As the assault on working families in Wisconsin and around the country intensifies, Local 117 Shop Stewards are preparing for battle.
On Saturday, March 12, over 300 Stewards gathered at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle for the annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day to discuss the ominous developments in Wisconsin and elsewhere as State governments across the country move to eliminate collective bargaining rights for Union workers. For information about how you can support Wisconsin working families, click here.
In her annual State of the Union address, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson emphasized the critical nature of the moment and issued a call-to-arms:
“As the foot soldiers of this Union, I am calling on Shop Stewards to take the lead in our fight to protect and expand the rights of working families. We cannot allow a handful of radical politicians in Wisconsin and elsewhere to destroy the American middle class that Unions have fought for decades to build.”
After discussing the Union’s strategic priorities, Thompson identified political action as the theme of this year’s seminar and a critical component in the effort to combat the assault on working families.
“Over the last year, Local 117 has built a powerhouse political action program that has involved hundreds of members in the political process. Members have attended PAC meetings, lobbied in Olympia, called and written their representatives as we fight to protect the rights of working people,” she said. For more information about your Union’s political action program, click here.
In keeping with the theme, Washington Teamsters (JC #28) Political Action Director Heather Weiner demystified the lobbying process in an interactive presentation entitled "How to Date your Politician in 10 Easy Steps."
The two frontrunners in the bid for next year's Governor's race, Congressman Jay Inslee and Attorney General Rob McKenna, also addressed the group. Stewards were pleased to hear that both Inslee and McKenna committed in their talks to protecting collective bargaining rights for state employees and both said they supported interest arbitration for correctional employees.
“We’re going to hold them to that,” said Sid Clark, a Steward at Larch Corrections Center and this year’s Department of Corrections Steward of the Year.
Before lunch, participants attended two breakout sessions. Organizer Brenda Wiest and Political Action Coordinator Lily Wilson-Codega engaged Stewards in a discussion over the use of political pressure in last year’s successful campaign against Waste Management, while Organizer Pedro Olguin and Business Representative Cecil Fouts led a panel discussion about building “Communication Action Networks” (CANs) as a means of strengthening our Union.
At the end of the event, each Shop Steward took home a Teamsters Local 117 lunch tote bag as a thank you for the tremendous work they do in building a strong Union that fights to protect and expand the rights of working families.