When we fight, we win!

Teamsters 117 Wire

Teamsters 117 wins groundbreaking labor protections for Uber and Lyft drivers


Teamsters Local 117 has achieved a significant victory in the fight to bring workers in the gig economy a voice on the job. The Seattle-based Local led the way in helping to pass a new law this November that will institute a first-ever grievance procedure for the City’s more than 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers.

This groundbreaking legislation establishes first-in-the-nation legal protections and representation for drivers who seek to contest unwarranted deactivations in termination proceedings. The law also establishes a Driver Resolution Center to provide a wide range of support services to drivers.

“No longer will Uber and Lyft be the judge, jury, and prosecutor,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Now drivers will have the right to protect their jobs with representation through a fair and impartial process.”

Under the new law, the City will commission an independent study with driver input to determine minimum pay standards for drivers that aligns with Seattle’s minimum wage and accounts for expenses and benefits. A similar process in New York has led to significant increases in pay for drivers. The study will be used to set a compensation floor that will hold Uber and Lyft to the same minimum pay standards as other large employers in Seattle - $16.39 per hour starting in 2020, after expenses. Since it is a pay floor, drivers will have the ability to earn above the City’s established minimum wage.

“I support my family with this job,” says Sukchain Banwait, a long-time Uber and Lyft driver. “We pay for the car, we pay for the gas, we pay for the maintenance, and we pay for the depreciation. We work long hours, and we deserve to get paid fairly.”

"This is a historic step forward in our fight for fair pay and labor protections for Uber and Lyft drivers."

Over the last five years, Teamsters Local 117 has worked to improve conditions in Seattle’s ride-hail industry. In 2015, Local 117 spearheaded efforts to pass a law granting collective bargaining rights for Uber and Lyft drivers. Since then, the ride-hail giants have tied up that legislation in the courts with litigation intended to strip away those rights from drivers. In helping to pass the new law, Local 117 worked to build a coalition of over 60 housing, transit, labor, environmental, health, and social justice organizations.

“This is a historic step forward in our fight for fair pay and labor protections for Uber and Lyft drivers,” Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy said. “Drivers provide critical transportation services to our community. They must be granted a measure of job security and they must be paid a living wage. This legislation strengthens our community, gives drivers a voice, and helps transform our labor movement by establishing groundbreaking rights for workers in the gig economy.”  

Join us for our Holiday Membership Meeting on December 19


Join us for our Holiday Membership Meeting on December 19 at 7PM at the Union Hall in Tukwila! Hundreds of Local 117 members will be gathering together that evening for solidarity and our annual raffle drawing.  

Dozens of prizes are awarded each year, including electronics, power tools, bottles of wine, gift cards, televisions sets, and best of all, NUTS!  All of the gifts are purchased from companies with whom Local 117 has a bargaining relationship.

If you work graveyard and are unable to attend the meeting, be sure to stop by the hall during the day on Thursday for some cookies and holiday cheer and to put your name in for the raffle.

RSVP for the meeting here!

Anti-union "Freedom" Foundation goes after your personal information...Again!


The anti-union “Freedom” Foundation is making yet another attempt to obtain your personal information through a public disclosure request. The request seeks the following information from the Department of Retirement Services (DRS) for all public employees in the State of Washington:

  • First name
  • Middle name
  • Last name
  • Full birthdate
  • Work email address
  • Employer
  • The retirement system in which they currently participate
  • FTE status/percentage
  • Current annual salary
  • Duty station location/address

To learn about what information DRS is planning to release, you can visit their website here. 

In addition to the request submitted to DRS, the “Freedom” Foundation has made a similar request to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) seeking the personal information of all employees who work for the State of Washington.


Make no mistake – this is a direct attack on all public employees and their unions in Washington State. The “Freedom” Foundation is a radical group funded by out-of-state wealthy special interests. They’ve opposed our right to paid sick days and lobbied against wage increases for state employees. Their goal is to privatize public services, defund defined benefit pension plans, and outsource public sector jobs.

Due to outdated public disclosure laws, the efforts of unions and others to block the release of this kind of information in the past has not been affirmed by the courts. The best way we can fight back is by standing together.


  • Talk to your co-workers about the “Freedom” Foundation’s anti-union agenda;
  • Warn your co-workers about the “Freedom” Foundation’s attempt to access their information.

