Sisters and brothers,
As we face the challenges of 2018 and with the impending Supreme Court ruling on the Janus case that could turn public sector unions across the country into open shop, let us remember that labor history has never been a cakewalk. We inherited our worker protections and union wages from our predecessors who were tough as nails. They fought and won grueling fights for the rights we now enjoy.
At work, we don’t give a second thought to the fire alarm on the wall, yet it wasn’t placed there by employer’s good will. In 1910, The Industrial Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union organized strikes involving over 20,000 workers against sweatshops in New York, yet companies like Triangle Shirtwaist Factory banned their workers from unionizing.
The next year, disaster struck. In an attempt to prevent theft, garment workers – almost all women of Italian and Jewish origins, were locked by their employer on the top floors of a New York building when a fire broke out. Flames quickly caught the textile scraps and set the building ablaze. The employers had trapped these working women to burn alive in a building not equipped with any fire safety. People in the streets watched their neighbors catch fire and jump to their death from the tenth floor. It took this horrific tragedy, public outcry, and pressure from the unions to implement safety rules in the workplace.
During the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, sixty-two people jumped or fell from windows, not one of them survived. Image source Wikimedia Commons.
The winter issue of the Guardian, our newsletter for Teamsters who work at the Department of Corrections, is now available!
In this issue, you'll find information on how to register for our upcoming Legislative Reception and Lobby Day on February 12-13, 2018 and an article on how members are starting to prepare for open shop, which is likely coming to DOC next year.
You can access a PDF of the Guardian online here. A number of member leaders will be distributing print copies over the next few weeks.
Starting in January, we will be conducting contract ratification meetings for all Teamsters who work at King County.
At the meetings, you will have an opportunity to vote on the Master Labor Agreement (MLA), which is unanimously recommended by all members of the King County Coalition of Unions, and on your individual bargaining unit's appendix or "small table" agreement.
To prepare for the vote, you can review the MLA and your individual unit's agreement here.
To vote, you must attend one of the drop-in ratification meetings below. If you have any questions, please contract your union representative or shop steward. For a print posting of the schedule, click here.
A year ago, a fire broke out at the Woodland Park Zoo and threatened hundreds of animals.
Thanks to the heroic work of Seattle-area firefighters, nearly all of the animals were saved. On behalf of all members of Teamsters 117, shop steward Peter Miller sends his gratitude to the firefighters for their heroic work in saving the animals.
Thank you firefighters and happy holidays!
Miguel Fuentes in front of Darigold facility in Issaquah.
At Darigold, Rob Garberding works at the butter cooler wrapping pellets and loading them into trucks. “I like driving my forklift. It’s not an easy job, but I like making it easy for everyone else,” he says.
For over seven years, Rob has worked with Ernest Batchelor and Miguel Fuentes, both Teamsters of 20 plus years. A few months ago, Ernest and Rob were challenging each other to weight loss. Rob, it seemed, has been doing so well that he’d lost 30 pounds, but Miguel suspected that something was wrong. “He couldn’t swallow food, and it was obvious that he had lost too much weight,” remembers Miguel.
"That’s what being a Teamster is -- when someone needs help, you help them."
Teamster union rep Takele Gobena (l) together with Local 117 members who work at ABM Parking.
Congrats to Local 117 members at ABM Parking who voted unanimously to ratify a new 3-year contract last week.
The group, which provides valet and cashier services at the Virginia Mason Medical Center, will see wage increases, improved vacation leave, along with a number of other improvements.
"This was my first time negotiating with the company," said Abiy Derseh, a shop steward and 9-year employee. "I learned a lot about the union - it was a good experience for me. And we got a good deal - we improved a lot from the last contract."
Despite the gains, Derseh expressed some concerns about possible layoffs as a result of increased automation in the garage. "We're not sure if they are going to try to surprise us and say, 'Next week you guys aren't here anymore.' We don't want that because we need to prepare for it. They have to negotiate a time frame for us."
Derseh took his concerns to union rep Takele Gobena, who helped the group negotiate a severance package, seniority rights, and relocation opportunities in the event of layoffs. The ability to mitigate the impact of layoffs is another advantage to being part of a union.
Whatever happens next year, the group is excited about the improvements they've made in their new contract. "Everyone is happy," Deresh said.
Teamsters at the Spokesman Review unanimously ratify contract, show the power of unity in an open shop
Teamster 117 members who operate the presses at the Spokesman Review.
There are certain fundamentals to a union contract. In a worker-friendly state like Washington, union security is high on the list. Union security insures that all employees in the bargaining unit pay their fair share for representation under the contract.
In right-to-work states, workers lose their freedom to negotiate union security, which can severely weaken the union.
But that doesn't have to be the case. A recent contract win at the Spokesman Review demonstrates that union members can achieve significant contractual gains even without union security, so long as they stick together.
Last month, Teamsters who run the press room at the paper voted unanimously to ratify a contract that contains the largest wage increases in years along with important language improvements.
The group will see protections against subcontracting, stronger seniority rights, better language around discipline, sick leave and hours of work, and a whole host of other improvements. They did it because they rallied together to support their union.
"Everybody that's in our shop was a part of the union," said Ken Coburn, a shop steward with 30 years at the paper. "I think the company was concerned that we might strike. And it could have happened - we could have shut them down."
"The company knew that we had huge involvement in the union."
In years past that wasn't the case. Even leading up to negotiations, several members were behind on their dues. Union rep, Matt House, met with the group and told them that their unity was key to winning a strong contract.
