When we fight, we win!

Teamsters 117 Wire

Teamster sharpshooters take aim at hunger


Teamsters fighting hunger (from l to r): Matthew House, Mark Hackett, Chris Ellrodt, Roger Gale, and Jed Slagter. 

A group of sharpshooters from two Teamster police departments joined forces last month to take aim at hunger. Officers from the City of Pacific and the University of Washington along and their union representative, Matthew House, teamed up for the Emergency Food Network’s annual Breaking Hunger Trap Shooting and Archery Tournament.

The contest, held at the Gig Harbor Sportsmen’s Club on August 10, raised over $16 thousand dollars to help feed hungry families in Pierce County. “This was my first time,” said Sergeant Jed Slagter, who heard about the event from a fellow officer. “It was for a good cause, well organized, and a lot of fun.”

"It was for a good cause, well organized, and a lot of fun."

Slagter, who’s been on the force at the City of Pacific Police Department for five years, talked about the importance of his union giving back to the community. “It’s great for Teamsters to participate in these kinds of charitable events,” he said.

Our union’s Executive Board covered the team’s registration fee. All proceeds from the event go to benefit the Emergency Food Network.

Thank you to our members from the Teamsters Law Enforcement & Corrections Division who participated in the tournament:

  • Jed Slagter, City of Pacific Police Dept.
  • Roger Gale, City of Pacific Police Dept.
  • Chris Ellrodt, University of Washington Police Dept.
  • Mark Hackett, University of Washington Police Dept.

The Pierce County emergency food system includes 67 food banks providing over 15 million meals annually to over a hundred thousand families in need. Teamsters Local 117 is a generous supporter of EFN and has participated in a number of volunteer events to benefit the organization.

King County coalition of unions reaches tentative agreement in total comp negotiations


Late yesterday afternoon our King County Coalition of Union bargaining members unanimously recommended moving forward a tentative agreement on economics.

This includes the landslide victory of a 4% general wage increase for 2019 and a total of 3% general wage increase for 2020 plus a $500 bonus only offered to Coalition Union members.

It also includes enhancements to insurance such as a full reinstatement of retiree benefits, long-term disability paid for by the County, an added voluntary short-term disability plan and increased benefits for vision coverage. This means an increase to wages of 10.25% (plus a $500 bonus) over a three-year span.

Our Union Coalition and its member representatives have been negotiating with the County for months and are pleased to come to this tentative deal. We still have individual contract negotiations before the agreement is finalized and ready to vote, but we will keep you updated with more information to come.

We appreciate the many hours of negotiations, work and advocacy the entire bargaining team put into these negotiations and are confident that it will be a competitive package for our members.

More details to come as they materialize, but we are very excited to announce this excellent news.

Union presents powerful closing argument as DOC interest arbitration hearing draws to a close


Today our union’s legal team presented a powerful closing statement before the arbitrator as we concluded our case for higher compensation for DOC Teamsters in our 2019-2021 contract.

Our union’s number one priority is a general wage increase for all bargaining unit members that recognizes the challenging and dangerous nature of your work and the critical public safety service you provide to communities across Washington State.

Our case is built on compelling testimony from members who spoke during the arbitration of threats to their families, assaults against staff, high turnover, crushing overtime, and other safety-related concerns that make working inside a prison in our state unique.

In closing, our union attorney summarized our argument:

“The Department, the State, and its citizens benefit every hour of every day that its correctional workers put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the Department and the public at large, and it cannot continue to be the case that these employees continue to internalize some portion of the cost of the work by being undercompensated.”

Our case is also built on persuasive comparable data presented by a financial expert witness retained by the union. Our witness testified that compensation for Washington State corrections employees is not commensurate with corrections workers in similarly-sized states, counties, and jurisdictions.

The employer tried to dismiss our data at the county level, stating that the DOC is not losing large numbers of employees to the counties. We vigorously contested that position. No matter how you slice the data, members of the bargaining unit are significantly undercompensated. Even the State admitted that your compensation falls well below the comparators.

Still, throughout the hearing, the State clung to its final economic proposal in negotiations. The State’s attorney testified in her closing argument that a general wage increase of 2% in year one and 2% in year two of the contract is “fair and reasonable.” This proposal is grossly inadequate and would not even keep pace with the cost of living. It’s no surprise that the State’s proposal was rejected by 99% of members participating in our recent contract vote.