Thank you for your service to our community and for your membership in Teamsters 117.

Seattle Uber & Lyft Drivers Call Passage of 'Fare Share' Legislation a Historic Victory


Mayor Jenny Durkan after a meeting with Uber and Lyft Drivers.

Seattle Uber and Lyft drivers celebrated the passage of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s ‘Fare Share’ plan by the City Council today, calling it a historic victory that will provide long-sought labor protections and lead to higher pay for the City’s 30,000 ride-hail drivers.

This groundbreaking legislation establishes first-in-the-nation legal protections against unwarranted deactivations. The legislation will also establish a Driver Resolution Center to provide a wide range of support services to drivers.

“After I was hit by an uninsured motorist, Uber shut off my app. Uber calls it deactivation, I call it getting fired for no reason,” says Bob Gulbranson, who has driven for Uber for several years. “This legislation gives drivers a voice and a chance to be treated fairly.”

In addition to creating a grievance process and funding a worker organization for drivers, the legislation mandates that all drivers be paid no less than Seattle’s minimum wage after expenses by July 1, 2020. The City will commission an independent wage study with driver input to determine appropriate pay for drivers based on hours worked, expenses incurred, and benefits.

At today’s City Council budget hearing, drivers said they were eager to participate in the study to help develop a fair pay standard so that they can finally earn a living wage after expenses and stop the race-to-the-bottom in Seattle’s ride-hail industry.

“I support my family with this job,” says Sukchain Banwait, a long-time Uber and Lyft driver. “We pay for the car, we pay for the gas, we pay for the maintenance, and we pay for the depreciation. We work long hours, and we deserve to get paid fairly.”

The legislation is funded through a 51-cent tax on trips by ride-hail giants Uber and Lyft. Proceeds from the fee will also support community investments in affordable housing and transit improvements so that drivers and other working families in Seattle have a greater opportunity to live closer to where they work.

Teamsters Local 117 has worked with the App-Based Drivers Association to improve conditions for drivers in Seattle’s ride-hail industry. Both organizations are members of a Fare Share coalition of over 60 housing, transit, labor, environmental, health, and social justice groups that have come together to support the legislation and to make sure Seattle’s growth works for everyone.

ABG Teamsters vote overwhelmingly to approve new contract


Teamsters at ABG, who score among the highest in the nation for their customer service, voting yes on a strong contract.

Teamsters at Avis Budget Group, Inc who work at SeaTac Airport have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new 5-year contract. The group of approximately 150 customer service agents and sales representatives met last week to approve the proposal. They have been in bargaining since May of this year and even as the company was sluggish in their response, the group was successful in achieving wage and pension increases, sick leave improvements and bargaining unit work protections.

"As the economy is set to be shaky in the next few years, we value the security of a good contract."

“We are very happy to lock the wage increases in for five years,” said Sean Reis, a Teamster shop steward and a service agent at Avis. “As the economy is set to be shaky in the next few years, we value the security of a good contract.”

This group of Teamsters services millions of customers passing through SeaTac Airport. The pressure on them is high to keep lines of clients satisfied, yet their performance is top-notch and customer reviews rank them in the highest tier across the country. Teamsters at Avis feel this contract is a reflection of their hard work.

“I’ve worked here for 30 years,” concludes Reis. “This contract is among the best we’ve had.”



Got Teamsters medical? Save on your 2020 medical costs!


Got Teamsters medical? You can save on your 2020 medical expenses by taking a confidential Health Assessment if you are covered under the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust. 

If you, and your eligible spouse or covered domestic partner 18 years of age and older, both take your annual Health Assessment between November 1 and December 15, you will qualify for the following incentives:

Medical Plan A, B, C, and Z – your annual deductible in 2020 will be $200 less for individual coverage and up to $600 less for family coverage than if you do not take it.

The assessment is a confidential questionnaire about your lifestyle and health. It's easy to complete and gives you the opportunity to improve and maintain healthy habits.

To take the assessment, visit wateamsters.vivacity.com. If you're having trouble, email Vivacity at teamsters@vivacity.net  or 855-784-4562 to request a paper version. 


Holiday updates for Teamsters at King County


Angela Rogness works in King County's domestic violence advocacy program in the Regional Justice Center in Kent.

