When we fight, we win!

Teamsters 117 Wire

Power & unity on display as DOC stewards assemble for training, negotiations prep


DOC Shop Stewards gather to build power and unity and at the Teamsters hall on March 16.

Dozens of our shop stewards who work for the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) gathered at the union hall in Tukwila today for training, discussion, and preparation for upcoming contract negotiations.

The event was the part of our annual shop steward seminar, which will bring all Local 117 stewards together tomorrow, March 17, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Today’s program kicked off with a review of the roles and responsibilities of shop stewards. The group brainstormed best practices for confronting management and for defending members’ rights under the contract.

Our union’s political team, Dustin Lambro and Brenda Wiest, talked about our recent successes in Olympia this legislative session. Most notably, we were able to achieve funding in the state budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the DOC, something we have been fighting for over the last several years.

Stewards devoted some of the training to preparing for open shop, which we expect will be coming to the DOC and other public sector workplaces this spring. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the Janus v AFSCME case, which will likely change the rules for public sector union members and threatens our right to stand together for strong contracts.

“My main goal is to make sure that everybody is on board to commit to keep our union strong,” said Teresa Bennett, a pharmacy technician with over 20 years with the state. “I remind my co-workers - the union isn’t only about protecting people who get in trouble. It’s about better health care, better wages, and better working conditions. At the pharmacy, if the union hadn’t been there to negotiate, the state would have probably gotten rid of our jobs.”

"My main goal is to make sure that everybody is on board to commit to keep our union strong."

The DOC steward's program concluded with a strategy session to prepare for upcoming DOC contract negotiations, which are scheduled to get started this May.

“Teamsters who work in corrections put their lives on the line to protect the public,” said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. “Our stewards are the first line of defense. They enforce our contract, engage in tough negotiations with management, keep the membership informed, and have each other’s backs. Their service is indispensable to the strength and power of our union.”

Shop Stewards join forces this weekend for annual seminar

It’s always an impressive display of Teamster unity and pride – hundreds of Local 117 shop stewards joining together for our Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation day.

“Our stewards are the backbone of this union,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “They enforce our contracts, defend the rights of their co-workers, and sit face-to-face with the employer to improve conditions in the workplace. It’s an honor to work with them to improve lives and lift up our communities.”

"Our stewards are the backbone of this union."

The annual event will kick off this Friday with our Department of Corrections stewards gathering for training and dinner at the union hall in Tukwila. On Saturday all stewards will convene at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle for the main event.

The theme of this year’s seminar is the Janus v AFSCME court case that threatens our freedom to stand together and bargain strong contracts in the public sector. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case last month and a ruling is expected this spring.

“With the Janus decision on the horizon and the continued degradation of our middle class, it’s more important than ever to protect our ability to fight for our rights, benefits, and wages,” said Chris Franco, a Local 117 member who works at King County.

At the seminar, we’ll hear a legal analysis of the case from Marie Duarte, our associate general counsel. Our breakout sessions will focus on how we can best prepare for the change in rules we anticipate in the public sector.

If you have questions about this event, please touch base with your union representative. 

Great news! State budget includes funding for DOC staffing level audit


We did it! Thanks to your efforts, the legislature allocated funding in the state budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the Department of Corrections.

The Department has been operating under a staffing model that has not been reviewed in 30 years. An external audit of DOC staffing levels is an important step toward making our prisons safer for DOC Teamsters.

This is OUR victory. It's something we've been working towards as a union for the past four years. All of your lobby visits, phone calls and emails to legislators made the difference. 

Thank you for your hard work and congrats!

You can access a complete report from the 2018 legislative session to learn about other legislative accomplishments that impact Local 117 members.

Historic wins for workers as legislative session wraps up


Teamsters gather on the steps of the State Capitol in Olympia during our Lobby Day event on February 13. 

The 2018 legislative session wrapped up yesterday with some historic wins for workers.

The legislature passed a number of measures that expand our rights in the workplace and protect working families. For members of our union, we were successful in achieving many of our legislative priorities.

Thanks to your efforts at our lobby day in February, we secured funding in the budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the Department of Corrections.

