Over 30 members from all across our Union - public sector, private sector and the DOC - teamed up on January 31 to fight on behalf of working families on the second of four planned Local 117 lobby days this legislative session in Olympia.
Correctional workers joined forces with warehouse workers on strike at United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI); there were members from Safeway, King County, and Seafreeze.
DIVERSITY = POWER
“Our power at Local 117 is in our diversity,” said Sidney Clark, a Classification Counselor at the Larch Correctional Center near Vancouver, WA.
“When a legislator sees someone from Safeway lobbying on issues that concern me, they take note,” he said.
Clark, a veteran lobbyist who was instrumental in helping to pass a bill that will provide more professional uniforms for our State’s correctional workers, gave the group some advice in an orientation before members headed out to their legislative appointments.
“Tell your story, speak from the heart, and don’t be intimidated,” he said. “These legislators work for you.”
Members spoke with legislators on a wide range of issues, including the importance of preserving our collective bargaining rights, preserving our State’s workers’ compensation system, obtaining the right to paid sick leave, defending the rights of taxi drivers, and promoting a bill that would guarantee interest arbitration rights for Local 117 correctional employees.
“It’s important that the legislators hear from labor so that we can get bills passed that support family-wage jobs and all of the issues that help create a healthy, viable life here in Washington State,” said Azziem Underwood, a Local 117 Shop Steward at King County.
FIGHTING FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS
“I came down to support everything about 117,” said Matthew Komparta of Safeway. Komparta, who said he has friends at the Department of Corrections, planned to talk with legislators about the interest arbitration bills in the House and the Senate.
Officer Shane Zey of the Monroe Correctional Complex had come for the same reason.
“We’re working hard to get interest arbitration passed. It’s the key to unlocking our future. If we can get it, it’s a whole new ballgame of respect and dignity and being treated fairly,” Zey said.
Thank you to Local 117 Political Action Coordinator Lily Wilson-Codega and Lobbyist Teresita Torres for making the event possible. There will be three more Lobby Days during this year’s legislative session: February 21, March 21, and April 18. If you are interested in participating, contact Lily at 206-794-6673.