empowers members. We’re trying to do something where we are making a difference.


Court partially blocks the release of your information

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We have some good news to report from our legal team’s appearance in court yesterday on behalf of Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.

We were able to successfully obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) that partially blocks the release of your personal information.

The case involves an individual, Robert Hungerschafer, who is using outdated public records laws to request the full name, job classification, seniority, union membership, bargaining unit, and pay scale of thousands of corrections employees through public disclosure.

The state was prepared to release your information today, but the court granted our motion for a TRO and enjoined the release of some of the information. 


Welcome, Takele Gobena, New Union Representative

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Takele Gobena joined our Local 117 staff as a Union Representative on January 23.


We're excited to welcome Takele Gobena, a new Union Representative for members of Teamsters Local 117 working in the private sector.

Takele has dedicated his life to fighting for workers' rights. He advocated for working families in his native Ethiopia; he worked on the campaign to raise the minimum wage in the city of SeaTac; and he has fought to improve conditions for drivers in Seattle's for-hire industry. 

Takele will be representing many of our members at Seatac airport, in the parking industry, and in several other private sector jurisdictions.

Takele describes some of his work and life experiences below:

A PASSION FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS
By Takele Gobena

I was born in a family that emphasized hard work. My passion has always been to improve conditions for workers. 

I moved to the United States from Ethiopia, where I advocated to empower and promote educational access for families living in remote rural areas.

Carrying on the mission of empowering working families and communities, I worked with different East African community members in King County.

In 2013, I proudly helped the campaign to raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour in the City of SeaTac.

I have lobbied, advocated, and organized the workers in the on-demand transportation industry to have a voice and better working conditions. Our common effort has resulted in producing strong, pro-driver legislation in Seattle, and it has inspired workers in many other cities around the nation and in Canada.

I also had an opportunity to serve as a congressional intern for Washington’s 9th Congressional District in 2016 and as an AmeriCorps VISTA intern in 2015.

I studied politics, philosophy, and economics with a minor in Business Administration at the University of Washington, and graduated in 2016 with a bachelor's degree.

I am excited to work on behalf of the membership of Teamsters Local 117 and look forward to building member power in my jurisdictions!


Welcome Johnnie Uzzell - New Union Rep!

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Johnnie Uzzell joined our Local 117 staff as a Union Representative on January 23.


We’re excited to welcome Johnnie Uzzell, a new Union Representative at Teamsters 117.  

Johnnie is outgoing, with a contagious personality. By his own admission, he loves to talk, but he’s a problem solver as well. Johnnie started his new job on January 23. Before joining our Local 117 staff, he worked in the laundry industry at Aramark where he was a Shop Steward. He also worked for four years as a Local 117 driver in the solid waste industry at Rabanco (now Republic).

Johnnie will be representing members in the laundry industry and several other private sector jurisdictions. We sat down with Johnnie and talked about his career as a Teamster and his new job.

Talk about your experience becoming a Teamster.

I was a Teamster at Rabanco for about four years, then moved to a non-Union job. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was missing out on a lot of opportunities. I had no pension, medical was higher. I just had a kid. I thought – maybe I should rethink this Union thing.

How did you get more involved in the Union?

I got back in the Union with Aramark. I noticed how the company did things – big business, big corporation, just railroading people. We fought for some things. Eventually, I decided to run for Shop Steward and I got voted in. I think one of the biggest compliments I got was, “Johnnie, the reason I voted for you is that we might not see eye-to-eye on anything politically, but you still treat me the same as everybody else.”


Lobby Day! DOC Teamsters bringing their voice to Olympia

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Next week, more than two hundred Local 117 members working for the Department of Corrections, along with their families and other supporters, will converge on Olympia with a simple message for legislators: It's time to invest in the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe.

The event kicks off on Monday with a Legislative Reception at the Red Lion Hotel. Members will talk with lawmakers to discuss critical issues facing corrections employees and their families.

The next day, members will meet face-to-face with their legislators at the State Capitol.

In addition to educating legislators about the dangerous work of corrections, we will focus on a few key policy issues.

Our top priority is for the state legislature to invest in corrections employees by funding their contract. Corrections employees put their lives on the line to protect the public, yet they are significantly underpaid for the important public safety work they perform.

Experienced officers, who represent the largest job classification at the state’s Department of Corrections, earn 37 percent less than officers who work at the county level. Other DOC job classifications are similarly underpaid.

The corrections contract contains wage increases for corrections staff that were awarded by an independent arbitrator and deemed financially feasible by the state’s Office of Financial Management.

We will also be asking the legislature to fund an external audit of staffing levels in all Washington state prisons. The Department of Corrections operates under a staffing model that is dangerously outdated. An external audit would identify parts of the system that are understaffed and make recommendations for improvements.

Finally, we need to fix the Public Records Act to protect the personal information of DOC employees. Many corrections employees are harassed by felons who obtain their information through public disclosure.

A bill (SB 5326) before the Washington State Senate would allow prison staff to seek legal damages if their information is used for nefarious purposes.

If you have registered for this event, you should have received a packet with logistical information and an overview of our legislative priorities. If you have any questions, please contact our Political Coordinator, Dustin Lambro, at 1-800-872-3489 ext. 1262.

Thanks to everyone who is taking time off work and away from your families to attend. This is going to be a great event. See you next week!


Call the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000 to protect your personal information!

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Our bill to modify the Public Records Act to protect your personal information is in danger of not getting a hearing.

The bill (SB 5326) would allow our corrections and law enforcement members to seek legal damages if their personal information, obtained through public disclosure, is used to harass or intimidate them or any other person. 

To save the bill, we need to contact our state senators immediately by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000. Tell them that Senator Mike Padden, the chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, should give the bill a hearing!

If our bill doesn't get a hearing by the end of next week, it will die in committee.

Over 200 DOC members will be meeting with their legislators to discuss this and other critical issues next week at our DOC Legislative Reception and Lobby Day. 

But we can't wait until then to act on our Public Records Act bill, so please call the Legislative Hotline or send your senators an email now!