Teamster taxi and flat-rate drivers gather on the roof of the Sea-Tac Airport parking garage before Tuesday's protest.
More than 200 taxi and flat-rate drivers raised signs of protest at Sea-Tac Airport on Tuesday in a massive effort to stop airport taxi contractor Eastside for Hire from forcing drivers to pay to work. Drivers chanted “stop the pay-to-work scam” and “Eastside unfair” as they marched for nearly an hour at the taxi dispatch line on the third floor of the airport parking garage.
Last Thursday, Eastside sent drivers a notice informing them that they had until 5 P.M. on Tuesday to sign an intent to pay $9,000 or forfeit their right to access the airport. The drivers of 405 taxicabs and flat-rate vehicles in the airport fleet rely on fares from the airport as their primary source of income. Losing the right to access the airport would result in a devastating loss of business for drivers.
“Nobody has the money to pay that sum,” said taxi driver Saranjeet Shaglani. “It’s very expensive to work here. We can hardly pay the bills. So we all gathered together to get justice.”
"We all gathered together to get justice."
Drivers have already paid thousands of dollars for the right to service customers at the airport. When the Port of Seattle awarded Eastside the taxi contract in 2016, drivers paid Eastside a minimum of $4,600 per driver to join the fleet.
Drivers also paid to convert their vehicles with Eastside’s branding. In addition to the cost of entry, airport drivers are charged a $155 weekly dispatch fee and a $6 per trip fee. Drivers say the fees at the airport are so high that many earn less than minimum wage after expenses.
The original phone from which the very first 911 call was made in Haleyville, AL. The numbers 9-1-1 where selected back when rotary dial telephones were still the primary type of phone, so the shorter the number the better.
At 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16, 1968, the first 911 call was placed from the mayor's office in Haleyville (AL) and answered a short distance away at the police station. Up until then, there was no centralized number for people to call in case of an emergency, and it was a lucky plea for help uttered into the phone that was met with an appropriate response.
Today, 240 million calls are made to 911. The people who make an immediate response possible are the heroes operating behind the scenes. They ensure public safety and protect our police officers and firefighters by monitoring their activities by radio and providing them with vital information. Held every year during the second week of April, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is a time to recognize telecommunications personnel in the public safety community for their service and commitment to the profession. This week of April 8 – 14, we celebrate 50 years of their dedication and critical work.
So why "9-1-1"? At the time of its creation, the adopted emergency line in Britain was 999. In the US, however, there was a need for a number that was short, unique, and had never been used as an area code or service code before. This was also back when rotary dial telephones were still the primary type of phone, so the shorter the number – the better it was.
The emergency phone system has changed since it was first created, but our reliance on public servants listening on the other side of the line in critical moments hasn't. Thank you for the heroic work that you do!
Michael Berhea, shop steward at LAZ Parking, in front of the Pacific Place Mall garage after casting his vote.
If you have ever been to downtown Seattle, you would have seen the Pacific Place Mall. You would have gazed at elegant lines of its four floors, watched the expensive vitrines under the skylight and walked across its skybridge.
But you probably have never pushed one of its employee side doors. If you have, you would have left the glamour and natural lighting behind and plunged into the grey corridors of cracked concrete.
Teamsters in the Education Dept at the Woodland Park Zoo celebrate their new contract.
Congrats! to our new members, Teamsters in the Education Dept. at the Woodland Park Zoo. The group voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to ratify a first-ever union contract.
The group came together last year to win better wages, working conditions, and a voice on the job. They officially joined our union in August after an NLRB election vote.
"It took courage and determination for these workers to stand together in their union and win a voice," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "Let's congratulate them on their first Teamsters contract and welcome them into our union."
The Education Dept. group joins 60 Teamster zookeepers, who are also employed by Woodland Park Zoo.
Sgt Jason Heuer, a Shop Steward at MCC, is well versed in the rights and protections that our Dept. of Corrections contract provides.
The life of a steward at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) keeps you on your toes. Jason Heuer, a sergeant at the facility who joined the steward ranks in March 2017, spent the better part of his day last week defending the contractual rights of his fellow members.
He dealt with an investigation, handled a discipline case, and juggled a number of grievances. Heuer, who knows his CBA inside and out, preaches the power and value of our contract.
"There's a lot of information in there that protects our members," he said. "My job as a steward is to ensure that management is being straight and that our rights are not being violated."
Heuer showed up to a contract proposal meeting this week with a couple of suggestions for our union bargaining team as we head into negotiations with the State this spring.
Wage increases, a more solid retirement, and suggested changes to unscheduled leave reporting are all issues he brought to the fore.
"Come in and speak your voice. That's what being part of a union is all about."
Heuer was happy to hear that the leave issue in Article 23 of the DOC contract is already being addressed through a demand to bargain. He was also pleased that we achieved funding in the state budget for an audit of staffing levels at the DOC. "That's something I've been pushing for at least 10 years," he said.
