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Teamsters 117 Wire

DOC Bargaining Team Negotiates Voluntary Furloughs

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Members of DOC bargaining committee 2020 (left to right): Kimberly Cook, Christopher Lukens, Becky HaneyNixon, James Deuel.


Last Thursday and Friday, our Union Bargaining Committee met with the State to begin negotiations over our 2021-2023 contract with the DOC. 

Our Union team consists of 19 rank-and-file members from facilities across the State along with 7 Teamster staff members.  

These negotiations are unlike anything we've experienced before. Due to the coronavirus crisis, all bargaining sessions are conducted remotely using Zoom. Ordinarily, our Union team would have passed an initial comprehensive language proposal at the outset of negotiations. Instead, our discussions on both days revolved around the impact of COVID-19 and the State’s budget problems.

As you know, the operational impact on the agency has been profound. This is especially true given the recent outbreak at Coyote Ridge and the establishment of Regional Care Facilities at AHCC, MCC, and WCC. 

In Thursday's negotiation session, we spent most of the day discussing the Governor's announcement to eliminate raises and issue mandatory furloughs for some State employees. As expected, we received confirmation that your 4% general wage increase is secure. We also have strong legal footing that protects us against the Governor's unilateral furloughs.

At the direction of your rank and file bargaining committee, we have reached an agreement with the State on a Memorandum of Understanding. We did not agree to allow the State to impose mandatory furloughs. Rather, our agreement will allow bargaining unit members to participate in furloughs through a volunteer process as outlined in your Collective Bargaining Agreement.  

Bargaining unit members who volunteer to be furloughed will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits to help offset the impact of the reduced hours. The State will apply to participate in the SharedWork program which allows employees to collect partial unemployment while their work hours are reduced. This option of applying for voluntary lay-offs and/or reduction in work hours will be available through July 25th, 2020. Additionally, members may qualify for up to an additional $600 per week through the C.A.R.E.S. Act during this time.  

The State will work with Employment Security Department (ESD) for educational guidance and assistance with the application process. Please look for information from the agency with the details on how to apply.

These furloughs are not mandatory for Teamsters and members must utilize this form to volunteer to participate.

Your Teamsters contract is strong and protects you from the mandatory 1 day per week furloughs. However, the severity of the crisis that has profoundly impacted our lives and the projected Washington State budget deficit of $8.8 billion is real. With access to the SharedWork program, coupled with the additional benefit of the $600 per week through the C.A.R.E.S. Act, we encourage each of you to assess whether or not you are able and eligible to apply.

If you have questions, please speak with a member on your Union Negotiations Committee. For questions about voluntary furloughs, please contact your local HR department. Our next negotiation sessions are scheduled for July 1-2.


Governor cannot furlough, cut Teamster wages without negotiating

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You may have seen in the news that the Governor has announced he is cancelling raises and issuing mandatory furloughs for some state employees.

As Teamsters, we have strong protections in our collective bargaining agreement and through the interest arbitration process that require the State to negotiate with us over issues related to economics. As a result, the Governor cannot furlough our members without the State first engaging us in negotiations. This is good news for members of Teamsters 117.

We were also notified that some State employees just had their raises cancelled. However, as a Teamster, you are receiving your 4% general wage increase effective July 1.

Our Union is strong, but our strength is not something that can be taken for granted.


DOC 4% wage increase scheduled to take effect July 1

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We have received a lot of questions and concerns about how the pandemic might impact the previously negotiated general wage increase for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.

As a reminder, in our last round of contract negotiations, we achieved an 8% general wage increase for DOC Teamsters over the 2019-2021 biennium. This compares to a 6% increase for general government employees. Any change to what was achieved through collective bargaining and the interest arbitration process would require legislative action.

Although we do not anticipate that happening, it is not outside the realm of possibility given the magnitude of the crisis. You may have even seen in the news that some, including the Seattle Times editorial board, are calling on the legislature to cancel your raises.

As things currently stand, it appears that the crisis will not impact your scheduled wage increase, and you will receive your 4% general wage increase effective July 1


ST Message: Fighting racism and standing up for social justice

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Sisters and Brothers - 

Last Friday, members of our Union joined 60,000 others in a peaceful, silent march to protest the murder of George Floyd and to engage in the urgent and longstanding efforts against racism. It was powerful to see many Unions there, including UFCW, teachers, operating engineers, and longshoreman, along with community organizations and retired police.

Many of our members expressed deep gratitude for our participation in the march. They are incredibly proud to see their Local Union advancing the cause of racial justice. Others are upset or even infuriated by our involvement in the event.

