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.
We did it! Thanks to your efforts, the legislature allocated funding in the state budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the Department of Corrections.
The Department has been operating under a staffing model that has not been reviewed in 30 years. An external audit of DOC staffing levels is an important step toward making our prisons safer for DOC Teamsters.
This is OUR victory. It's something we've been working towards as a union for the past four years. All of your lobby visits, phone calls and emails to legislators made the difference.
Thank you for your hard work and congrats!
You can access a complete report from the 2018 legislative session to learn about other legislative accomplishments that impact Local 117 members.
Teamsters gather on the steps of the State Capitol in Olympia during our Lobby Day event on February 13.
The 2018 legislative session wrapped up yesterday with some historic wins for workers.
The legislature passed a number of measures that expand our rights in the workplace and protect working families. For members of our union, we were successful in achieving many of our legislative priorities.
Thanks to your efforts at our lobby day in February, we secured funding in the budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the Department of Corrections.
This represents a major victory for our DOC members. The DOC has been operating under a staffing model that has not been reviewed in 30 years.
The current model does not account for the deficiencies of the aging facilities and the additional demands placed on staff through previous legislative change. This has led to serious safety concerns in an already dangerous environment.
An audit at the DOC is an important step in making our prisons safer for the staff who risk their lives to protect us.
Several hundred DOC members will also benefit from a bill (HB 1558) that provides greater retirement security through a modest expansion of the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS).
Through our lobbying efforts, Local 117 members were instrumental in helping to pass a measure (SB 6229) that carves out time for unions to provide orientation to new employees.
Some additional highlights include the passage of laws that ensure gender equity in the workplace (HB 1506), remove barriers to voting (SB 6002), and expand workers' comp insurance coverage for law enforcement (SB 1614) and for Hanford workers suffering from occupational disease (HB 1773).
Many of these bills had been languishing in Olympia for years. Thanks to your lobby visits, phone calls and emails, and a new worker-friendly majority in the legislature, we are seeing many policy changes that will strengthen our communities and make a difference in the lives of working families.
Thanks also to Brenda Wiest, our outstanding Director of Legislative Affairs, who spent countless hours in Olympia representing the rights of Local 117 members. We couldn't have done it without Brenda's expertise!
This month we honor our remarkable Teamster Sisters and all of the women friends, co-workers, and extended family members in our lives.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize the extraordinary economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe. Teamster women in particular have fought tirelessly on the front lines of our union's 115-year history for equality and justice.
Our predecessors marched in the suffragette movement for the right to vote; we organized on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement; and we have fought for decades for equal pay in the workplace. We can be proud of our accomplishments, which have advanced the rights of all workers and have shaped our collective history.
At Teamsters Local 117, Tracey A. Thompson became the first woman to serve as our union’s principal officer and the first woman on the Executive Board of Joint Council 28. Tracey brought fearlessness, fortitude and compassion to our union’s efforts to improve lives and lift up our communities. Both Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and I strive to honor and carry forth that legacy as we work to build power and unity for all members of Teamsters Local 117
On our union’s Flickr page you can view just a few of the many amazing women leaders across our Local Union who have joined in the advancement of equality and workplace rights.
Please join me as we celebrate our bold Teamster sisterhood. Thank you for your service to our communities and for your membership in Teamsters 117.
Teamster press operators at the Seattle Times celebrate after ratifying their contract.
Teamsters who operate the presses at the Seattle Times are celebrating their new contract. The group voted overwhelmingly to ratify the agreement last weekend.
Highlights of the pact include a meaningful bump in hourly wages and improvements to sick time and holiday pay.
“We’ve been trying to get double time and a half for holiday pay forever,” said Tyrone Love, a shop steward and pressman of 22 years. “This time we were able to get it for three of the major holidays – Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. Guys are really happy about that.”
Welcome to our new union rep, Amy Ford!
Amy has worked at the Washington State Penitentiary since 2012 where she started in Health Services as a patient and staff scheduler. Later she worked with a correctional program manager and volunteered facilitating offender change programs. Before that, she was a Financial Counselor at the Walla Walla Medical Clinic.
For the last two and a half years, Amy has been a shop steward. The drive behind her work is a passion for knowledge and workers’ rights. She never stops learning and is currently finishing her degree in IT Administration and Business Management.
Amy is a mom to four beautiful children and is active in her local church. How does she manage to keep up with it all? She cites reading as a de-stresser.
Amy is a wonderful addition to our team and will be representing Teamsters at the Washington State Penitentiary. We wish you best of luck!