This represents a major victory for our DOC members. The DOC has been operating under a staffing model that has not been reviewed in 30 years.

The current model does not account for the deficiencies of the aging facilities and the additional demands placed on staff through previous legislative change. This has led to serious safety concerns in an already dangerous environment.

An audit at the DOC is an important step in making our prisons safer for the staff who risk their lives to protect us.

Several hundred DOC members will also benefit from a bill (HB 1558) that provides greater retirement security through a modest expansion of the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS). 

Through our lobbying efforts, Local 117 members were instrumental in helping to pass a measure (SB 6229) that carves out time for unions to provide orientation to new employees. 

Some additional highlights include the passage of laws that ensure gender equity in the workplace (HB 1506), remove barriers to voting (SB 6002), and expand workers' comp insurance coverage for law enforcement (SB 1614) and for Hanford workers suffering from occupational disease (HB 1773). 

Many of these bills had been languishing in Olympia for years. Thanks to your lobby visits, phone calls and emails, and a new worker-friendly majority in the legislature, we are seeing many policy changes that will strengthen our communities and make a difference in the lives of working families.

Thanks also to Brenda Wiest, our outstanding Director of Legislative Affairs, who spent countless hours in Olympia representing the rights of Local 117 members. We couldn't have done it without Brenda's expertise!


Women's History Month: Celebrating strong, fearless Teamster women


This month we honor our remarkable Teamster Sisters and all of the women friends, co-workers, and extended family members in our lives.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize the extraordinary economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe. Teamster women in particular have fought tirelessly on the front lines of our union's 115-year history for equality and justice.

Our predecessors marched in the suffragette movement for the right to vote; we organized on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement; and we have fought for decades for equal pay in the workplace. We can be proud of our accomplishments, which have advanced the rights of all workers and have shaped our collective history.

At Teamsters Local 117, Tracey A. Thompson became the first woman to serve as our union’s principal officer and the first woman on the Executive Board of Joint Council 28. Tracey brought fearlessness, fortitude and compassion to our union’s efforts to improve lives and lift up our communities. Both Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and I strive to honor and carry forth that legacy as we work to build power and unity for all members of Teamsters Local 117

On our union’s Flickr page you can view just a few of the many amazing women leaders across our Local Union who have joined in the advancement of equality and workplace rights.

Please join me as we celebrate our bold Teamster sisterhood. Thank you for your service to our communities and for your membership in Teamsters 117.

Press operators at the Seattle Times celebrate new contract


Teamster press operators at the Seattle Times celebrate after ratifying their contract. 

Teamsters who operate the presses at the Seattle Times are celebrating their new contract. The group voted overwhelmingly to ratify the agreement last weekend.

Highlights of the pact include a meaningful bump in hourly wages and improvements to sick time and holiday pay.  

 “We’ve been trying to get double time and a half for holiday pay forever,” said Tyrone Love, a shop steward and pressman of 22 years. “This time we were able to get it for three of the major holidays – Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. Guys are really happy about that.”

Meet Amy Ford, our new Rep at WSP


Welcome to our new union rep, Amy Ford!

Amy has worked at the Washington State Penitentiary since 2012 where she started in Health Services as a patient and staff scheduler. Later she worked with a correctional program manager and volunteered facilitating offender change programs. Before that, she was a Financial Counselor at the Walla Walla Medical Clinic.

For the last two and a half years, Amy has been a shop steward. The drive behind her work is a passion for knowledge and workers’ rights. She never stops learning and is currently finishing her degree in IT Administration and Business Management.

Amy is a mom to four beautiful children and is active in her local church. How does she manage to keep up with it all? She cites reading as a de-stresser.

Amy is a wonderful addition to our team and will be representing Teamsters at the Washington State Penitentiary. We wish you best of luck!

DOC Contract Proposal Meetings - Dates, TImes, and Locations


In April, we will be holding contract proposal meetings for all DOC Teamsters to prepare for bargaining over your 2019-2121 collective bargaining agreement.

Your feedback is important! Your bargaining team will use your input from these meetings to develop proposals for negotiations. Please bring your priorities to the meeting. Thank you!