As we head into the holiday season, we wanted to provide a few updates for Teamsters who work at King County:

  • Contract Negotiations: Master Labor Agreement (MLA) negotiations at King County will kick off in the first quarter of 2020 followed by bargaining over your individual appendix agreements. To prepare for bargaining, we'll be surveying the membership and providing lots of opportunities for you to engage in the process. Stay tuned!
  • Your Teamsters Contract: With negotiations approaching, now is a good time to review your Teamsters contract. You can access the MLA and your bargaining unit's individual appendix agreement on our Union's website here.
  • Wage Increases: All Teamsters at King County will receive a negotiated 3% wage increase in 2020, with 1.5% coming on January 1, 2020 and another 1.5% on July 1.
  • Coalition Bonus: All members on payroll January 1, 2020 will receive a $500 coalition bonus. The bonus applies to members of the King County Coalition of Unions only of which Teamsters 117 is a part
  • Teamsters Holiday Meeting: Join us for our Holiday Membership Meeting and raffle drawing extravaganza on Thursday, December 19 at 7 p.m at our Union Hall in Tukwila! This is fun event with lots of prizes and a good way to connect with your Union. You can RSVP for the meeting on our Teamsters website here.

I have one other piece of good news to share. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures changes in prices associated with the cost-of-living, is hovering between 1.7% and 2.2% for the Seattle/Tacoma region for 2019. The fact that our Union Coalition was able to negotiate a 4% increase for 2019 shows the strength of our Coalition and the power of an engaged and informed membership.


VIDEO: Sysco Teamster fighting for justice!

Sysco Teamster, Will Buff, talks about the power of his Teamsters contract.

Union files statewide grievance to protest inadequate staffing levels at DOC


Our Union has filed a grievance with the State to protest inadequate and unsafe staffing levels for all Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.

The grievance is based on findings from an independent review of the DOC staffing model conducted by CGL Companies. You can view the grievance here.

CGL Companies produced a report titled Washington Department of Corrections Prison Staffing Model Review that was published in June of 2019.

CGL's audit revealed that the Department is significantly understaffed in several areas. The report concluded, for example, that an additional 250 custody staff are required above levels funded and that there are severe shortages in a number of non-custody areas as well.

You can view CGL's complete report here.

To resolve the grievance we are demanding that the State implement suggestions contained in the report among a number of other remedies. 

We will keep you updated on the status of this grievance as we work our way through the grievance and arbitration process as outlined in our collective bargaining agreement.

If you have questions, please talk to your Union Representative.

UNFI unprepared to negotiate over severance for laid off Teamsters


UNFI/SuperValu negotiations committee is committed to protecting our members rights under their contract and under the Arbitrator's award.

UNFI arrived without their lead negotiator and unprepared to bargain with Teamsters Local 117 and Local 313 when they met with the Union on Thursday and Friday in Tukwila to discuss severance packages for Teamsters who are facing layoffs by the Company. As a result, the two-day negotiations session resulted in little progress.

In the last few weeks, more than 70 UNFI employees working at the Tacoma warehouse have been laid off with the remaining employees to be laid off over the next 30 days.

“UNFI is not interested in negotiating a quality severance package for the majority of our members and their families whose lives have been severely disrupted by the Company’s decision to relocate operations from Tacoma to Centralia,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We came ready to negotiate and we formally proposed to accept an offer the Company had made on October 1 without a single change – not even a comma – but the Company rejected their own proposal.”

The Union is consider filing additional charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over unlawful regressive bargaining tactics.

"UNFI is not interested in negotiating a reasonable severance package for the majority of our members."

UNFI is continuing to refuse to honor a neutral arbitrator’s decision to allow employees at the Company’s Tacoma warehouse to transfer to its Centralia facility with the same wages and terms and conditions that the Tacoma employees have been working under.

“Arbitrator Joseph Duffy ruled unequivocally for the Union in awarding full transfer rights to our members with the wages, benefits, and other protections,” Scearcy said. “His decision is legally sound and upholds contract language that the Company agreed to in negotiations. Not only did UNFI agree to the contract language enforced by Arbitrator Duffy, but it also agreed that arbitration decisions would be final and binding. We are confident that the courts will side with the Arbitrator and rule to make whole our members for any losses they may have incurred while they were unlawfully laid off.”