In contrast, our union's final protected position going into arbitration was an across-the-board general wage increase of 8.5% in year one and 8.5% in year two of the contract, plus a 3.6% cost-of-living increase in each year of the contract. Our position was based on comparable data researched by our financial experts and the current consumer price index.

Our case also showed how profound recruitment and retention difficulties at the Department adversely impact morale, safety, and lead to inordinate amounts of overtime. We presented evidence that the Department has an astounding 8% vacancy rate in CO2 positions alone. In their closing, the State continued to downplay recruitment and retention as a problem.

The arbitrator must issue his decision by no later than October 1 and has indicated that we can expect it to come as early as September 26. As soon as we receive the award, we will publish it on our union’s website with a summary and our analysis. Thank you to the members who took time away from their families to testify during arbitration. Their testimony about the challenges of working in Washington State prisons makes our case for higher wages genuine, compelling, and strong.

Your Labor Day Bucket List - What's Happening & Where


Looking for things to knock off your list this Labor Day? Check out these family-friendly events:

BURIEN: The King County MLK Labor Council is putting on a BBQ & Block Party in Burien Town Square Park on Monday, September 3 from 11AM to 2:30PM. Come celebrate with your family alongside Teamsters and other union members, with food and games for the kiddos. You can learn more & RSVP for the event on the MLKCLC Facebook page.

LAKEWOOD: The Pierce County Central Labor Council is holding their annual Labor Day BBQ event, also on Monday. The event will take place at Fort Steilacoom Park from 11:30AM to 5PM. They'll have mouth-watering barbecue prepared by union members as well as games and prizes for the kids. All union members and their families are welcome! Get more info and RSVP on Facebook. 

EVERETT: The Snohomish County Labor Council will host a Labor Day March and Block Party on Monday, Sept. 3. The march begins at 11 a.m. at the Everett Workers Memorial (Pacific & Wetmore) and Block Party will follow at the Labor Temple, 2810 Lombard St. Get details.

Later that afternoon, union members will be gathering for a rally at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle from 4:30PM to 6PM to support members of UNITE Here Local 8. We'll be calling on the Marriott, the world’s biggest and richest hotel company, to provide one job that is enough for hotel workers. Find out more here.

Lots going on for you and your family to plug into the fun, meaningful ways we all can support workers this Labor Day.

DOC interest arbitration marked by powerful member testimony


Over the last few days, our interest arbitration hearing has been marked by powerful testimony from members and some frustrating moments from DOC management.

Last Thursday, correctional officer James Deuel of WCC testified about scaled-back staffing levels on graveyard shift and how it impacts safety. He also addressed the cumulative stress of the job:

“I'm a human being.  I don't think that anybody should have to see some of the things that I've seen.  I mean, when it comes to offenders assaulting other offenders, possibly killing them, which has happened, hurting themselves, hurting each other…”

Officer Deuel also spoke about threats to his own safety and to his family, and of encountering offenders after they’ve been released into the community:

“If I'm by myself, it's just like being at work.  If I'm with my kids it's very -- it's nerve-wracking, something you don't want to see.”

Adam Kapa, a transportation sergeant at WCC, testified about the dangers of operating a chain bus:

“We don’t know what we're getting.  We haven't had time to classify them.  We haven't had time to get to know them, they're just delivered to us by the counties….we don't know what else their temperament is like, what they're going to do.”

Like Deuel, Sergeant Kapa spoke of threats directed at him and his family:

“I've received threats of physical harm or death to myself, to my family, rape of my wife and daughter, and myself.  I've – several threats – pretty much as heinous as you can think.”

Through member testimony, like that of Officer Deuel and Sergeant Kapa, our union’s legal team is establishing the risks and high-level stress associated with the job as we continue to make our case for higher compensation than the State proposed in contract negotiations.

Last week, we also heard from DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair. Sinclair’s testimony irked members in the room, especially when he stated that he hadn’t given a lot of thought about whether members of the bargaining unit are satisfied with their compensation.  He also testified that he hadn’t heard much from members who are dissatisfied with their compensation. These remarks seemed tone deaf and completely out of touch with the rank-and-file.