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

Monday 4/2/2018 0500, 0630, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1630 SCCC
Tuesday 4/3/2018 0630, 0900, 1130, 1430, 1630 MCC
Wednesday 4/4/2018 0500, 0630, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1630 LCC
Wednesday 4/4/2018 0530, 0625, 0800, 1130, 1415, 1530 AHCC
Thursday 4/5/2018 0500, 0630, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1630 CCCC
Thursday 4/5/2018 0600, 0800, 1130, 1300, 1415, 1530, 1630, 1800 CRCC
Thursday 4/5/2018 0700, 1330 CI
Friday 4/6/2018 1100, 1200 SWRBO
Friday 4/6/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 MCCCW
Monday 4/9/2018 1100, 1400, 1530, 2100, 2200 WCC
Tuesday 4/10/2018 0500, 0625, 0800, 1130, 1415, 1630 WSP
Tuesday 4/10/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 WCCW
Wednesday 4/11/2018 0830, 1000 MICC
Wednesday 4/11/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 OCC
Thursday 4/12/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 CBCC
Thursday 4/12/2018 1130 Central Pharmacy
Friday 4/13/2018 1100, 1200 DOC HQ


Local 117 ST Scearcy Recognized with Best Principal Officer Award at MLKCLC Labor Oscars

Teamsters Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy receives the "Best Principal Officer" award of an affiliate union at the MLKCLC anniversary celebration. 

It was a good day at the Oscars for Teamsters 117! Our union was recognized with three “Labor Oscar” awards, including Best Principal Officer, John Scearcy, at the Martin Luther King Central Labor Council’s 130 gala anniversary celebration.

The event, which was held last Saturday at the Museum of History and Industry, celebrated “the great work being done to improve the lives of working people” across our region.

Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy was recognized by MLKCLC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Grant for “his principled and strategic leadership of the Uber and Lyft organizing campaign, the unity in his diverse ranks, his intentional decision to hire staff from immigrant communities and communities of color, and constantly working his ass off for his members.”

In accepting the award, Scearcy said, “This recognizes the work of more than one person… our staff, our staff’s families, our members, and our members’ families – I share this with everybody.”

You can watch his entire acceptance speech on Facebook here.

The MLKCLC Labor Awards for Teamsters Local 117   

  • Best Principal Officer: John Scearcy - of Teamsters 117 for "constantly working his ass off for his members."
  • Best Organizing Campaign: Teamsters 117 for "successful organizing of paratransit, taxi cab, and app-based drivers."
  • Best Political Campaign: The Burien Fantastic Four - consisting of Pedro Olguin, member of Teamsters 117, Jimmy Matta, member of Carpenters 41, Krystal Marx, and Nancy Tosta and run by Guillermo Mogollan-Diego.

View all of the award winners on the MLKCLC’s website.

King County Total Comp Negotiations Get Rolling

Our Local 117 bargaining team for King County Total Comp negotiations.

Your union bargaining committee worked overtime last year to achieve a first-ever Master Labor Agreement with the County.

Members in all of our participating Teamster bargaining units voted overwhelmingly to ratify the MLA and their unit’s appendix agreement earlier this year. Voter turnout was historically high.

The agreement achieved a 3.25% general wage increase for 2018 along with a number of other enhancements to your rights at work.  You will receive the MLA wage increase retroactive to January 1, 2018 as soon as the contract makes its way through the Council’s transmittal process. 

Now our bargaining team is back at the table for a new round of negotiations. “Total Comp” negotiations between our Coalition of Unions and the County kicked off yesterday at our Teamsters hall in Tukwila.

While the MLA consolidated the strongest elements of union contracts across the County into one Master agreement, Total Comp deals with economics only – your wages and health care for 2019-2020.

Yesterday’s session was devoted to introductions and establishing ground rules. One of our shop stewards on the bargaining team, Lisa Huntley, who works in the County’s Solid Waste Division, expressed our union’s expectations for these negotiations.

“We can see in the area how much our property taxes have gone up and how much it costs to live here. That needs to be reflected in our wages,” she said. “We also need to maintain our health benefits and address general equity issues.”