UNFI has a history of labor unrest with the Teamsters. In December 2012, members of Teamsters Local 117 employed at UNFI’s distribution center in Auburn entered into a 9-week strike over a number of alleged violations of federal labor law.


Tentative contract agreement reached with Safeway Dairy


Shop Steward Andy Peterson served on the Union negotiations committee that achieved a settlement offer with Safeway Dairy.

Our Union negotiations committee has achieved a fully-recommended tentative agreement over a 3-year contract with Safeway Dairy/Ice Cream. Our Union team reached the agreement with Safeway in a negotiations session at our Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila on October 30 and 31.

A contract ratification vote will be held for Safeway Dairy Teamsters on Saturday, November 23 in Tukwila. The Union bargaining committee will unanimously recommend that the membership approve the settlement.

One of the central issues for the Union in negotiations was to ensure that the Company provided affordable health care benefits for retirees. Members voted unanimously to authorize a strike last month after the Company had refused to make an acceptable proposal on the issue.

"We appreciate the hard work of our Union negotiations team at having reached this tentative agreement," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "We are preparing the final contract documents and look forward to giving our members an opportunity to review and vote on the proposal."

Teamsters at the Safeway Dairy Plant Vote Unanimously to Authorize a Strike!


Shop Steward Andy Peterson and his co-workers at the Safeway Dairy plant are ready to strike.

It's unanimous. Teamsters 117 members who work at the Safeway Dairy plant in Bellevue have voted to authorize a strike. Members took the strike authorization vote after a contract update meeting at our Teamsters Union hall in Tukwila on Sunday.

The vote comes after the employer made a number of substandard proposals in negotiations failing to recognize the hard work and sacrifices of their employees. Teamsters at the plant have worked hundreds of hours of overtime over the last year to help keep the facility operating and profitable.  

"A lot of people are really pissed off," said Matt Lewis, a 28-year employee and member of our union negotiations team. "We've all given so much to this company. We're here almost every weekend. A lot of us have doubled the number of hours we've worked.  We're giving everything we can to make sure this place is successful. And for management not to recognize that has been really hard on everybody."

"We're giving everything we can to make sure this place is successful."

One of the major sticking points in negotiations has been health care for retirees. Our members want to make sure retirees have access to affordable health care, while the company has been unwilling to provide it.

In the last negotiations session, the company admitted the reason for skimping on medical coverage for retirees: They don't want to provide decent benefits because they don't want to see their senior employees retire. This infuriated the union committee.

"It's a slap in the face," said Shop Steward Andy Petersen, who also serves on the Union negotiations committee. "A lot of guys are eligible to retire, but medical's a big part, and they can't afford it. If the company truly values their employees like they say they do, health care should be a top priority."

With negotiations scheduled for the end of the month, members are gearing up for a strike, if necessary.

"If the company isn't prepared to bargain an equitable contract, our members are ready to strike," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "These employees have made tremendous sacrifices to make sure the plant is profitable. The company needs to recognize that." 

Another win! PERC orders UW to cover paid family leave premium for officers


Officer and Shop Steward Mark Hackett has worked on campus for over twelve years.

The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has ruled in favor of our Union in an Unfair Labor Practice case with the University of Washington involving paid family leave for UW police. 

During negotiations, the employer signed off on a tentative contract agreement that included a proposal to cover the complete paid family leave premium for Teamsters at the UW Police Department (UWPD). On the day of the contract ratification vote, the employer tried to renege on the proposal.

Our Union filed an Unfair Labor Practice arguing that the employer must uphold its end of the negotiated agreement. The case went to hearing in June, and we received the PERC examiner's decision this week.

In its order, PERC ruled that the employer had breached its "good faith bargaining obligations by refusing to honor agreements reached in bargaining." 

PERC is ordering the employer to cover the paid family leave premium for UWPD union members or "make an equivalent payment to bargaining unit employees." Employees will also be made whole for any premium contributions deducted from their pay that contradict the paid family leave article.

"It really shows how important it is having Teamsters as our union."

"It was important to keep them accountable because they were trying to go back on their word," said Officer Mike Miskell, in reacting to the PERC ruling. "Everybody at the UWPD really appreciates the hard work. Also with getting interest arbitration, it really shows how important it is having Teamsters as our union."