In a large Union with a diverse membership and many points of view, a moment like this can be a painful reminder of all that divides us. But a tragedy like the death of George Floyd can also be an opportunity for healing, deeper understanding, and for change.


King County stewards meet to strategize over 2020 negotiations

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Essential Teamster road crew out of King County's Fall City depot is ready to hit the streets!


As the coronavirus crisis has touched all of our lives, our Union at King County has been working to adapt.

In April, Teamsters 117, as part of the King County Coalition of Unions, negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the County securing additional leave protections for union members, including emergency paid leave and paid administrative leave. The MOA also emphasizes increased access to telecommuting and PPE for those who are required to work on-site.

These protections were achieved outside of the framework of this year's contract negotiations, which were originally scheduled to begin in March but have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

To plan for what negotiations might look like this year, a group of Teamsters 117 Shop Stewards at King County, together with Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and Union Representatives Maria Williams and Cara Mattson, met via Zoom last week.

In that meeting, we had an excellent presentation from our International Teamsters Union on the financial state of King County. We also reviewed member contract surveys and established our priorities for negotiations. Our Shop Stewards are united around job preservation for Teamsters 117 members as the Union's number one priority. 

Shop Stewards have identified job preservation as the Union's number one priority.

In the coming weeks, the County will provide us with its own analysis of how the crisis has impacted its financial condition. At that point, we will work within the Union Coalition to decide the best path forward for negotiations. Given that so much has changed over the last few months, we are also working on a way to solicit additional member feedback to ensure that your voice is heard.

There are still many unanswered questions about what bargaining will look like this year. To prepare for all possible outcomes, we plan to continue meeting regularly with Shop Stewards. As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.

Finally, we want to pass along some good news about your union health care. The joint labor-management group (JLMIC) that oversees your benefits has continued to meet on a monthly basis. Maria Williams, our Teamsters 117 representative on the JLMIC, reports that all COVID-19 related expenses will be covered at 100% for Union members at King County, and there will continue to be no out-of-pocket expenses on your health care. 

Just a reminder that the pandemic does not impact previously negotiated agreements, so you will still be receiving your negotiated 1.5% general wage increase this July.

Thank you for your service during these unprecedented times. Your work is essential to the fabric of our community as we all struggle and strive to build a more healthy and just society that respects all people.


ST Message: Seeking justice in the wake of tragedy

John-Scearcy.jpgSisters and Brothers -

The murder of our brother George Floyd saddens us deeply as it marks yet another case of an unjust killing of an unarmed black man. Police are charged with the duty to protect and serve us all, and the police officer who murdered George Floyd together with the officers who stood idly by and allowed his murder to occur must be brought to justice.

Teamsters Local 117 is a large and diverse Union with members working and living in nearly every occupation and community across the state of Washington. The members we represent in Law Enforcement and Corrections have overwhelmingly expressed empathy for the family of George Floyd and disapproval of the actions and inactions of the officers involved.

As a union, we stand with our black and brown Sisters and Brothers and condemn these heinous acts. We need top to bottom reform in police departments across the country, but we cannot stop there. To work toward real and sustainable social justice, we must also reform our political structure, housing, transportation, health care, education, the criminal justice system, the workplace, unions, and all other corners of society that encourage, promote and foster race and income inequality.

Black and brown communities are tired, outraged, and taking to the streets in protest along with allies of every color. The anger and pain are real and the message for change cannot be diluted by the unfortunate acts of destruction of property that are taking place. I join with the family of George Floyd in calling for those committing these acts to stop. Together, we can acknowledge this pain and anger, peacefully protest, and organize around the common goal of eliminating the shroud of racism that still envelops our country and build a society that no longer restricts and endangers black and brown people.

This is a time of reckoning in America. I call on all of us at Teamsters 117 to ask what we can do to stop racism and treat all people regardless of race, color, gender, or sexual orientation with compassion and respect.

We are no stranger to fighting injustice - the power of our Union is not limited to our labor agreements. Now is the time for systemic change and to build a more just society for all.

In unity,

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John Scearcy
Secretary-Treasurer


Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship winners announced

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With so much turmoil facing our communities, we wanted to highlight inspirational stories of members and their families within our Union. 

Recently, we had the honor of recognizing two members of Teamsters 117, along with the daughter of one of our members, as the first-ever recipients of the Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship.

This scholarship was established by our Union's Womxn's Committee in the lead up to our inaugural Teamsters 117 Womxn's Conference held in Tukwila in 2019. The scholarship is named in honor of our Teamster Sister, Officer Jayme Biendl, a Local 117 member who was murdered in the line of duty in the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2011. 