"We can see in the area how much our property taxes have gone up and how much it costs to live here."

Our next meeting with the County is scheduled for Thursday, March 22. We expect these negotiations will run into the summer of this year. We will keep you updated as they progress.

If you have questions, please contact your bargaining committee member or your Union Representative. 

Your Teamsters Local 117 Total Comp bargaining Team

  • Teresa Allen, WTD - Renton
  • Steven Baruso, WTD - Finance
  • Amon Billups, Jr, PT&A
  • Chris Boyle, WTD - Managers
  • Lynn Constantine, PT&A
  • Terry De Priest, DOT JUA
  • Dan Fernandez, POA
  • Mari Jane Friel, Utilities, Roads/Fall City 
  • Machelle Gatewood, DOT JUA
  • Cheryl Ann Gunderson,  CIT - KCIT 
  • George Horning, IT Mgrs/Sups
  • Steve Huang, WTD - West Point
  • Lisa Huntley, Solid Waste Division 
  • Rochelle James, RALS
  • Lisa Longdon, PT&A
  • Vicki Moore, Elections
  • Dan Nwaelele, PT&A
  • Lisa Ohlen, RALS
  • Brian Pinney, Solid Waste Division/Cedar Hills 
  • Gregory Raburn, PT&A
  • Rick Reinlasoder, PT&A
  • Robin Robinson, WTD
  • Candi Santo, PT&A
  • Robert Stalnaker, King County Sheriff’s Office
  • Debbie Valle, PAO
  • Lester Van Gelder, WTD
  • Kathleen Vanderpool, PT&A

Op-Ed: WSP member urges Teamsters to stand strong & commit to each other


Teamsters in the news! Sammi Muecke, a Local 117 member who works at the Washington State Penitentiary, has published a guest editorial piece in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. Sammi talks about the need to stand strong and stick together in the face of the Janus court case and open shop.

Thank you, Sammi, for making your voice heard!

U.S. Supreme Court Threatens to Divide Prison Staff
By S.L Muecke

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case, Janus v AFSCME, which could negatively impact public service unions across the country.

As union members employed at the Washington State Penitentiary, many of my co-workers and I are deeply concerned. If the Court rules as expected, so-called “right-to-work” would become the law of the land in all public sector workplaces.

Workers will be able to opt-out of paying their fair share in dues but will continue to reap all of the benefits of their union contract and representation without having to pay anything for it.

This threatens to divide us and weaken our union. Our ability to speak out for fair conditions at work, strong protections in our contract, and safety on the job are at stake.

My experience with the dismal working conditions in a right-to-work state is telling. In 2012, my husband and I moved to North Carolina, where I worked as a teacher in the public schools. What were the consequences of that move? I took a $7,000 annual pay cut, lost all of my health benefits and most of my paid holidays.

The state’s hiring standards were abysmally low and many teachers were underqualified. At end of the day, it was our students who paid the price for “right to work.”

Here in Washington State, my union fights for competitive wages, decent health benefits, and safe working conditions for me and my co-workers. We can hold our bosses accountable and are protected from arbitrary firing. We cannot be “let go” or forced out as we near retirement age. Our years of experience and service matter.

These protections and legitimate “rights at work” are especially important when facing the dangers that exist inside a prison. As a union, we have each other’s backs. Together, we look out for each other and make sure that our jobs are safe and secure.

In Olympia, members of Teamsters Local 117 worked together to extend critical benefits for officers and other prison staff who are assaulted on the job. This allows us to continue to support our families and care for ourselves when we have been injured in the line of duty.

The Washington State Penitentiary employs well over a thousand employees. We are officers, sergeants, counselors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, prison chaplains, clerical staff, maintenance staff, and many others. We put our lives on the line every day when we report to work.

Imagine all of us talking all at once about our own individual workplace concerns. The result would be a cacophonous mess without direction or power. Our union allows us to express our concerns with one powerful voice.

We may not be able to prevent the Court from ruling against us in the Janus case, but we can continue to stand together with one united front and speak with one voice. Apart, we are powerless, rudderless and too easily ignored. Together we are strong.