This week, we've had an expert witness present comparable data in states of like sizes and jurisdictions as well as data involving compensation for corrections employees at the county level.

We anticipate wrapping up the hearing this Friday, at which point we will give you another update. Please check your email and look for more information coming soon.

View a short video update from the hearing below:


Teamsters Take on Crystal Mountain


What if you were asked to run 100+ miles up a mountain for two days and through the night? Justin Hamrick, a Local 117 member and police officer at the town of Steilacoom put together a team of eight people to do just that.

There were three Teamsters on this team representing the Steilacoom Police Department. They ran alongside high school officials from Steilacoom, police officers from the City of Lakewood and a National Guard recruiter. This challenging run was a relay race organized by Ragnar.

"It’s just the kind of people I work with — we take the challenge head on."

“Almost every person I approached was eager to join even if they were not running enthusiasts,” shared Hamrick, who was the team captain. “It’s just the kind of people I work with — we take the challenge head on.”

The weather promised to be warm, but on the day of the race the highs were just grazing fifties while nighttime turned a cold shoulder to the runners bringing with it some chilling thirties. Still, the Steilacoom team took it as an opportunity to push harder and come closer together. It was a test of individual will and team spirit. Each participant ended up covering 16 miles of rugged mountainous terrain.

Teamsters supported this race by donating $500 towards the costs, part of which went to local charities including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Girls on the Run.

Hamrick is looking forward to making this a yearly race. “There was a big teambuilding aspect to it. We have a small team and don’t get to spend as much time together.”

From protecting to connecting to feeding our communities, Teamsters run our economy… and an occasional mountain.

Teamster bus drivers at the Port of Seattle are banding together


Port of Seattle bus driver Tambra Fontes shows off her union solidarity band. 

You’ll see them on the wrists of bus drivers circling around Sea-Tac Airport – white bands bearing a message of unity and strength. The bands read: We decide how strong our union will be. When drivers pass each other on their routes, they raise their fists as a show of union pride.

Local 117 member Tambra Fontes got the idea for the wristbands, together with shop steward Monica Petty. “We were trying to unify all of us drivers and get us to become one,” Tambra said.

Tambra hails from a strong union family. Her father worked for the postal service, where he was a shop steward for his union. Her husband, Josh Hoopes, is a Local 117 member at Animal Supply. “Getting this job was everything for me,” she said. “Being Teamsters is exactly what my dad wanted for me. It felt like our future was set – you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

"It felt like our future was set – you couldn’t ask for anything more."

Tambra and Monica have been teaming up to alert their co-workers about the potential impact of the Janus court case. They’ve talked about the importance of sticking with the union.

Their call for solidarity has been effective as nearly all Port of Seattle bus drivers have signed cards committing to the union. “When we stand together, our freedom, power and unity cannot be taken from us,” Monica says.

Getting people signed up on commitment cards was essential, but the two women also wanted a symbol that matched the message. “Being a driver, it’s kind of hard for all of us to connect,” Tambra said. “The wristbands are something that we can wear to let everybody know we’re all one.”

With contract negotiations coming up next year sustaining that unity will be key. The drivers have already shown that no court case or external group can weaken their voice on the job. Tambra and Monica have decided that they want to keep their union strong. And because of members like them, it is.

Standing Strong: Sysco Teamsters vote unanimously to authorize a strike


Sysco Teamsters in front of our union hall in Tukwila after the strike authorization vote. 

There was not a single no vote in the house.  All Teamster drivers and warehouse workers who packed the union hall for the Sysco meeting on Saturday cast their vote to authorize a strike.

The unanimous strike vote sends a clear message to the company that the group is not backing down in their fight for fairness.

The company came into negotiations with a substandard proposal across the board and have taken some actions that we are investigating as potential violations of federal labor law.

“Teamsters at Sysco in Seattle are prepared to strike for fair treatment and to protect their livelihoods,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117 and the lead negotiator for the union. “Our members work incredibly hard to supply safe food service products to schools, restaurants, and hospitals across our region. The company needs to recognize them for their labor.”

Negotiations between Sysco and our union got underway in July, with the contract set to expire on September 1. No extension agreement has been signed.