Through this scholarship, we honor Officer Biendl's sacrifice by supporting the education of Teamster women who are dedicated to serving their communities. 

The recipients of the Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship for 2020 are: 

  • Julia Bonsell, member at the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society
  • Candace Kludt, member at South Sound 911
  • Jade Leota, dependent of member Christine O'Brien at the Port of Seattle

We congratulate these inspiring women who embody the indomitable spirit of Officer Biendl through their service and sacrifice. 

You can learn more about the Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship and our Union's other scholarship opportunities on our website here. To join in the exciting work of our Union's Womxn's Committee, please reach out to Jill Reese at jill.reese@teamsters117.org.


Strong union team readies for DOC contract negotiations

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Our Union Bargaining Committee headed into contract negotiations with the State this week over our 2021-2023 DOC collective bargaining agreement for Teamsters at the DOC.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, negotiations are being held using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform. 

On Wednesday, May 27, our Union Team met with the State for a training on the new technology and to establish ground rules for negotiations.

On May 28, our Union Committee met independently to review the results from the member survey we conducted and to begin to establish our initial proposals based on your input. Please view the entire schedule for negotiations below.

DOC contract negotiations dates

  • May 27, 2020  (Zoom training day)
  • May 28, 2020 (Union committee prep day)
  • June 17-18, 2020
  • July 1-2, 2020
  • July 15-16, 2020
  • July 22-23, 2020
  • July 27-31, 2020

Joining us on our Union Negotiations Committee are all Teamsters 117 Union Representatives along with rank-and-file Shop Stewards from facilities across the State. I will be leading negotiations for the Union together with Eamon McCleery, our Union's staff attorney, and DOC Coordinator Sarena Davis. 

Our 2020 DOC Union Negotiations Committee

  • Michelle Woodrow, Teamsters 117 - President
  • Eamon McCleery, Teamsters 117 - Staff Attorney
  • Sarena Davis, DOC Coordinator
  • Talisa Boad, Union Representative
  • Cheryl Miller, Union Representative
  • Fred Rodgers, Union Representative
  • Wesley Wilson, Union Representative
  • Corey Doty, AHCC – CS3
  • Edward Smith, AHCC – CO2
  • Sheryl Green, AHCC – RN2
  • Christopher Lukens, CBCC – MM4
  • Daniel Abercrombie, CRCC – CO2
  • Brooke Hays, CRCC – CC2
  • Shawn Piliponis, LCC – CC2
  • Paul Moore, MCC – RN3
  • Jason Heuer, MCC – CO3
  • James Yadon, MCC – CO2
  • Alena McGowan-Folsom, MCCCW – AC Cook
  • Jesse Reese, SCCC – CO2
  • Gregg Peterson, SCCC – CO2
  • Tony Tellez, WCC – CISA
  • James Deuel, WCC – CO2
  • Kimberly Cook, WCCW – CO2
  • Christopher Malone, WSP – CO2
  • William Teepe, WSP – CO2
  • Becky HaneyNixon, WSP – CC3

Given the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the State budget, we anticipate that these will be challenging negotiations and may raise issues that we have not dealt with in the past. We will provide regular updates for you as negotiations progress.

If you have questions, please reach out to members on the Bargaining Committee or your Union Representative

Thank you for the invaluable service you are providing our communities. Please take care of yourself and your loved ones and remember to stay healthy and safe during this crisis and beyond.


Facing possible unemployment fraud? Here's what you can do

Be on the lookout! We've heard from lots of members that they've fallen victim to unemployment fraud.

If you suspect that someone has used your information to apply with the state's Employment Securities Department for benefits, be sure to visit the ESD website and report it immediately. 

Here's the link to the info:

If you have questions, reach out to your Union Rep. 


Line of Duty Death: We mourn the COVID-19 related passing of Teamster Officer at MCC

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Michelle Woodrow, President and Executive Director of Teamsters 117, issued the following statement regarding the COVID-19 related death of Officer Berisford Morse of the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC):

“We are extremely saddened to hear the news of the passing of Berisford Morse, a Teamster Correctional Officer with over 17 years of service at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Officer Morse died May 17, 2020 due to complications from COVID-19.

On behalf of the Teamsters Local 117 Executive Board and the 17,000 members of our Local Union, we would like to express our heartfelt sympathy and deep condolences to Officer Morse’s family, friends, and co-workers during this difficult time.

