Governor Inslee signs a bill granting interest arbitration rights to Teamsters who work at the WA State Department of Corrections.
It’s a victory a decade in the making.
For ten years, Teamsters across Washington State made phone calls, wrote emails, and met face-to-face with legislators. We rallied on the steps of the state house, spoke out in the press, and marched around the Capitol grounds in Olympia.
Now, after years of perseverance, we have achieved an historic win.
On April 30, Governor Inslee signed a bill that immeasurably expands the rights of 6,000 Teamsters at the Department of Corrections (DOC).
The new law grants our union access to interest arbitration, a right essential to public safety professionals and one that has been denied our members for decades. Making the victory even sweeter, Inslee signed a similar bill on the same day that benefits Teamster officers at the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD).
“Our corrections and law enforcement members put their lives on the line to protect the public,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117, who made passage of the bills a top priority. “Interest arbitration ensures our members are treated with respect.”
"Interest arbitration ensures our members are treated with respect."
Interest arbitration is a complete game-changer when it comes to the power our union can leverage at the bargaining table. Without interest arbitration, we had little recourse when negotiating over issues like wages and working conditions. Not surprisingly, the State exploited its advantage by engaging in frustrating cycles of take-it-or-leave-it bargaining.
These new laws allow our union to push mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral arbitrator if we reach impasse in negotiations.
The ramifications are huge. Over the last three contract cycles, our DOC members have been able to access interest arbitration, first through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Governor, then through a negotiated provision in our contract. With interest arbitration, we have prevented concessions, strengthened language and increased wages for DOC Teamsters by a minimum of 28.3% over six years.
But from the start our goal has always been to codify interest arbitration into State law. “We wanted to ensure these rights could not be stripped away during negotiations, so we made statutory interest arbitration a long-term priority,” Scearcy said.
Getting to the goal wasn’t easy. Ross Hunter, the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee blocked early drafts of the bill. Later, the State Senate lacked the votes to pass the legislation. But thanks in part to our union’s powerhouse political program, the legislative landscape in Washington State shifted in 2018, creating an environment for change.
“We worked hard to elect legislators who were supportive and that approach paid off,” Scearcy said.
Under Scearcy’s leadership, our union made another major push during this year’s legislative session. In 2019, we had our largest, most successful lobby day ever. Over 200 Teamsters and their families converged on the State Capitol to talk with legislators about the need to get the law passed.
Now, after years of determination and hard work, a goal once thought unattainable has become a reality.
“I’m proud to be a Teamster,” said James Deuel, a corrections officer at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. “Interest arbitration levels the playing field with management. It gives us the opportunity to fight for what we want and what we need.”
This Tuesday is truly a momentous day for our corrections and law enforcement members.
At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, Governor Inslee will sign into law bills granting statutory interest arbitration rights for our members at the Department of Corrections and University of Washington Police Department (SB 5021/SB 5022). At the same ceremony, the Governor will also sign a bill that restores the right for trained DOC personnel to carry a concealed weapon (HB 1589).
We will be gathering outside of the Governor's office on Tuesday starting at 1:30 p.m. All members are encouraged to attend this event and join in celebrating this extraordinary accomplishment.
Interest arbitration increases our power and leverage in contract negotiations. Without interest arbitration, we had little recourse when bargaining with the State over issues like wages and working conditions.
With this new law, we will be able to take mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral third-party arbitrator if we reach impasse in negotiations.
Over the next several weeks, we have a number of activities planned to celebrate this win. We will be sending thank you cards to the legislators who supported our bills and recognizing the bill sponsors and other key legislators at our June membership meeting and our summer DOC barbecues.
We are also creating a commemorative pin to recognize the hard work so many of you put in to pass this legislation.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone on this historic achievement. After a decade-long effort in the Washington State Legislature to expand the rights of Local 117 members, our moment of victory is close at hand.
Brothers and Sisters -
When members come together and get involved in their union, we can accomplish great things.
We’ve seen that recently at Teamsters 117 with a string of victories and inspiring examples of union solidarity.
