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Corrections & Law Enforcement

Local 117 President Michelle Woodrow's testimony on the Senate budget


Michelle Woodrow, President and Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement of Teamsters Local 117. 

Late Tuesday night, Michelle Woodrow, our President and Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement, testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on how the Senate's recent operating budget proposal would impact members of Teamsters Local 117.

You can read Michelle's testimony in its entirety below. You can also watch her testimony on TVW here

Good evening Chair Braun and committee members. My name is Michelle Woodrow and I am the President at Teamsters Local 117.

On behalf of the Teamsters at Dept. of Corrections, we’d like to thank you for funding the portion of our master labor agreement that covers Dept. of Corrections. Our members keep our communities safe and it is imperative that we continue to invest in them. With that, please consider adding a proviso that would fund an external staffing model audit. Again, thank you for funding their contract but there is more work to be done.

Unfortunately, the budget ignores other vital services performed by WA State employees and fails to fund all of the collective bargaining agreements.

Our officers at the University of WA Police Department also play a vital role in public safety, yet you’ve failed to recognize that. Rejecting their contract and offering them five hundred dollars per year over the biennium is irresponsible.

Additionally, you’ve created a provision that ceases state funding of the LEOFF 2 retirement system, negatively impacting first responders and the communities they serve by shifting the burden of funding the pension system to local governments. These men and women put their lives on the line every day and we should ensure they have a funded retirement system.

Again, I want to thank you for funding the Dept. of Corrections portion of our master labor agreement, but at the same time point out that your other budget provisions cause damage to state workers, first responders, families, and vital services our state provides.

I respectfully request that you reconsider the position you’ve taken and fund ALL collective bargaining agreements. Thank you.

Senate Budget: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Today, the Republican State Senate released its 2017-2019 biennial state budget proposal, and there was good, bad and ugly news.

The Good:

  • The proposal fully funds our 2017-2019 Teamsters-DOC collective bargaining agreement for corrections workers, including our 10.5% across-the-board wage increases over the course of the next two years. This is a testament to your participation in the process, including our record participation in Lobby Day.

The Bad:

  • The Senate DID NOT propose funding for our DOC staffing model audit. DOC has not updated its staffing model in nearly thirty years, and the failure to address this issue continues to put our members in danger.
  • Our brothers and sisters who work in other public safety and law enforcement units like the University of Washington Police Department and Community Corrections are left out of this budget: their negotiated wage increases are substituted by $500 per year for each year of the biennium.

The Ugly:

  • Other than Washington State Patrol, no other state employee agreements are funded, meaning the people who provide the other vital public services we all enjoy are not recognized in this budget.
  • The Senate Republicans also propose to eliminate state contributions to the LEOFF-2 retirement system and instead shift the responsibility of the contributions to local government, negatively impacting the communities we serve. 

We anticipate the State House Democrats to release their budget next week, at which point the Senate, the House and the Governor will convene to reconcile their respective proposals.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely as negotiations over the budget continue. Please stay tuned for updates as well as ways you can participate in ensuring all collective bargaining agreements are funded.

Guardian Newsletter - Teamster Power


The new issue of our Guardian newsletter is now available. The Guardian focuses on news and information for our members who work at the Department of Corrections.

In February, we had our biggest, most successful Lobby Day ever, with 230 members and their families converging on the State Capitol in Olympia. Check out photos from the event in the Guardian here.

The newsletter also contains news of recent organizing at the Department of Corrections, with several unrepresented groups electing to join Teamsters. 

You can access the Guardian newsletter online. For print copies, talk to your Shop Steward or Business Rep.

Senate budget expected to be released this week


Now that we’ve reached the midpoint of legislative session, it's a good time for an update on policy issues that impact working families.

Several of our Union’s priorities, including many bills that we’ve been supporting, are still moving through the legislative process.

These include bills that would secure paid family leave (HB 1116), prescription drug transparency (HB 1541), and important accommodations for pregnant workers. In addition, our budget proviso that would fund an external staffing audit at the Department of Corrections is still in play.

These bills and provisions are important to protecting and expanding rights for working families and ensuring the safety and security of our members.

This session, we have also successfully staved off a massive attack on our state’s workers’ comp system and helped defeat a number of bills designed to erode protections for workers and weaken unions.  

Hundreds of union members turned out to testify against a so-called “right-to-work” bill aimed at crippling unions. We also beat back a bill that would have required annual union recertification and proposals that would weaken the state’s collective bargaining laws (SB 5726 and SB 5727).

Unfortunately, our bill to modify the Public Records Act to protect the personal information of members working in law enforcement and at the Department of Corrections did not move out of its policy committee. However, thanks to the fantastic turnout at our DOC Lobby Day event, we have secured commitments from a powerful group of legislators to work on the bill next legislative session.

Seventy-one correctional specialists just became Teamsters


Chad Young is one of our new members at the state's Department of Corrections.

Another group at the state's Department of Corrections has joined Teamsters 117. 

Seventy-one Correctional Specialist 2s were certified as Teamsters on Tuesday, March 7 by the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC).