In other parts of the country, Sysco has been trampling on the rights of workers. In recent months, Local 117 members have participated in Days of Action to show solidarity with Teamsters in Oklahoma where the company has fired multiple shop stewards and tried to break the union. Late last year, Sysco Teamsters in Missouri established an unfair labor practice picket line to protest alleged violations of federal labor law.

We are hopeful that when Sysco returns to the negotiations table, they will bargain in good faith. We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information.

Investment in Member Training Pays Off with Local 117 Leadership Academy


Congratulations to our Teamsters Leadership Academy participants who just finished up an 8-month training that covered topics like labor history, organizing, building union power, contract enforcement, communications, and more.

This program is part of our union's strategic priority to invest in member leadership and development. That priority grew out of member input into our 2016-2019 strategic plan.

In last night's training, Cheryl Miller of DOC and Skyler Still of GP Gypsum shared their experiences with the group of organizing solidarity-building actions at their workplaces. 

Cheryl put on a day-long BBQ for members at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane, while Skyler rallied his co-workers to wear buttons to coincide with a visit from corporate so that he could bring to their attention concerns on the shop floor. 

What an amazing group of Local 117 leaders committed to building a stronger union! We'll be recognizing these members on their achievements at the September membership meeting. Don't miss it!


Union demands equity on wages as DOC interest arbitration begins


Our union team presented the case for higher compensation for DOC Teamsters today in the first day of our interest arbitration hearing with the State.

The core of our argument is that our corrections members deserve more than the State’s proposal to raise wages by 2% in year one and 2% in year two of our contract. The membership unequivocally rejected that proposal by 98.8% to 1.2% in the recent DOC contract vote.

The results of the vote triggered the interest arbitration clause in our contract. It also sent a powerful message to the arbitrator that the State’s substandard proposal does not come close to recognizing the critical work DOC Teamsters do to serve and protect our communities.

Unfortunately, the State is still not getting the message. They continued to maintain in today’s proceedings that higher wages for DOC are unnecessary and unwarranted.

Our union attorneys countered by laying out our argument for higher wages based on comparables with corrections employees in like jurisdictions. You can view the union’s opening statement here.

Teamsters win strong contract at SuperValu


Our union team gathers on the first day of contract negotiations with SuperValu.

Over the weekend, Teamsters who work in SuperValu’s grocery warehouse in Tacoma voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract. The contract provides annual wage increases, excellent health and welfare coverage, and retirement security for over 200 members of Local 117 and their families.

“One of the highlights for me was ensuring full maintenance of our medical benefits,” said Anthony McKinney, a shop steward who served on our union’s negotiations committee. “A lot of my co-workers are on their way to having children. They’ll see the incredible benefit of keeping this medical coverage in our contract.”

"They’ll see the incredible benefit of keeping this medical coverage..."

The agreement maintains industry standards and aligns with other Teamster grocery contracts, including those at Safeway and Fred Meyer. This is a major accomplishment given the dramatic changes and consolidation in the industry.

A little over a year ago, SuperValu purchased Unified Grocers for $390 million. Teamsters who had worked in Unified’s Seattle warehouse moved down to the SuperValu facility in Tacoma.

A Resounding NO: DOC Teamsters Vote to Reject State's Contract Propsoal


Our message is loud and clear. By an overwhelming margin, DOC Teamsters have voted to reject the State’s contract proposal.

The final vote results are as follows:

  • 98.8% (2886) voted to REJECT the State’s offer.
  • 1.2% (34) voted to ACCEPT the State's offer

With over 50% of the DOC membership casting a ballot, this contract vote has one of the highest voter participation rates ever.

Clearly, the membership found the State’s proposal to increase wages by 2% in year one and 2% in year two insultingly low. With a strong economy and higher than expected revenues, the State needs to do more to recognize your work and the sacrifices you make every day to serve and protect our communities.

The vote to reject the proposal means that we now have the opportunity to present our argument for higher wages before a neutral, third-party arbitrator in a hearing scheduled to start this Wednesday, August 22 in Tacoma. 

The arbitrator will listen to evidence on both sides and issue a decision on general wage increases and other economic elements of our contract by the end of September.

No matter what the arbitrator decides, we will need to make sure that the award is fully funded by the State legislature during the next legislative session in Olympia, which starts in January. This will require a massive participation at our annual Lobby Day event, which will take place in February next year.

