We're pleased to announce the hiring of Eamon McCleery, an experienced labor attorney who joined our union staff effective July 1.
Eamon will be our Teamsters 117 staff attorney dedicated to handling negotiations, arbitrations, and unfair labor practice litigation on behalf of members working in corrections and law enforcement.
A native of the Pacific Northwest and a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, Eamon previously worked as an attorney at a labor law firm specializing in representing law enforcement and corrections employees in the State of Washington.
It's important to understand that the outstanding unity and low opt-out rate among law enforcement and corrections members have allowed us to secure Eamon as an additional resource.
When members stand together and commit to each other like we have seen at Teamsters 117, we can improve wages, safety, and benefits and protect our workplace rights through professional, quality representation.
If you are in need of legal support due to an issue in the workplace, please contact your union representative who will initiate a legal review process with Eamon.
Good news came in yesterday from our International Union on the issue of pension reform:
Yesterday we received the finalized version of our 2019-2021 DOC collective bargaining agreement from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM), and the document is now available for you online. Our union's Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and the Governor signed our contract in a ceremony in Olympia on June 17.
You can view a link to the complete contract with all of the negotiated changes below:
Your union contract contains a number of language improvements and a minimum of an 8% general wage increase for all Teamsters at the DOC over the next two years.
Members received a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and will receive another 4% increase effective July 1, 2020. In addition, a number of classifications will receive targeted range increases.
Please take some time to familiarize yourself with your union contract. It contains essential seniority rights, bidding rights, safety provisions, vacation and holiday pay, the right to just cause in a disciplinary investigation, and many other workplace protections that are unavailable to non-union employees.
Thank you to our outstanding union negotiations team for their work on our contract and for speaking out for fair wages, safety, and respect for all DOC corrections employees.
Teamsters at King County will see an extra chunk of money in their paychecks this month. The money comes as a result of months of hard work by members and staff who have been part of our King County Coalition of Unions.
The Coalition spent much of last year negotiating a Total Compensation Agreement, which all Teamster bargaining units overwhelmingly ratified last December. The Agreement covers your wages, benefits, and other compensable elements for 2019-2020.
With the contract approved, all Teamsters 117 members at the County received a 4% wage increase effective January 1, 2019. Before you could see the money reflected in your paycheck, the contract needed to be approved by the Council and the County Executive.
That process is now complete and your wage increase retroactive to January 1 has arrived.
Your contract also provides for a total of a 3% wage increase in 2020, divided into two parts: a 1.5% increase effective January 1, 2020 and a 1.5% increase effective July 1, 2020. You will also receive a $500 bonus on January 1, 2020 that applies to members of the King County Coalition of Unions only.
Brothers and Sisters -
A year ago backers of the Janus court case were forecasting the end of unions. They tried to use the courts to take away our freedom to stand together for fair wages, affordable health care, and a secure retirement for ourselves and our families.
One year later, unions have emerged stronger than ever. More people across the country understand the value of standing together with their co-workers to improve their quality of life and build strong, vibrant communities.
"...members are sticking with the union in overwhelming numbers."
At Teamsters 117, members are sticking with the union in overwhelming numbers. As a result, we’ve raised wages, improved benefits, and strengthened contracts for thousands of public service workers over the last year. We’ve helped passed laws in Olympia that will enhance the rights of all members of Teamsters 117. This year we also hosted our first-ever Teamsters Womxn’s Conference that brought a powerful spirit of sisterhood to our union.
Our Teamsters DOC retirement committee met last week in Olympia to look at policy options.
A group of members who attended the DOC contract signing in Olympia last week spent a few minutes celebrating on the steps of the State Capitol then got straight to work.
Their goal? To evaluate retirement benefits and make policy recommendations for Teamsters at the Washington State Department of Corrections.
It's a challenging job given the convoluted nature of pension politics and the potential impact pension reform could have on the State budget, but all were in agreement: The work needs to get done.
"Retirement is something at DOC that needs to be looked at," said Jeannette Young, a classification counselor at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. "We work one-on-one with inmates and it's a highly stressful environment."
"We are committed to working to tackle this difficult issue."
The current DOC retirement system has many corrections staff working longer than they should, which can compromise staff safety inside the prisons.
"Many people are forced to stay on too long because they need to maintain their medical benefits," said Shawn Piliponis of the Larch Corrections Center. "This can affect response times and the ability to assist in disturbances."
After a round of introductions, the 21-member DOC Retirement Committee focused on brainstorming improvements they'd like to see. Ideas included improving post-retirement healthcare benefits, reducing the penalty for early retirement, and making PSERS available to everyone, among others.