That makes five DOC groups that have joined our Union or are awaiting PERC certification since December.

"We now have the backing of a whole organization rather than just being a lone voice."

"Gaining representation brings a lot of value," said Chad Young, a CS2 who helped with the organizing drive. "Now we have the backing of a whole organization rather than just being a lone voice."

Chad and his co-workers were motivated by a growing pay disparity between his CS2 group and members of the Teamsters bargaining unit. Represented DOC staff performing similar work were receiving $300 more a month.

The only difference was that he was responsible for training staff while they were training offenders."I felt like the state was putting less money toward training staff than training offenders," he said.

At first some of his co-workers were hesitant about joining the Union, but when he showed them the pay gap, they got on board. 

Now that the group is certified, they will have a chance to voice their priorities for bargaining, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

"I want to welcome these new members to our Union," said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. "We look forward to ensuring that their rights are protected and that they receive the outstanding representation they deserve."

DOC Shop Stewards Meeting at our Union Hall Today


We are welcoming seventy DOC Shop Stewards today for our annual meeting here at the Union hall.  

The meeting with our DOC members precedes our Shop Steward Seminar at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle tomorrow.

Members are rolling into town now. Our meeting will kick off at 12:30 P.M. after registration and lunch.

Today's agenda involves a presentation by Karen Estevenin, our Membership and Staff Development Coordinator, on how to exercise power in the workplace. We'll also be discussing how we can use Labor Management Communication Committees to engage members toward collective action.

Finally, our new Associate General Counsel, Marie Duarte, will lead the group on the Steward's Role in investigatory interviews.

Dinner will be at 6 P.M. when we will be presenting the award for the annual DOC Shop Steward of the Year. Stay tuned!

Schedule for DOC Quarterly Membership Meetings

Over the next month, we will be holding our quarterly membership meetings at DOC facilities across the state.

At the meeting, we will be discussing our strategy for ensuring that our contract gets funded by the state legislature. All DOC members are encouraged to attend!

You can view days, times, and facilities below. Click on the link to your facility for the location of your meeting and to RSVP.

Monday 3/6/2017 1130-1230, 1300-1400, 1410-1430 MCCCW
Tuesday 3/7/2017 1130-1430 AHCC
Tuesday 3/7/2017 1200-1500 WCC
Wednesday 3/8/2017 1130-1230, 1300-1400, 1410-1430
Wednesday 3/8/2017 1130-1430 CRCC
Monday 3/13/2017 1130-1430 LCC
Monday 3/13/2017 1130-1430 WSP
Monday 3/20/2017 1130-1430 MCC
Monday 3/20/2017 1130-1230, 1300-1400, 1410-1430
Wednesday 3/22/2017 1130-1430 CBCC
Thursday 3/23/2017 1130-1430 OCC
Thursday 3/30/2017 1130-1230, 1300-1400, 1410-1430

DOC member's daughter writes moving tribute to her mom


Connie Kanehailua in front of the State Capitol in Olympia at our DOC Lobby Day in 2015.

Check out this post. It was written by Farrah Edward, the daughter of one of our amazing members at the Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane. Farrah's mother, Dorcas (aka Connie) Kanehailua, embodies the kind of outstanding service that so many of our DOC members provide. Connie served our country in the Air Force and then the residents of our state in many roles at the DOC. On March 4, she received her 30-year service pin. Congrats, Connie, and thank you for your service.

Tribute to Connie Kanehailua - By Farrah Edward

I remember the day my mother was hired and started working at Airway Heights Correctional facility. She started as a transporter. At my young age, I didn't know what exactly she did other than drive people from prison to prison. Through dedication and hard work, she promoted to a guard working the night shift.

Mind you, she had 2 daughters at home and some how managed to keep us in line with homework and chores over the phone. At 5'5" she was not someone to reckon with! She was part of the prisons emergency tactical team. She came home, pulled out all her gear for me and my sister to see, smiling and proud. She was showing us her new moves fighting with the air as we sat on the couch and watched.

Her beautiful smile was deceiving when she told my sister to stand up so she could show her the 'Yoshida Come Along'. My sister, almost 6'0 tall at this time, confidently stood up, faced my mom and in split seconds, mom had her twisted up and "coming along". Me, I grabbed my hamster and puppy and exited to my room super fast.

It was then I knew a few things. 1) make sure I get my chores and homework done with out her telling me to 2) my mom is a bad ass and 3) don't let her size and smile fool you. I guess I should also add the prison is a male facility and over the years, she definitely held her own with them.

Mom later promoted to a counselor where she was instrumental in the rehabilitation of many, many people over the years. Her story is far greater than this little post but waking up to a picture of her 30 years of service plaque makes me super proud of her. She was active duty in the Air Force for 10 years later returning to the National Guard military police for another 15 years and retiring as a Master Sgt.

Mom, thank you for your service to our country, the state of Washington and most importantly for the sacrifices you made over the years for us girls. Super proud of you!!

Another DOC group joins Teamsters with PERC certification


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


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.