The interest arbitration hearing is scheduled to run for eight days. During the hearing, we will provide you with regular updates. We will also be calling on members of the bargaining unit to testify at the hearing as we make our case before the arbitrator. 

Thank you to everyone who made their voice heard and for following the lead of our union’s negotiations committee that unanimously recommended that you reject the State’s proposal.

Your work as Teamster corrections employees is worth more than the State’s substandard offer. You face challenges and dangers on the job that the public doesn’t understand to protect all of us. The State needs to do more to honor your service.

King County total comp update - August 10, 2018


Members of Teamsters 117 on our King County Coalition of Unions negotiations team.

Our union coalition team was back at the negotiations table with King County yesterday as we continue to bargain over your wages and health care for 2019-2020.

These so-called “Total Comp” negotiations have been ongoing since February with a group of dozens of rank-and-file union members, including more than 20 Teamsters, representing your interests in bargaining.

We have entered the challenging period in these negotiations when we are relatively close to an agreement but still have a few critical issues to resolve.

The County made a proposal in the last session that involved many moving parts including general wage increases and other economic elements of your contract. Our group spent much of yesterday’s session identifying the highest priority items that will have the greatest benefit to the largest number of represented members at the County.

The good news is that the fund that safeguards our health care benefits is in excellent shape. The Protected Fund Reserve (PFR), which was established in 2013 by the Joint Labor Management Insurance Committee (JLMIC), has grown from $25 million to a projected $66 million in 2018.

Tracey Thompson returns to lead our union's legal dept


Welcome back Tracey Thompson (l) and thank you Marie Duarte (r) for your outstanding service!

Brothers and Sisters -

Changes are coming to our outstanding Teamsters 117 legal team. In September, Marie Duarte, our Associate General Counsel, will be returning to the east coast to be closer to her family.

During her tenure at Local 117, Marie has been a passionate advocate for workers' rights, has successfully defended dozens of members of our union in arbitration, and has handled challenging litigation. My deep appreciation goes out to Marie for her work on behalf of all members of Teamsters 117.

Knowing Marie, I have the utmost confidence that she will continue to rise to the defense of workers no matter where her career path takes her in the future. We wish her all the best!

In parting, Marie has these words to share: "It has been a privilege to represent the members of Teamsters Local 117 for almost two years. I am humbled by the trust that John, Michelle, and the members put in me to help realize their collective vision of building power and unity for working people. As an immigrant woman, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to bring a new voice to this work. Thank you for the opportunity to serve."

Returning to replace Marie, we welcome a familiar face. Tracey Thompson has accepted the position of General Counsel of Teamsters 117 effective September 10. 

"It is an honor to return to serve the members of this union that I love..."

For those of you who don't know Tracey, she is somewhat of a legend in the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest. Tracey was a staff attorney at our Local for six years before serving as Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117 from 2009-2015. 

Tracey brings an extraordinary legal mind to the position, an intimate knowledge of our union, and a deep passion for defending the rights of workers. To top it off, Tracey is in good health and eager to get started. We are thrilled to have Tracey back on board!

"It is an honor to return to serve the members of this union that I love under the outstanding leadership of John Scearcy and Michelle Woodrow," Tracey said. "I'm ready to hit the ground running and ensure that our union's legal counsel is second to none."

Please join me in thanking Marie for her service and welcoming Tracey back to our union! 

In unity,

John Scearcy

TAKE ACTION: Defend attacks on health care for state employees!

Hands-Off-Our-Health-Care.pngAccess to good health care is critical for State employees, but so far the State is not getting the message. In the current round of health care negotiations, their proposal would increase out-of-pocket costs for you and your family.

Our coalition of unions has proposed COST SAVINGS through a reduced premium share, but the State is pushing back. We need to flood the Governor's office with phone calls and emails now!

Tell the Governor to fund a health care agreement that values the hard work you perform to serve and protect our communities. 

During the recession, State employees made sacrifices to help the State through its financial crisis. Now that the State is back on solid financial footing, they need to prevent costly increases to your health care.


Call Governor Inslee's office at 360-902-4111 or send him an email now. Urge him to:

  • Support a fair health care agreement that values the hard work and sacrifices you make to serve and protect our communities.

Please call and email the Governor now!