For our members at the Department of Corrections and UW campus police, interest arbitration bills on their way to the Governor’s desk for his signature will immeasurably expand their rights in the workplace.
It’s a goal we’ve fought for nearly a decade poised to become a reality.
"When members come together and get involved in their union, we can accomplish great things."
At King County, we’ve also achieved a signature win. With historically high turnout, members at the County voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new Total Comp Agreement negotiated by a coalition of unions that will raise wages by a minimum of 7% over two years. The first wage increases will take effect this May with members receiving a retro check in June dating back to the beginning of the year.
This kind of union power is also fiercely present in our private sector shops.
Over the last few months, a group of mostly immigrant workers at Industrial Container Services has worn solidarity stickers, raised just practicing pickets outside of their workplace, and marched on the boss to deliver letters of community support.
Their goal? To end their employer’s bullying and win an equitable contract for themselves and their families. Their courageous actions should be an inspiration to us all.
All of this comes as our union prepares for an exciting event. On May 18, we will be holding our first-ever Womxn’s Conference for members of Teamsters 117 and their families. The conference will feature guest speakers, workshops, presentations, a fundraiser art-show, kid’s activities, and a delicious lunch.
This massive undertaking has been organized by a committee of member leaders. They’ve done the hard work of planning the agenda, inviting speakers, and recruiting attendees. The conference is open to all, and I strongly encourage you to attend. At this event we will unveil our newly-created scholarship - the Teamsters 117 Jayme Biendl Working Women’s Scholarship!
Members getting involved in our union can achieve amazing results. I encourage you to find ways to build unity and power in the workplace. All of us are stronger through your bold, creative actions.
Teamsters Rod Boettger (r) and Todd Reis (l) meet with Union Representative Cara Mattson to discuss a looming labor dispute at Veritiv.
With a labor dispute looming at Veritiv, 38-year Teamster Roderick Boettger recalls a two-day strike at the company decades ago.
It was a debacle not unlike the current one, with the company dragging its feet in negotiations and clinging to substandard proposals. “They weren’t giving us what we wanted, so we went on strike,” Boettger said.
The strike was short-lived, but the impact on the company was profound. Boetteger remembers the chaos in the shop when his crew returned to work.
“The warehouse was really messed up,” he said. “Forklifts were stuck in the air and stuff was scattered all over the place. It was complete disorder.”
Evidently, the company has not learned its lesson. This time around, they've slow-walked negotiations for eight months and appear to be trying to provoke a strike yet again.
Todd Reis, a Shop Steward on our union’s negotiations committee, called out Veritiv for its hypocrisy. “They tell us how much they care, but then turn around and try to take everything away that we’ve worked hard to keep,” he said.
Reis, Boettger and their co-workers are fed up. The group of warehouse workers and drivers represented by Teamsters 117 and 174 respectively voted unanimously to authorize a strike back in December.
Earlier this month, our two Locals issued a 10-day notice that we would be terminating our contracts with the company.
"We’ll get an idea of how seriously they’re going to take us soon."
Shop Steward Robert Morrison, also on our union’s negotiations team, says the group is disgusted. “We’re ready to go right now. We’ll get an idea of how seriously they’re going to take us soon.”
John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, reiterated this point. “Our members are amped up and ready to strike,” he said. “Veritiv needs to return to negotiations and bargain a fair contract in good faith that respects our members and their families.”
The next negotiations session on April 30 will be telling: Will Veritiv come with reasonable proposals or will they continue to balk at decent treatment of their employees? If it's the latter, they'd better be ready for a fight.
Teamster Gerald Maines sits down with Jesse Jones of KIRO 7 to discuss the plant closure at Shasta.
Thanks to some shrewd investigatory reporting by KIRO 7's Jesse Jones, Shasta's dirty tricks are finally being exposed.
Shasta's Tukwila plant was shut down by the City's fire marshal nine weeks ago after the company failed to obtain permits for a major construction project at the facility.
Shasta has refused to provide any compensation for its Teamster employees during the shutdown, and many have lost their health and welfare benefits. This includes a member with a new-born baby and one battling stage 4 cancer.