"Matt was awesome," said Jeff Weidert, a pressman with 40 years in the industry. "He's focused - laser-beamed. And he knows when to call B.S." Weidert and Coburn worked together to get their co-workers caught up on their dues, which sent a powerful message to the company.
"The company knew that we had huge involvement in the union," Weidert said. "With the power we had, we were able to take the teeth out of some of their proposals and we were able to negotiate some safeguards. I can't tell you how happy we are."
With open shop likely coming to the public sector next year, the lessons at the Spokesman Review are telling: When workers stand together in their union, they can thrive and win strong contracts, even in a right-to-work environment.
REGISTRATION FOR OUR 2018 LOBBY DAY AND LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION ON FEBRUARY 12-13 IN OLYMPIA IS NOW FULL. OVER 200 TEAMSTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES WILL BE ATTENDING!
Some of the critical issues facing Teamsters that we will be discussing with legislators include:
- The need for a comprehensive statewide staffing audit.
- Improving staff safety at all DOC facilities.
- Recognizing the critical community services we provide.
You can view a complete list of our legislative priorities here.
You are invited to a dinner and reception with legislators starting at 7:30pm at the RL Hotel in Olympia on February 12. Accommodations will be provided for all members on the night of February 12, 2018. You must register by Monday, January 15 to be guaranteed a room at the Hotel RL. You may still register after that date, but we cannot guarantee we will have the available rooms.
On the morning of February 13, we will have a lobby training and breakfast before heading over to the Capitol for our appointments with legislators.
It's important that we have an excellent showing at this event as we talk with legislators about the critical services we provide.
Congratulations to the newest members of Teamsters Local 117! A group of Kennel Aides who work at the Tacoma Humane Society have voted unanimously to join our union.
The group got together last night to celebrate winning a voice at work.
Sisters and Brothers -
On behalf of our union’s executive board, Michelle and I want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.
This is a time of year to express togetherness and gratitude. As Teamsters, we have a lot to be thankful for. By standing together with our co-workers, we have a level of protection and job security not available to our non-union counterparts.
But our ability to negotiate is only one way our union helps improve lives. This November, members of Teamsters 117 donated dozens of pints of blood at our annual blood drive. Teamsters across our union are also donating toys for families in need this holiday season. These efforts help save lives, bring joy to families that are struggling, and lift up our communities.
We would like to express our utmost gratitude to the many Teamsters who will be at work, away from their families over the holidays. A special thanks go out to our members working in the corrections and law enforcement professions who make tremendous sacrifices this time of year as they serve and protect our communities and keep all of us safe.
As a reminder, our Holiday Membership Meeting and raffle celebration will be held on Thursday, December 21 starting at 7PM at the union hall in Tukwila. I hope you are able to join us for this special event. Thank you again for your outstanding service to our communities and for your membership in Teamsters 117.
President and Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement
When workers have the freedom to stand together with their co-workers to negotiate, it makes a difference.
That difference is reflected in higher pay, better better benefits, a safer workplace, and a voice on the job.
On average, workers who are part of a union earn over $200 per week more than their non-union counterparts. They are much more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and a defined benefit retirement plan.
But real freedom is about more that making a living. It's also about having the time to take your kids to the doctor, attend a parent-teacher conference, and retire in dignity.
We can't let wealthy special interests and corporate CEOs chip away at the freedoms people in unions have won for all of us.
We must protect our freedom to join together in strong unions so that we have the power in numbers to rewrite the rules for our families. Standing together, we can fight for our freedom to prosper.
It is that time of year for our annual Blood Drive event!
Our Teamsters Local 117 Blood Drive will be held on Saturday, November 18 at the Union hall in Tukwila from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All donors will receive a $25 Safeway gift card.
If you don’t live in the area, you can still participate! Any donations made between November 8 and November 22 will be rewarded with a $25 Safeway gift card as well (just mail in the proof of donation to the Union Hall).
Come give the gift of life!
After the election polls closed Tuesday night, we witnessed some great news for Teamsters families. In the critical 45th district race, Manka Dhingra beat Jinyoung Lee Englund, which should create a much more worker-friendly majority in the Washington State Legislature.
This holiday season our union is holding a Toy Drive to give back to children in need. To successfully pull this off, we need your help!
The toys will be donated to Local 117 families who are struggling this year. All remaining toys will go to Treehouse for Kids, a local non-profit that works with foster children.
Can you commit some time to collect toys in your shop?
If you can help, please email Taylor House at Taylor.House@Teamsters117.org with your name, email, current phone number, and day you will be able to come pick up your donation box.
You can pick up your box and flyers promoting the Toy Drive at the union hall between Wednesday, Nov. 15 and Friday, Nov. 17. From there, you place the boxes in your designated break areas so your co-workers can donate. The boxes will need to be returned to the hall by Friday, December 15.
This deadline ensures we can get the gifts to Local 117 families and deliver excess toys to Treehouse for Kids in time for disbursement. For last minute donations, we will also be collecting toys during our Thursday, December 21 Holiday Membership Meeting.
Thank you for all of your hard work on the shop floor. Let's work together to help our communities this holiday season!
We are currently recruiting for a Union Representative position for the Department of Corrections.
The successful applicant for this position will be assigned to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.
Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to, visiting worksites, building relationships with members, internal organizing, grievance handling and investigation, assistance in contract negotiations, Labor-Management meetings, steward training and supervision, conducting regional meetings in their assigned areas, and working as part of a team with other Local 117 Union Representatives.
If this interests you, please review the full job description that includes instructions on how to submit your cover letter and resume. The deadline to apply is close of business on November 20, 2017.
President and Director of Corrections & Law Enforcement