Officer Morse contracted COVID-19 through exposure to the coronavirus in the line of duty. Through his work in corrections, he put his life on the line to protect the public and keep our communities safe. No one deserves to die on the job, but when a workplace death is tied to public service it is especially painful and worthy of recognition. Officer Morse was a hero and we will never forget his service and sacrifice. We mourn his untimely loss and honor our fallen Brother.”


Drivers: Fix Your Unemployment Claim


Take our COVID-19 worker power survey

As COVID-19 is changing the way we lead our lives, we need more than ever to stand together for safety at work and fair pay.

Teamsters are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and the priorities for our Union have been protecting worker rights, securing appreciation pay, and raising standards across industries.

One way to achieve that for Local 117 members is to expand our ranks and organize more workers to become Teamsters.

Take our organizing survey to share your thoughts on the necessity of building worker power.

Organizing Survey


Important win in our Union's case to protect the privacy of public employees

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Teamsters 117, working in concert with other public employee Unions, has scored an important victory in our effort to protect your privacy.

In a case brought by a coalition of Unions, Thurston County Superior Court has ruled to enjoin state agencies from releasing public employees' birthdates that were sought as part of a public disclosure request by the anti-union "Freedom" Foundation

The court ruled that the release of the information "is not in the public interest and would cause irreparable harm" to Union members.

For now, this is a temporary injunction, but our Union's legal counsel will be asking the court to make the order permanent this month. 

In the 2020 legislative session, our Union achieved an important legislative win with the passage of HB 1888. The new law, scheduled to be implemented on July 1, amends the state Public Records Act to protect public employees' privacy by safeguarding birthdates.

While the "Freedom" Foundation could try to appeal the court's injunction, there isn’t sufficient time for that appeal to be concluded before the new law takes effect.

"Our members have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting the public," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "They keep our streets safe, clean up our parks, repair our roads, and care for and rehabilitate incarcerated individuals in our state's prisons. It's absolutely essential that we safeguard their personal information to protect them against identity theft, fraud, and other kinds of abuse." 


Teamsters honor nurses, saying their contributions can't be overstated

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Thank you, nurses! Your heroism is an inspiration during these challenging times. Here is a statement from our International Union to commemorate National Nurses Week:

The Teamsters are lauding hardworking nurses nationwide, saying that as the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear how important nurses are to the country’s health care system.

“Now more than ever, every American sees the contributions that these frontline workers make, whether there is a pandemic or not,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

“On this National Nurses Week, this union wants to send out its heartfelt thanks not only to our nursing members, but all of those nurses who are caring for the ill among us.” During the past two months, the public has seen how nurses have put their lives and those of their families at risk to care for and comfort tens of thousands of Americans who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. In many cases, nurses have been the only ones there to hold the hands of some of the nearly 75,000 whom have died in the U.S. of this virus.

“Words fail to express how grateful the Teamsters and indeed the entire nation are to these brave heroes who have put their life’s calling above even themselves during these trying times,” said Nina Bugbee, Director of the Teamsters’ Health Care Division. “We all must remember the sacrifices that they make, today and always.”


Sea-Tac Airport Forces Taxi Drivers into Debt for Trip Fees

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Officials at the Port of Seattle have notified airport taxi drivers of a plan to force drivers into debt for unpaid per-trip fees, the collection of which had been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s unconscionable that, after receiving a $192.1 million taxpayer-funded bailout, the Port of Seattle can’t find a way to help low-wage immigrant workers who are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads during this crisis,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “The fact that they announced their debt pay-back plan as a Friday afternoon news dump on International Workers Day just adds insult to injury.”

"It’s unconscionable that... the Port of Seattle can’t find a way to help low-wage immigrant workers."

Port Executive Director Stephen Metruck had previously announced at a March 24 Port Commission meeting that the Port would "grant a 3 month waiver of fees charged for each trip from the Airport" (see video minute 8:13), to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on a low-wage, immigrant workforce that lacks any safety net.

The Port later reversed course and said the fee waiver would only be a deferral, despite the Port being awarded a $192.1 million COVID bailout from the federal government in mid-April.

“After working seven hours yesterday, I came home with only $7 – and now the Port wants me to repay $6 of that back in fees,” said Sasha Nazari who supports his wife and son working as an Airport taxi driver. “I don’t have money to pay the mortgage. I received a shut-off notice on my electricity. Where am I going to get the money?”

Under the new taxi debt plan announced on May 1, if drivers are unable to repay trip fees by January 31, they would accrue interest and risk losing their job at the Airport.