After getting stonewalled by Shasta, Shop Steward Gerald Maines along with Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy reached out to Jones to talk about our contractual rights and how the company's negligence has affected workers.
"We have a labor agreement, we have rights in that labor agreement that guarantee pay. And unless it's outside the company's control, they are expected and contractually obligated to provide wages and benefits," Scearcy told Jones in the interview.
See the full story below:
On Friday, the State House and Senate finalized the legislation for our Department of Corrections (DOC) and University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) interest arbitration bills (SB 5021/SB 5022). This clears the way for both bills to be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
The Governor has indicated that he is supportive of the bills, and we expect he will sign them into law in the coming weeks. As soon as we have a date for the bill signing ceremony, we will let you know and encourage you to attend this historic event.
It’s hard to express the magnitude of this victory. We’ve been working as a union for nearly a decade to achieve statutory interest arbitration rights. Now the finish line is close at hand.
Interest arbitration is a complete game-changer when it comes to the power we leverage in contract negotiations. Without interest arbitration, we had little recourse when bargaining with the State over issues like wages and working conditions.
It’s hard to express the magnitude of this victory.
With this new law, we will be able to push mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral third-party arbitrator if we reach impasse in negotiations.
The ramifications are huge. Over the last three contract cycles we’ve been able to access interest arbitration rights at the DOC, first through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Governor, then through a negotiated provision in our contract. Because of interest arbitration, we’ve succeeded in increasing wages for DOC Teamsters by 28.3% over six years.
But from the start our goal has always been to codify these rights into State law, which is exactly what these bills will do. Once they become law, we will have increased our strength to negotiate higher wages and better working conditions for all of you who risk your lives to serve and protect our communities.
Thanks again for your tremendous work toward this victory. By standing together and committing to each other, we’ve succeeded in achieving critical rights that will improve the lives of 6,000 members and their families.
We have lots of great news to share from Olympia!
On Saturday, our interest arbitration bill (SB 5021) for Teamsters at the DOC cleared yet another critical hurdle when it passed out of the House Appropriations committee on a vote of 26-6.
The bill has now successfully passed out of all of its fiscal and policy committees in the House of Representatives and is in the House Rules Committee awaiting a vote on the House floor. Passage in the House is the final step before the bill gets sent to the Governor for his signature.
Interest arbitration is important because it levels the playing field when we are in negotiations with the State. With interest arbitration, we can take mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral third-party arbitrator if we reach impasse in negotiations.
In more good news from Olympia, our bill (HB 1589) that restores the right for trained DOC personnel to carry a concealed weapon is in the Senate Rules Committee and requires only a Senate floor vote and the Governor’s signature to secure passage.
Our other top priority is to ensure that our DOC contract gets funded. On that front, things are looking promising as well. While budget negotiations are ongoing, both the House and the Senate have included funding for our collective bargaining agreement in their budgets.
This is all fantastic news. Our collective voice as Teamsters this legislative session has been incredibly strong and made a tremendous impact. Thank you for working so hard to make sure legislators hear our voice and to build a strong political program that makes these kinds of victories possible.
Have a kid who needs cash for class? Teamsters 117 is now accepting applications for the 2019 Jeff Alfieri Scholarship.
The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, May 31, 2019.
- View scholarship application and instructions
- View eligibility requirements
- View a flyer for the program
The Local 117 Jeff Alfieri Scholarship of up to $2000 is awarded to outstanding students whose parents are members of Teamsters Local 117. If you have questions about the scholarship, talk to your Business Representative, or call 206-441-4860 or 1-888-872-3489.
The founders of the scholarship fund, Ralph and Sue Alfieri, established the scholarship in memory of their son Jeff Alfieri, a former Business Representative with Teamsters Local 117.
Teamsters at UNFI/Supervalu are united and won't be pushed around by an employer who is intent on maximizing profits at their expense.
Imagine coming home from work, you sit your family down, and have tell them your job is being relocated hundreds of miles away. Your employer is offering no security with regard to your union contract, your wages, seniority, and benefits.
