When we fight, we win!

Private Sector

Recycle driver George Blakey speaks out for your support


George Blakey is a Shop Steward who works as a driver at Republic Services. He is on our Union's bargaining committee.

My name is George Blakey. I am a Shop Steward and proud member of Teamsters Local 117 who works as a driver for Republic Services in the solid waste industry.

My co-workers and I are in the middle of a tough contract fight with our employer. On behalf of my fellow Teamsters and our families, I ask that you please sign a petition supporting us.

I haul away recycle and yard waste from businesses and customers who live in residential neighborhoods in and around Bellevue, WA.  

I encounter a lot of hazards on my route. I deal with rats, dirty diapers, and syringes in and around the cans, not to mention the dangerous equipment we operate. Maybe that’s why our job is consistently listed as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in America. 

I work hard to support my family and want to be treated with respect.

Right now that’s not happening. In contract negotiations, Republic is pitting Teamster against Teamster, recycle drivers against garbage drivers. 

Zoo secrets: How zookeepers' rights and wages keep the animals safe and happy


Peter Miller sitting against the glass of the penguin exhibit. He has worked at the Woodland Park Zoo for over a decade.

On a sunny day in May, along with toddlers and mothers in bright shirts and summer dresses, I headed to the Woodland Park Zoo. I was there to meet members of our union who work there, and Peter — a Shop Steward — was going to be my guide.

Peter has worked as a zookeeper for over twenty years both as a Teamster and as part of the nearly 90% of private sector US workers who do not belong to a union*. When I asked him about the difference, he said it was staggering. Job security was on top of the list as he mentioned that zoo keeping is one of the rare professions where job longevity is common as well as valuable. 

Republic drivers demand fairness, equity


Yard waste and recycle drivers who work at Republic standing together for fairness and equity.

Yard waste and recycle drivers who work at Republic Services filled our Union hall yesterday to demand equal pay for equal work. Drivers are in contract negotiations with their employer and are heading into discussions about economics this week.

The drivers work the same routes and drive the same trucks as their counterparts who haul away the garbage and yet they are compensated significantly less for their efforts. 

"We do the same job, we're driving the same equipment, we're on the road more because the facilities we work at are farther away. Why shouldn't we be paid equally?" said George Blakey, a Shop Steward who has driven for the company for thirteen years.

"It's a respect issue. There's no difference at all in what we do."

Fabio Desimone, a 23-year Teamster, who works out of Republic's yard in Kent, agrees. 

"Even the company is saying that we do the exact same job; they tell us that at our safety meetings. The route managers will come up and say we deserve to have parity. It's a respect issue. There's no difference at all in what we do. Same trucks, same job, same uniforms, same routes. Everything that we do is the exact same thing."

After yesterday's meeting, the drivers began wearing buttons and distributing petitions demanding parity.  "We rolled the petition out yesterday," Blakey said. "We've already got over 300 signatures." 

Republic is fully aware of our position and concerns surrounding the disparate compensation for its drivers," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, who is leading the negotiations. "Recycle and yard waste drivers are standing together to insist on equitable pay and comparable working conditions across the industry." 

Our Union bargaining team will be at the table with Republic all week. The drivers contract expires on May 31. The membership will hold a meeting on June 4 to either vote on a contract offer or to vote to authorize a strike.  

Please support drivers! Sign on to the petition demanding equal pay for equal work in the solid waste industry! 

International Workers Day 2017


On May 1, International Workers Day is celebrated around the globe to commemorate the dedication, struggle, and sacrifice of working people.

As a Union, we will be participating in Seattle's annual May Day March and Rally to speak out against proposed policy changes at the local, state and federal level that would harm working families and their unions.

We will be meeting today at Judkins Park (611 20th Ave. S.) in Seattle starting at 12 noon. Look for the Teamster banners and join us for the march!

Immigrants gather for resources, community and legal support


Members and their families at our Immigration Resource Fair on April 22 at the Union hall in Tukwila. 

About 50 members of Teamsters 117 and their families met at the Union hall in Tukwila on Saturday to attend our Immigration and Community Resource Fair.

Members browsed resource tables from several local advocacy organizations while their kids played board games and watched movies across the hall.

Our Comite Latino caucus grilled carne asada and veggie burgers, which they served with an assortment of salsas, cilantro, radishes, and onions.

The event featured three 30-minute know-your-rights trainings provided by one of our partner organizations, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo. The trainings were well attended and the feedback was positive.

"Our immigrant members are facing many challenges," said Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy. "We are happy to provide critical community and legal resources to ensure that our members know their rights in the workplace and in the community."

Check out photos from the event on our Flickr page here.

100% Yes Vote on Woodland Park Zoo Contract


Teamsters Local 117 represents approximately 65 Zookeepers, Warehousers, and Veterinary Technicians at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. 

Congratulations to our members at the Woodland Park Zoo on their new contract! 

Members voted to ratify the agreement yesterday. The vote was unanimous - 100% voted in favor of approving the proposal.