On the retirement front, our union's Political Director, Dustin Lambro, is putting together a member Task Force to begin to tackle the issue. Better retirement security is a major concern for DOC Teamsters. No one in their 60s, after 35 years of service, should have to go toe-to-toe with a violent inmate.
Getting the system changed will be a heavy lift and will require member political engagement on a massive scale. If you'd like to participate on our Retirement Task Force, please contact Dustin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Union Reps are also asking for volunteers at the contract proposal meetings taking place around the state over the next two weeks.
"These meetings are absolutely critical," Heuer said. "Come in and speak your voice. That's what being part of a union is all about."
Rick Reinlasoder, a Teamster who works in the County's Water and Land Resources Division, asked tough questions in total comp negotiations on March 29.
“I was not satisfied with their response,” said Rick Reinlasoder. Reinlasoder, a Local 117 shop steward on our union bargaining team, had just finished grilling King County negotiators on why wage increases had been processed for non-represented employers but not for Coalition members.
“We’ve earned it, we deserve it, and we have a right to it, but we can’t do anything with that money for close to six months.”
"We can’t do anything with that money for close to six months."
Reinlasoder echoed the frustration of others on the bargaining team after hearing in last week’s total comp negotiations that the Master Labor Agreement (MLA) was still winding its way through the County’s legislative process and members wouldn’t see their wages increases and retro pay until June.
It is strong unions, collective bargaining, and political power that drive wage increases for all King County employees, yet non-represented employees are enjoying the bump in their paycheck that the Coalition had worked for nearly a year to negotiate. “That’s quite frustrating for the membership,” Reinlasoder said.
Reinlasoder's pointed questions came in the context of a presentation by the County’s Budget Director, Dwight Dively, on the financial health of the County. Dively reported a revenue shortfall despite the strong local economy.
The March 29 negotiations started with Coalition chairs, Michael Gonzales and Cecilia Mena, outlining our union’s initial economic proposal, which addresses the high-priority compensation elements in your contract, including wage increases for 2019 and 2020.
The next negotiations sessions are scheduled for April 19 and 26. We expect the County to present its initial proposal in those sessions. If you have questions, please talk to a bargaining committee member or your union representative.
Teamster corrections employees rally on the steps of the state capitol in Olympia on February 13.
The spring issue of our Guardian newsletter is hot off the press! In this issue, you can get caught up on the following stories impacting Teamsters who work at the Department of Corrections:
- Strong turnout at our DOC Lobby Day
- DOC stewards preparing for upcoming contract negotiations
- A successful legislative session in Olympia
- New DOC union representative, Amy Ford
You can access the Guardian online; print copies will be distributed at our upcoming contract proposal meetings over the next two weeks.
Teamster airport drivers who work at Fleetlogix celebrate the ratification of their new four-year contract on March 27.
It's been long time coming, making this moment especially sweet. Teamster drivers who work for Fleetlogix voted unanimously to ratify a new four-year contract yesterday.
The contract vote ends a year-long battle with the employer, who for months wouldn't budge from a number of proposed takeaways, including cuts to the workers' vacation benefits and seniority rights.
From the start, the group of over a hundred members held strong. They turned out for union meetings, wore solidarity buttons, and signed a petition calling for dignified conditions at work.
“We need to stand up for our co-workers and our community,” said Hassan Mohamed, in the midst of the contract campaign.
"We need to stand up for our co-workers and our community."
With scant progress at the bargaining table, the group organized a "march on the boss" action last November. Dozens of workers on shift confronted management at Fleetlogix. They also took their demands to the Avis-Budget Group, the rental car outfit that contracts with Fleetlogix to transport vehicles around Sea-Tac Airport.
In the end, the workers' unity and determination ruled the day. Backed by an engaged membership, our bargaining team held firm against takeaways and won meaningful improvements for the group.
Highlights of the new agreement include improved vacation, expanded bid rights, protections to members' seniority rights, an additional personal day, protections to health and welfare benefits, and meaningful wage increases. Members also won the right to use the Avis-Budget Group's break room.
"This contract absolutely helps all of us at Fleetlogix and it's good for us as an airport crew," said shop steward Sharmake Warsame. "It's good for me, it's good for my crew, and it's good for all of us."
"This campaign was successful because workers played the central role," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "They stood up and spoke out against unjust conditions and inadequate proposals. They worked for months without a contract and never relented. Their solidarity made the difference."
Shop Steward Dan Fernandez (l) and Union Representative Brian Perreira after Total Comp bargaining session on March 22.
Our Coalition of Unions has been working overtime on behalf of Teamsters at King County, and the results speak for themselves.
Last year, the Coalition achieved a first-ever Master Labor Agreement (MLA), which was overwhelmingly ratified by all participating Teamster bargaining units. Our Coalition team bargained a 3.25% wage increase for 2018, one of many improvements in the MLA.
With MLA bargaining wrapping up last fall, the Coalition has already launched into a new round of negotiations with the County, which started earlier this month. “Total Comp” negotiations considers all compensable elements of your contract.