Now the hard part begins. The next step requires researching what is fiscally and politically feasible and what would have the greatest impact on the membership as a whole. It also requires educating members and engaging them around the issue. Clearly, people are concerned about their retirement and would like to see improvements. The trick is getting folks involved.
The committee agreed to meet on an ongoing basis to develop short and long-term goals. Once viable options are on the table, the group also plans to survey the membership to see what ideas we can coalesce around.
"Corrections work is inherently stressful and dangerous," said Michelle Woodrow, our union's President and Executive Director, who is helping to lead the committee. "We are committed to working to tackle this difficult issue so that all of our members at the DOC can retire with dignity."
To learn more about your current retirement benefits, please visit the Department of Retirement Systems. You can learn about health care options in retirement here. If you are interested in participating on our Teamsters Retirement Committee, contact Political Director Dustin Lambro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teamsters Mari Jane Friel (l) and Anthony McKinney (r) take their talents out to the broader membership.
Mari Jane Friel and Anthony McKinney are a couple of stand-out union activists. Both have excelled at building a strong union in their respective workplaces.
Mari Jane is a roads utility worker at King County. She ramped up her union involvement when the Janus court case loomed with its threat of open shop. Anthony comes out of the grocery industry, where he and a fellow shop steward orchestrated a powerful workplace action to stop their employer from skimming their work.
Both Anthony and Mari Jane recently had a chance to come on board at Local 117 as lost-timers. Our union negotiated a leave of absence with their employers and picked up their wages and benefits while they were away from their jobs.
Governor Jay Inslee signs our DOC 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement.
Our 2019-2021 DOC collective bargaining agreement was signed on Monday by the Governor and our union's Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy in a short ceremony in Olympia.
This marks the end of many hours of hard work from our union negotiations committee followed by an interest arbitration hearing and an intense effort to persuade legislators to fund the contract.
The contract contains a number of language improvements and a minimum of an 8% general wage increase for all Teamsters at the DOC over the next two years.
Members will receive a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and a 4% increase effective July 1, 2020. In addition, a number of classifications will receive targeted range increases.
I encourage you to familiarize yourself with your union contract. It provides important information about your rights, protections, guaranteed wages, and working conditions.
Thank you again to the incredible work of our union negotiations team and to all of our members who spoke out for fair wages, safety, and respect. You made this victory possible.
Members celebrate contract victory after Governor signs the agreement.
Nurto Abdi directing traffic at the rental car parking building of Sea-Tac Airport.
At Sea-Tac Airport, Fleetlogix unjustly terminated Nurto Abdi, and it was subsequently overturned during the grievance process. The day the disputed incident took place, Abdi was driving the rental car a customer had just dropped off. She stopped at the gate and the light flashed green, swinging the gate arm open. Abdi drove forward but immediately felt a jolt. When she got out, she saw that the lower part of the gate had malfunctioned and hit the car.
Abdi’s employer, Fleetlogix, didn’t hear her out and quickly fired her. English not being her first language, she wrote a statement in her native language and with the help of her co-worker Burhan Farah, a union leader at her workplace and her union representative Takele Gobena filed a grievance. Soon after she had to leave the country responding to a family emergency.
Meanwhile, the company pushed to process the grievance in her absence without giving her the chance to be heard. Fleetlogix has already been sanctioned by the NLRB in the past for intimidating workers who were wearing buttons supporting their union. Working together, union leader Farah and union representative Gobena did not let the employer proceed without Abdi’s presence.
Abdi worked at Sea-Tac Airport for nearly 15 years.
When she was back in the United States, the Board of Adjustment meeting lasted four long hours. Abdi and Farah had to face Fleetlogix VP, CEO and CFO who specifically flew in to challenge Abdi’s rights. Still, this list of company executives did not help their case -- Abdi got her job back and her seniority was restored.
“I felt appreciated in so many ways,” reflected Farah. “As immigrants and women of color, we are vulnerable in this and most jobs we might take. It is being part of the union that protects us. It was empowering for our entire team to see someone like us standing up to men in power. The company needs us, and we need a union. It was a battle, but in the end the victory was sweet.”
“This is not just my victory, but also one for all the people who work at Fleetlogix,” Abdi concluded. “I am grateful for the energy and time my union representative and my coworker put in to work on my case.”
ICS Teamsters showed unwavering unity and resolve in their fight for a fair contract.
After months of struggle, Teamsters who work at Industrial Container Services (ICS) have achieved a monumental win. Yesterday the group voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract.