"Our members at the UWPD and across our union honor the terms and conditions of their contracts, and we expect employers to do the same," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "When an employer makes a commitment in negotiations, we will hold them accountable. This is an important victory for all Teamsters, and a testament to the outstanding work of our Union's legal team."

You can read the PERC examiner's complete ruling and order here.

DOC custody staff vote to expand uniform options


The results of the recent vote are in regarding Article 36 – Uniforms, Tool, and Equipment for DOC custody staff who are members of Teamsters 117. The vote involved whether to modify Article 36 to grant custody members the ability to wear polo shirts as a DOC uniform option. 

The vote results are as follows:

  • 1280 - Yes (I Accept)
  • 73 - No (I Reject)

With this vote, custody members will now be able to wear polo shirts as a uniform option. As with other uniform options, polo shirts will be provided by the Department at no cost to custody staff. Under the agreement, members will retain the option to wear BDU-style shirts.

This concludes a long process of negotiations over the issue with the Department. Thank you to all of the members and staff on our DOC Uniform Committee who helped negotiated the agreement.

If you have questions, please contact your Union Representative or one of the members on the Uniform Committee:

  • Elizabeth Beaber, WCCW
  • Stephen Bolinger, CRCC
  • Lloyd Bookter, CBCC
  • Reginald Braswell, CCCC
  • Edwin Gonzalez, MCC
  • Angela Henneman, SCCC
  • Corey Schmidt, WSP
  • Gordon Sprague, MCCCW
  • Jami Todd, CRCC
  • Douglas Vincent, WCC

Teamsters keep beating UNFI - this time will be no different


UNFI Teamsters in Tacoma protest the company's failure to make timely health and welfare and retirement payments to the Trust. 

UNFI can't get rid of the Teamsters. As many times as the anti-union company has tried, we’re still here to protect our members.

Since 2012, UNFI lost a strike and two major arbitrations to our union. UNFI keeps striking out.

This week, UNFI suffered a huge defeat in arbitration. An Arbitrator rightly held UNFI was obligated to abide by the contract language it negotiated. 

Rather than honor our contract and the Arbitrator’s final and binding decision however, UNFI announced that they would appeal to federal court and attempt to set aside the well-reasoned Arbitration Award.

Our contract states:

The processing, disposition and/or settlement by and between the Union and the Employer of any grievance or other matter shall be absolute and final and binding on the Union and its members, the employee(s) involved and the Employer. Likewise, as to hearings and the final decisions of a Board or Arbitrator.

But UNFI has demonstrated over and over that it does not honor its commitments in negotiations.

With many employers, we wouldn’t have even arbitrated this case. Our contract with UNFI gives members the right to transfer and retain their wages and benefits in the event that the employer moves operations within the jurisdiction of our Joint Council. It states: 

In the event that the Employer moves an existing facility to any location within the jurisdiction of Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28, as currently defined excluding current facilities under the jurisdiction of and the service area of Teamsters Local Union No. 690, the terms of this contract shall continue to apply with respect to the new facility. 

Seems pretty clear.  So when UNFI announced they would be shutting down their Tacoma warehouse and moving to a new facility in Centralia, the reasonable assumption was that the company would uphold its end of the bargain, as our Union and members have for decades.

Instead, UNFI ignored the contract and said the terms and conditions of the Tacoma agreement would not apply to our members who transferred to Centralia, and even denied our members the opportunity to transfer to Centralia, thus creating uncertainty for over 300 union members and their families. Thanks to the excellent work of our legal team, we were able to fight the company in arbitration and win. 

This is not the first time our union has won an important victory against UNFI.

In July, UNFI employees in Tacoma walked out of the facility after the company was delinquent on health care and retirement payments that the company had agreed to in negotiations. Teamsters did not return to work until the union confirmed that UNFI had made the payment.

In 2016, the company had to cough up 50k for its failure to appropriately compensate employees who had worked in excess of 40 hours a week.

These victories can be attributed to a unified membership, strong contracts, and strong leadership. Under the direction of John Scearcy and Tracey Thompson before him, Local 117 has fought the anti-worker practices of UNFI, and we have have won.

This time will be no different. We will take on UNFI and we will win.