“Total compensation has everything to do with your overall compensation package,” explained Brian Pinney, a bargaining committee member who works in the County’s Solid Waste Division. “A general wage increase, your medical coverage, a lot of other benefits - they’re all covered under Total Comp.”
Negotiations kicked off on March 1 with our Union and the County establishing ground rules for bargaining. Yesterday, the Coalition met independently from the County to map out our priorities for negotiations and to develop a comprehensive initial proposal.
Lisa Ohlen attending the 2018 Shop Steward Seminar.
When Lisa Ohlen, a Teamster at King County Recorder’s Office, attended a union meeting explaining the Supreme Court case that could turn public unions across country into open shops, she was shocked and dismayed. She knew what the deceivingly inviting term open shop meant for workers: loss of their united voice and consequent transfer of power and control into employer’s hands.
“One of the first things to go would be our health benefits, and we have worked really hard to get those. We don’t want to go down the path of Wisconsin,” she said with concern in her voice.
Local 117 members packing up veggies for families in need at the Emergency Food Network warehouse in Tacoma.
On March 3, we did it again! Over a dozen Teamster volunteers came together at an Emergency Food Network (EFN) warehouse in Tacoma to repackage over 5,400 lbs of frozen vegetables in three hours for hungry families in Pierce County.
EFN is the primary food distributor to more than 60 emergency food sites in Pierce County. It enlists volunteers to help repackage fresh, frozen, and dry bulk foods into smaller, family-sized portions that will be distributed to the areas food banks.
“I appreciate my union facilitating this opportunity to volunteer,” said Brandon Sitko, a member from Lineage Cold Storage who has been volunteering with Teamsters at EFN since the first event in April of 2014. “My family joins me, and we always feel good knowing we made a difference.”
“It is only a three hours of my time on a Saturday that mean so much to others in need," added Jason Hernandez, a Teamster at Americold. "I am proud to be part of this and prouder to be a Teamster.”
"My family joins me, and we always feel good knowing we made a difference."
Since 2014, Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy has made it a priority to connect staff, members, their families and friends through community volunteerism.
“At every event we build teamwork and strengthen our commitment to each other and the community,” he shared with the group of volunteers. “This is a small example of what we can do together collectively and achieve something that none of us could have accomplished alone.”
We are already planning another volunteer day at EFN. If you would like to volunteer for future Teamster efforts to help feed families in need, give us a call at 206-441-4860.
Need to get caught up on how the Janus case attempts to silence public employees? Our international union has put together a short primer video. Check it out!
Local 117 shop stewards meet at our Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day at the convention center in downtown Seattle.
In an impressive display of unity and strength, hundreds of rank-and-file leaders of our union assembled together at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle on Saturday.
Our annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day brings all of our stewards across the state under one roof for training, discussion, and the opportunity to learn from each other.
"It's exciting," said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. "Our stewards bring incredible talent, energy, and dedication to our union. When all of us gather together in one room, it's hard not to feel empowered."
This year's seminar focused on the challenges the labor movement faces today while recognizing the struggles and sacrifices of the past.
The event kicked off with three Local 117 members – Cheryl Miller, Eric Sachs, and Van Huynh – giving their accounts of how the union has brought more freedom to their lives. They had participated in last year's essay contest, which brought out a number of powerful union stories from Local 117 members.
Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy followed with his "state of the union" address, which reinforced our collective mission. "Our work as stewards - the work of this union - is to build power and unity, improve lives, and lift up our communities. Together we can accomplish those goals," he said.
"When all of us gather together in one room, it's hard not to feel empowered."
To fulfill that mission, Scearcy outlined the four pillars of our strategic plan: organizing, leadership development, political action, and fortifying our ranks. Many of our achievements over the last two years, he emphasized, have come because we have focused on those priorities.
"Since 2016, we've brought hundreds of new members into our union; we've launched a Teamsters Leadership Academy for member leaders; we've continued to build a powerhouse political program; and we've developed our Family-Strength-Community program to strengthen the union from within given the threat presented by the Janus court case."
Next up was Marie Duarte, our union's Associate General Counsel, who delivered an impassioned legal analysis of Janus and spurred stewards to engage in member-to-member education. Our Legislative Affairs Director, Brenda Wiest, talked about a series of legislative victories for labor this legislative session in Olympia.
In the breakouts sessions, we discussed the importance of welcoming new members into the union and how to use workplace culture to build unity.
The event wrapped up with lunch and a presentation by our in-house historian, Director of Organizing Leonard Smith. Smith walked us through the struggles and achievements of our predecessors in the labor movement from the advent of the Teamsters union, to the Triangle Fire in 1911, to the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 and beyond.
"I'm enjoying every bit of it," said Robin Robinson, a shop steward at King County. “Being in a union is important to me because our jobs need to be strong, our community needs to be strong. We need to have rights and protections as we build our careers."
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.”
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.