The agreement includes wage increases in each year of the contract and eliminates a controversial merit pay system. 

"Our members at the zoo do essential work that benefits all of us," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "They care for the animals, teach conservation and ecology, and help bring joy to the over 1 million visitors to the zoo each year. They deserve a contract that reflects the valuable contributions they make to our community."  

Shop Steward Peter Miller was inspired by the vote:

"Everything I learned in shop steward training paid off: listening, hearing, organizing, surveying, sharing and supporting. But most of all believing. Believing that if you really want to make changes, it can happen. Your union is not only that negotiator and business rep and shop steward. It is you and in what you believe to be how you want the terms and conditions of your employment to be. "

Teamsters help fight homelessness through tiny house project


It was an impressive sight. Fifty volunteers, all union members, coming together to fight homelessness. Teamsters working together with Machinists, working with members of the Building Trades and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.

The group set out to build two tiny houses at our Teamsters Union hall on Saturday, and they succeeded in spectacular fashion. The new structures will be transported to a local homeless camp in the coming weeks.

"With all of the uncertainty in our world, this represents hope," said Cynthia Adams, a member of our Local 117 Executive Board who works at King County, as she observed the group's progress.

The volunteers hammered out the frames in just a few hours, added siding, insulation, doors, windows, and a roof. One house was completely finished by day's end. The second house is nearly completed as well.

 "What a fantastic project," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "We are proud to give back to our community by adding Teamster labor to this great cause. Thank you to the many volunteers who lent a hand in this effort. You make our union and our community strong."

Teamsters will build tiny houses to fight homelessness


Join us as we partner with several other Unions this Saturday to construct two tiny houses in an effort to help combat homelessness.

Three Teamster Locals as well as members of the Seattle King County Building Trades, the Machinists Union, and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council will be lending a hand on the project. 

The event will take place this Saturday, April 22 starting at 8 a.m. at our Union hall in Tukwila. Volunteers are needed any time between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. A barbecue lunch will be served.

Contact Mary Keefe at 206-441-0763 or Mary.Keefe@teamsters763.org for more information.


Congrats to Beckendorf Scholarship Recipient, Michelle To


Congratulations to Michelle To, the daughter of Phuong To, a Teamster Local 117 member who works at Sysco. 

Michelle is one of the recipients of this year's Jerry Beckendorf Scholarship. Since 2003, the Jerry Beckendorf Community Services Scholarship program has awarded approximately $50,000 to dozens of graduating seniors from Union families living in Pierce County.

Michelle was presented with the award at the Pierce County Central Labor Council meeting on April 12. When she was called up to receive her certificate, all the Teamsters in the house came up to stand with her in support.

Here are a few words about Michelle and her future plans courtesy of the the PCCLC:

Michelle is graduating from Rogers High School and plans on attending the University of Washington for a degree in Pre-Medicine as well as Bioengineering.

Michelle will be the first of her family to attend college, and has set the bar high for herself while remaining humble. She has spent over 1,000 hours giving back to her community through tutoring kids, packaging food, and cleaning and refurbishing toys for low-income children.

Michelle aspires to make a bigger difference in the world by administering medical help and making discoveries in medicine by becoming a Bio-medical engineer.

For her leadership and volunteer work we award her $750.

Seattle for-hire drivers vow to continue organizing efforts


Uber drivers at the company office in Tukwila on April 4. The group was there to protest unfair deactivation.

Judge Lasnik Emphasizes Order Should Not be Read as Harbinger of Final Decision  

Seattle for-hire drivers who are seeking to unionize under the city’s new collective bargaining law are determined to continue their organizing efforts after a federal district court judge issued an order temporarily blocking the new law.

"This is just going to make us come together and fight more."

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not going to stop us,” said Musse Bahta, who has driven for Uber for four years. “There are so many drivers who are ready to stand up for their rights. We are standing together with our union. This is just going to make us come together and fight more.”

Another Uber driver, Peter Kuel, also vowed to continue the organizing efforts. “The judge needs to understand what we’re going through. It’s too much. We feel the pain doing this job. We are not going to give up. We will continue fighting for those who cannot speak themselves,” he said.

Don Creery, a union supporter who has been driving with Uber since 2014, said drivers are facing so many issues that the ruling would not prevent them from continuing to seek representation.

“There are so many problems. We’re not being paid adequately. That means you work longer hours, which means you’re not safe. We have no benefits – that’s an issue. I work full-time for a 70 billion company. The American taxpayers should not have to subsidize my health care. That’s not right.”

In his ruling, Judge Lasnik made it clear that the temporary injunction should not be interpreted as indicative of a final decision in the case:

“The Court emphasizes that this Order should not be read as a harbinger of what the ultimate decision in this case will be when all dispositive motions are fully briefed and considered. The plaintiffs have raised serious questions that deserve careful, rigorous judicial attention, not a fast-tracked rush to judgment based on a date that has no extrinsic importance.”

For more information, please contact Dawn Gearhart at 206-794-6678 or dawn.gearhart@teamsters117.org