The contract contains a 5.2% wage increase in the first year for the majority of the group, paid union orientation for new hires, and healthcare protections for the workers' families, among other improvements.
"We're happy with our new contract," said Abel Garibay Flores. "All of us struggled together for better pay and benefits and it made a difference."
Getting to this point took tremendous courage. With ICS intent on exacting bitter takeaways in bargaining, the group of mostly immigrant workers voted unanimously to authorize a strike and engaged in multiple solidarity actions, including a “just practicing” picket in front of the facility on February 20.
The workers also benefited from an outpouring of community support. Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez marched with a member delegation to deliver a letter to company management demanding fair treatment.
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez standing together with Teamsters at ICS at a solidarity action on March 7.
Meghan Fewins (c), Brea Jermsted (r) together with Union Rep Taylor House (l) at National Police Week in Washington D.C.
Over the last several years, our Union's Executive Board has sent rank-and-file members to National Police Week in Washington D.C. For the event, thousands of law enforcement professionals gather to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
In previous years, members from the ranks at the Port of Seattle, the City of Pacific, and the University of Washington have attended.
This year, Police Dispatcher Meghan Fewins and Communications Officer Brea Jermsted, both of South Sound 911, made the trip. Fewins and Jermsted were involved in dispatching emergency calls when Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney was killed in the line of duty last year.
Fewins and Jermsted took some time after their trip to share their reflections, experience, and gratitude. In a text message sent to her Union Rep, Taylor House, Jermsted wrote:
Fewins chronicled her experiences via email:
Fewins: "We watched Dan’s wife and kids place a flower in the wreath."
Congress is considering new legislation that will give Public Safety Telecommunicators the recognition they deserve.
The 911 Saves Act (HB 1629) will reclassify workers in the profession from "Office and Administrative Support Occupations" to "Protective Service Occupations". This will ensure that these workers will receive the benefits, funding, and respect that a first-responder classification entitles.
Our Teamsters Union is working hard to give the bill the greatest chance of success.
Our Local 117 Political Department staff will be meeting with our state's congressional delegation in Washington D.C. in June to ask them to sign on as sponsors to the bill.
Our International Union's General President, James Hoffa, has sent a powerful letter to all members of the House of Representatives urging them to support the legislation.
When the time is right, we will be calling on you to reach out to members of Congress to ask them to support the 911 Saves Act.
Public Safety Telecommunicators play a vital role in coordinating life-saving emergency care. Without these highly-skilled workers, firefighters, law enforcement, and EMTs would not be able to do their jobs.
We thank our members working in this profession for the tremendous emergency services they provide our community. Please recognize their vital work by supporting the 911 Saves Act.
Uber and Lyft drivers speak out for fair pay and a voice before their caravan embarks for City Hall.
Ride hail drivers took their vehicles on a slow procession through Seattle neighborhoods today to call for better working conditions at Uber and Lyft. Drivers ended their caravan at Seattle City Hall where they delivered their demands to City officials for fair pay, a due process to appeal deactivations, and a voice.
“We are tired of seeing Uber and Lyft siphon off bigger and bigger percentages of what riders pay,” said Fasil Teka, an Uber driver of 7 years. “It’s time for the City to ensure that drivers have the same rights as all workers in Seattle.”
"It’s time for the City to ensure that drivers have the same rights as all workers in Seattle."
Embarking from the Masjid al-Taqwa mosque in Seattle’s Central District, drivers honked their horns and displayed signs on their vehicles that read, “Share the fare!” and “Uber and Lyft: Listen to your drivers!” The caravan wove through the heart of the city, from the Central District to Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle, neighborhoods with some of the greatest concentrations of ride hail customers.
“We are asking our customers to stand with us in our effort to win fair pay and a voice,” said Lyft driver, Mohamed Sharif. “When drivers are paid a living wage and can stand together to improve driver and passenger safety, our local economy and the entire community benefits.”
Uber and Lyft drivers will caravan together through Seattle neighborhoods to City Hall on Thursday to demand fair pay, a due process to appeal deactivations, and a voice. The Driver Caravan will embark from the Masjid al-Taqwa mosque in Seattle’s Central District on Thursday, May 30 at 11:15 a.m. and weave through Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle.
The summer issue of our DOC Guardian newsletter is hot off the press!
In this issue, you'll find a recap of the 2019 legislative session in Olympia, which featured a number of critical wins for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.
The highlights include passage of a DOC interest arbitration bill, the full funding of our DOC contract, and the restoration of our right to carry a concealed weapon off duty without having to purchase a permit.
You can access a PDF of the newsletter here; print copies will be distributed by member leaders at your facilities in the coming weeks.