This is the reality for our members employed at the UNFI/Supervalu grocery distribution centers in Auburn and Tacoma.
After acquiring Supervalu last year, UNFI abruptly announced that they would be moving the work from both facilities to Chehalis and Ridgefield.
The proposed move raises critical questions for our members and their families. Will they remain Teamsters? Will the terms and conditions of their current contract apply at the new locations? Will they retain their seniority rights? What will their severance package look like if they are unable to make the move?
"Teamsters at UNFI/Supervalu won't be bullied into forfeiting their rights."
Hundreds of members from the group and their families met at our Union Hall in Tukwila on March 16 to discuss these questions and set priorities. The group met again for another update on Saturday, March 30.
"This is everyone's future," said Annette Pitchford, a 33-year Teamster Shop Steward who works inventory control at the UNFI/Supervalu facility in Tacoma. "It is essential that we stay together and you can really feel that in the warehouse right now."
Our union's principal officer John Scearcy was joined by previous Local 117 Secretary-Treasurers Tracey Thompson and John Williams to address the group.
"We are working to ensure that our members' rights are protected under their contract and under the law," Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy said. "Teamsters at UNFI/Supervalu won't be bullied into forfeiting their rights. They are united and prepared to fight to protect their livelihoods."
Faith-based and community leaders join with workers at ICS who are struggling for justice and respect.
Community pressure on Industrial Container Services (ICS) continues to intensify.
An interfaith delegation of religious leaders and representatives from community groups joined with workers to deliver a letter yesterday calling on the company to respect the rights of ICS employees and bargain a contract in good faith.
Members of the delegation took turns offering prayer and a message of solidarity with the workers as the group waited in the ICS lobby for management to receive the delegation and "open the doors of justice."
"I wanted to be here with my voice and my presence today to stand behind these workers and their courage because what they need and what they want for their families is important," said Tana Powell of the Valley and Mountain United Methodist Church.
"Our community is standing in unity with Teamsters at ICS."
Workers at ICS have been struggling over the last several months for a contract that honors their work and respects their right to a clean, healthy working environment.
During negotiations, ICS unilaterally changed its employees' health care plan and allegedly engaged in unlawful surveillance of workers during a peaceful protest on February 22.
On March 7, Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez met with workers and delivered a letter to ICS management urging the company to negotiate a living wage, affordable health care, and retirement security for members of Teamsters 117.
"Our community is standing in unity with Teamsters at ICS," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "This company needs to understand that we are stronger when all workers can afford to put food on the table for their families, take their kids to the doctor, and not have to worry about exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace."
Starting at the end of March, we will be holding spring Membership Meetings for all DOC Teamsters at facilities across the State.
At the meetings, we will be talking about the status of our legislative priorities in Olympia and ways to get involved to ensure that we can be successful.
You can view days, times, and facilities below. Click on the link to your facility to RSVP.
|AHCC||Tuesday||April 9||New Initiates: 1015, Membership: 1100|
|CBCC||Tuesday||March 26||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1115|
|CCCC||Wednesday||April 10||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|CI HQ||Monday||April 22||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|CRCC||Tuesday||April 16||New Initiates: 1015, Membership: 1100|
|DOC HQ||Monday||April 29||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|LCC||Monday||April 8||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|Maple Lane Pharmacy||Tuesday||April 30||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|MCC||Tuesday||April 23||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1130|
|MCCCW||Monday||April 1||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1115|
|MICC||Thursday||April 11||New Initiates: 1045, Membership 1200|
|OCC||Wednesday||March 27||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1115|
|SCCC||Thursday||May 2||New Initiates: 1030, Membership: 1130|
|SWRBO||Tuesday||April 9||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|WCC||Friday||April 12||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1200|
|WCCW||Monday||April 15||New Initiates: 1045, Membership: 1115|
|WSP||Thursday||April 18||New Initiates: 1030, Membershio: 1130|
You are invited a very special event. Teamsters 117 will be holding its first-ever Womxn's Conference She/Us/We Rising Together! on Saturday, May 18 from 8 AM to 1 PM at our Union Hall in Tukwila.
