When we fight, we win!

Private Sector

Teamsters at GP Gypsum Ratify 4-Year Contract


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."

David Storaasli joins our staff as a new Union Rep.


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.

Welcome, Takele Gobena, New Union Representative


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:

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!


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.”

Thank you Teamsters at Farmer Bros!


Thank you to 24-year member Stuart Smith and our other members at Farmer Bros. Coffee for keeping us stocked with tea, hot chocolate, and that daily Cup of Joe!

Recycle and yard waste negotiations kick off next year

New buttons just in! Our recycle and yard waste drivers perform the same difficult, dangerous work as other drivers in the industry. We'll be working next year to make sure their compensation reflects that.


Check out what our member at Ryerson won at the Holiday Meeting!


Congrats! to Binh Pham, Local 117 member at Ryerson. Binh was one of the winners at our Holiday Membership Meeting on December 15. Enjoy your holiday football, brother!

Teamsters 117 joins international effort to ensure fair working conditions in the gig economy

A network of European and North American unions, labor confederations, and worker organizations issued a call yesterday for transnational cooperation between workers, worker organizations, platform clients, platform operators, and regulators to ensure fair working conditions and worker participation in governance in the growing world of digital labor platforms such as Clickworker, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Jovoto, and Uber.

The growth of “platform-based work” poses both opportunities and risks for workers and for society at large, and is a chance for a “co-operative turn” in the relationship between worker organizations and management, according to the document, titled the “Frankfurt Paper on Platform-Based Work.”

The participating organizations made the following joint statement:

“In the context of globalization, digitalization, ‘flexibilization’ of work, growing income inequality within countries, and growing political polarization in Europe and the United States, fair, socially sustainable work and real worker participation in shaping working conditions are more important than ever. This is just as true on digital platforms as in industrial manufacturing and office work. If our democratic societies are to stay democratic, workers must have democratic influence over the governance of work. Digitalization does not need to contribute to rising income inequality and polarized politics. Businesses, workers, and regulators have a common interest in ensuring that the benefits of digitalization are shared broadly and equitably — and worker participation in the governance of work is a historically proven mechanism for doing so. Against the risk of ‘digital feudalism,’ platform operators, workers, worker organizations, clients, researchers, and regulators must work together to bring democracy to these new digital workplaces.”

Fred Meyer member writes about his trip to D.C. to fight for fair trade


By Cody Harris
Teamster at Fred Meyer

The TPP is dead, international trade and future trade deals are alive and well

International trade is a key driver of Washington State’s economy with two out of every five jobs in Washington tied to trade. Furthermore, Washington is the gateway to Asia and is home to a wide diversity of businesses that leverage that position in global markets. This positioning means that 25% of jobs related to trade in Washington State are directly linked to imports.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a multi-national trade agreement between twelve of the Pacific Rim countries including Canada, Mexico and Japan with the United States.

Local 117 Member Registers 14,000th Voter


After the infamous 2000 election, Deb Dahlin made it her mission to help more people vote. With only a 537 vote margin in Florida separating George W. Bush from Al Gore, she saw the importance of each vote.

In 2000 there were over 4.7 million people eligible to vote in Florida that did not cast a ballot. Many of them simply were not registered. After Deb saw this, she set out to register 537 voters in Washington. She started with friends and her Teamster coworkers at Macy's. And, within a short time she had reached her goal.