S.L. Muecke works in the mailroom at the Washington State Penitentiary. She is a member of Teamsters Local 117, which represents 5600 employees at the Department of Corrections statewide.

Fortifying our union in the face of the Janus threat


Local 117 members Robin Robinson and Joy Yarrington who work at King County proudly wearing their solidarity stickers.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a case (Janus v AFSCME) that is attacking our ability as union members to stand together and negotiate strong contracts.

If the Court rules as expected, public service workers, including thousands of members of Teamsters 117, will lose their freedom to negotiate union security clauses in their contracts.

Members will be able to “opt-out” of paying their fair share in dues but will be able to continue to reap all of the benefits of their union contract and union representation. Our ability to stand together and bargain strong contracts, provide quality representation, and protect each other’s rights at work is at stake.

"I want us to continue having a strong union," said Robin Robinson, a Teamster who works at King County. "We need to make sure everyone is aware of what's happening so we can keep our communities strong."

"We need to make sure everyone is aware of what's happening so we can keep our communities strong."

Wealthy special interests like the “Freedom” Foundation that are backing the Janus case are banking on a ruling against unions. They may call, email or even visit you at home to mislead you into abandoning your union sisters and brothers.

Make no mistake — their goal is to cut or privatize public services, drain unions of resources, and outsource public sector jobs. The Freedom Foundation fought against funding our Department of Corrections contract. They have sponsored numerous initiatives to undermine the ability of workers to organize for higher wages, strong benefits, and safe working conditions.

To draw attention to the threat presented by Janus and the Freedom Foundation, Teamsters 117 members and public service workers across the country have called for a day of action.

Local 117 members who work at the Department of Corrections, King County, and in the South Sound are wearing solidarity stickers today to spread awareness about the case and the importance of committing to each other so that we can continue to have a strong union.


By sticking together, we can stand up to the Freedom Foundation’s anti-worker agenda and continue to improve our workplaces and our lives.

Public Sector Teamsters: Wear your solidarity stickers on Monday!


On Monday, February 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case (Janus v AFSCME) that will likely harm our ability as union members to stand together and negotiate strong contracts.

Public service workers across the country have called for a Day of Action on Feb. 26.

On Monday, Teamsters 117 members will be wearing solidarity stickers to spread awareness about the case and the importance of committing to each other so that we can continue to have a strong union.

Your union rep or member leader will be distributing stickers to you on Monday. Please wear your sticker and talk to your co-workers about why it's important to show solidarity in the face of this impending threat. 

For more information about the Janus case, visit www.FamilyStrengthCommunity.org.

Thank you for your service and for all that you do to make our union strong.

DOC Teamsters: Act now to protect your right to privacy

The State Senate took an important first step toward protecting your personal information by passing SB 6079 earlier this month. The bill ensures that individuals or entities cannot access your birth date through public disclosure requests.

But to have a chance at becoming law, the bill also needs to pass the State House, and time is running out. We need to contact our Representatives in the House immediately and tell them to protect our privacy. 

As DOC employees, we know the dangers of our personal information falling into the wrong hands. 

TAKE ACTION! Call the Legislative Hotline in Olympia at 1-800-562-6000 now! Tell your House Representatives that you work at the DOC and have a right to privacy. Tell them to protect your personal information by passing SB 6079 immediately.

Thank you for speaking out to protect your privacy.

Teamsters 117 nominated for eight labor awards, including best overall union


Our union is up for the Oscars! Local 117 has received eight nominations for recognition by the Martin Luther King Central Labor Council, including Best Overall Union and our Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, nominated for Best Principal Officer.

The MLKCLC will present the labor "Oscar" awards this Saturday at its 130th anniversary celebration.

Recognition will go to unions that are making the greatest impact on the lives of their members and of working families across the Pacific Northwest.

Teamsters 117 has been nominated for outstanding achievement in the following categories:

"We are excited and grateful to be recognized by the MLKCLC through this nomination process," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "Our member leaders and staff work incredibly hard to fight to improve conditions for workers and make a positive impact on our communities."

If you are interested in attending the MLKCLC labor Oscars event, tickets are $50 and seats are still available. Click here for more information.