This short, energetic conference will feature presentations, open discussion, and group participatory workshops for members of Teamsters 117 and their friends and family. Lunch will be provided, a fundraiser art-show, kid’s activities, and much more!
We've already confirmed a lineup of distinguished guests. Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal (District 07) will address the conference participants as well as Elise Bryant, the National President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, among others.
Workshops are planned on the following topics:
- Effective Leadership
- Shutting Down Sexual Harassment On The Job
- Financial Management and Independence
- Climate Justice
- Running for Office: What You Need to Know
We are accepting artwork donations for an art raffle which will directly benefit a newly-created Teamsters 117 Jayme Biendl Working Women’s Scholarship.
This is sure to be an exciting and memorable event. Register now for She/Us/We – Rising Together! and encourage your co-workers to do the same. If you have questions or would like to donate artwork for the conference, please contact Karen Estevenin at 206-794-8471.
This month, we celebrate Women's History Month. Check out this message from our International Union and be sure to register for our upcoming Teamsters 117 Womxn's Conference on May 18.
We have received notification from the County that our Union's Total Compensation ("Total Comp") agreement negotiated by the King County Coalition of Unions and overwhelmingly ratified by all Local 117 bargaining units is on its way to Council.
The County informed our Coalition that the Council's Budget and Fiscal Management Committee would consider the agreement at the end of the month. After it passes out of committee, it will be referred to the full Council.
Assuming the Council enacts our contract, it would then go to the County Executive for final approval before any retro pay could be implemented by the County.
The contract covers your wages, benefits, and other compensable elements for 2019-2020. Once the agreement is signed by the Executive, all Teamsters 117 members at the County will receive a 4% wage increase retroactive to January 1, 2019 and 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. Some groups may receive other retroactive increases depending on their individual appendix agreements.
You can view the complete total comp agreement here.
We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information. If you have questions, please contact your Shop Steward or Union Representative.
Local 117 Shop Stewards showing unity, strength, and purpose - Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day 2019.
The collective strength of our union was on full display on Saturday as hundreds of rank-and-file leaders from across the state gathered together at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle for our annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day.
The theme for this year's event was Power, Unity, and Progress - elements that have shaped our union as we've built it into a transformational force to lift up working families.
The event kicked off with a short video that captures who we are as Teamsters and our goals for a better future. Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy followed with his State of the Union address.
"As Shop Stewards, you are the backbone of this union," he said. "You strive every day on the shop floor to organize your co-workers and to build power. Your work is indispensable to making Teamsters 117 one of the strongest, most dynamic unions in the Pacific Northwest."
"Your work is indispensable to making Teamsters 117 one of the strongest, most dynamic unions in the Pacific Northwest."
Highlights of the day included the attendance and remarks of three special guests: Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa, IBT Vice President At Large Steve Vairma, and newly-elected Washington State Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer April Sims.
General President Hoffa, who also met with DOC Stewards the day before, praised the work of our Local Union.
"What you're doing here at Local 117 is what we've got to do all over the country," he said. "We've got to have powerful unions and we've got to have people who are forward looking. We've got to build what we're talking about - Power, Unity, Progress. And you're doing it here."
After Hoffa's remarks, members gathered for a group photo before heading off to two 50-minute training sessions. The breakouts focused on the work of Stewards beyond grievances to organize and mobilize members to take action and to reflect on lessons learned in a post-Janus environment.
The group reassembled for lunch, where Steve Vairma spoke about how our International Union has achieved a string of victories in the IBT's Warehouse Division by harnessing the unity of multiple Teamster Locals and by showing adversarial employers a united front.
April Sims of the WSLC ended the day with a story about how her mother's union job lifted her family out of poverty. Her inspirational words moved the group to a rousing ovation.
Thank you to all Shop Stewards across Teamsters 117. Your tireless work on the shop floor, at the negotiations table, and in our communities makes our union resilient and strong.