Teamsters at King County - A new issue of your Local 117 newsletter is now available!
This issue has some tips about defending your rights and staying out of trouble at work. We've also got a brief update on COLA bargaining as well as info about a scholarship for your Teamster kids who are applying for college.
Check out your online newsletter here.
King County is scrambling to stave off the possibility of huge reductions in Metro bus service and the further erosion of our public transportation infrastructure.
If voters do not approve a funding measure on April 22, Metro stands to lose 74 bus routes, and over 100 routes would have to change. Residents would see more crowded buses, longer wait times, less reliable service, more traffic, and longer commutes.
The measure proposes a $60/annual car tab fee and a one-tenth-of-a-cent increase in the sales tax. King County gained the authority to take the measure to the voters when the Council unanimously approved the creation of a transportation district on Feb. 11.
VOTE YES FOR TRANSPORTATION ON APRIL 22: We’ve already seen a 44% decrease in transportation funding since 2008. Vote YES to save Metro, preserve the low-income fare program, and protect family-wage jobs!
King County will be mailing out ballots on April 2, so you should be receiving them in the mail by April 4 or 5.
Sometimes it feels like just getting up and going to work every day is an heroic act. Through our work, we serve our communities, pay the bills, and put food on the table for our families. That’s about as heroic as it gets, right?
Well, for one Teamster at King County, the daily grind presented an opportunity to do a little bit more. Randy Smith, a supervisor in the County’s Wastewater Treatment Division, and his SEIU 925 crew, helped assist in a rescue operation of a man who had fallen into a raw sewage tank in Discovery Park.
When a crew member heard the man screaming as he was making his rounds at the plant, Randy and his crew took immediate action to help save the man and called 911. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene, and the man was taken to the Harborview Medical Center.
So let’s hear it for the quick-acting Teamster who helped save a man’s life while doing his job. You can’t get much more heroic than that!
Workers at SeaTac's Extra Car Parking picketed the company today over retaliation and lost wages.
View photos from today's action here.
The workers, who were joined by community activists and members of Teamsters 117, were fired after they asked Extra Park to comply with SeaTac Proposition 1 and pay them $15/hr, paid sick days, and other benefits approved by SeaTac voters last year.
Wayne Armstrong was the first employee to be fired after filing the complaint. He and other employees are paid $10.32/hour despite the fact that Extra Car Parking has more than 100 parking spaces (it has 5 lots throughout SeaTac) and employs more than 25 non-managerial employees (estimated more than 40). Those are the two thresholds set by Prop 1 for businesses.
Competitor employers, like MasterPark, are complying with Prop 1 and have not laid off any employees.
If you are performing work outside the scope of your job classification, the county needs to compensate you for it. It’s a pretty simple equation, but the county doesn’t always get the simple things right.
If you are getting shortchanged, Local 117 will help you with your reclassification appeal. We’ll sit down with you, review the documents, and present your case at your appeal hearing.
We recently won a reclass case on behalf of Alisa Bui, a member in the county’s Finance, Business and Operations Division, who was performing the work of a senior accountant, but not being compensated as such. After the county denied her reclassification request, Alisa teamed up with her Business Representative, Matt House, and the two filed an appeal, presented the case before the county’s appeal board, and won a reversal of the decision.
The win means a lot to Alisa - a 10% increase in pay and a reminder to the County that the union won’t let it get away with underpaying its employees.
Given the onslaught of attacks on labor, unions are far too often forced into a corner, dodging punches left and right – trying to avoid hitting the mat while the corporate bullies slander the ring with their anti-union rhetoric and jam-packed pocketbooks. This forces unions into a reactionary position, trying to stave off the next blow.
One of the ways that Local 117 avoids getting trapped into this cycle of reactivity is by engaging in a comprehensive strategic planning process every three years.
By making a concerted effort to plan for the future, we are able to set the tone for what’s to come by identifying short and long-term goals and building strategies for achieving those goals. Some successes resulting from the previous plans have included, establishment of a local union strike fund, increased public sector organizing, insuring our financial stability, and expanding our visibility and public presence. In sum, by setting our priorities and finding strategies for achieving our goals, we have been able to take a proactive approach to planning for the future and continue to improve our ability to advocate for working families.
Taxicab operators, who are members of the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association (WWTCOA), filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Monday, alleging that Uber is in violation of city, county, and state laws and regulations that govern the Puget Sound area’s personal transportation industry.
“Uber is not playing by the rules like the rest of us are, and local, small business owners like myself and our families are suffering as a result,” said Parminder Cheema, a taxicab operator and elected member of the WWTCOA’s leadership council. “The community is at risk as well. If things don’t change, somebody might get hurt.”
According to the complaint, Uber is engaging in “an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”
Nothing says union power more than hundreds of Teamster Shop Stewards gathered together in one room chanting, "When we fight, we win!" That's exactly what we heard on Saturday, as the voices of 275 Local 117 Stewards echoed through the halls of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle at our annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day.
Check out photos from the event here. Thank you to Erik Olsen of Seattle Cold Storage for contributing photos of the seminar.
Secretary-Treasurer Tracey Thompson kicked off the event by providing Stewards with an outline of our union's strategic plan and vision for the future:
Following Tracey, Lori Pfingst, our keynote speaker, the Research Director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, delved into one of the defining issues of our time, income inequality, and how we all must band together to restore fairness and equilibrium for working people.
Our General Counsel and Associate General Counsel, Spencer Thal and Daniel Swedlow, were brilliantly entertaining during a 'stump the attorneys' session at lunch, and the two break-out sessions on 'Right to Work' and 'Putting the Team Back in Teamsters' provided an opportunity to exchange best practices and prepare for legislative fights looming on the horizon.
Thank you to the tremendous work that our Shop Stewards perform every day. You are the eyes and ears, the indispensable rank-and-file leaders who make Local 117 a great union that cares for and is committed to defending and expanding the rights of all working people. We are grateful for your service.
For those who attended the seminar, it would be great to hear your reaction below. What did you like? What would you like to see more of next year? What can you take with you to your fellow members back in your shops?
No one is more deserving of recognition than MCC's very own Carl Beatty. Carl earned the distinction of DOC Shop Steward of the Year at the DOC seminar in Seattle on Friday before a room of his peers.
Secretary-Treasurer Thompson presented Beatty with a plaque and a gift card for his outstanding work as a member of Local 117 and his commitment to improving the lives of workers, not only at the DOC but across our union.
As Tracey said, Carl is a "unionist to the core." He has been incredibly active in Olympia, where, on a number of occasions, he has lobbied, testified, and marched around the state capitol, calling on legislators to recognize the brave work performed every day by the men and women of the DOC.
Carl also participates in our union's Steward Advisory Council. As a member of SAC, he provides input on policy and suggests programs to benefit the membership
Our union is stronger thanks to Carl and we are lucky to have him. Congratulations, Carl, and thank you for your service!
DOC Shop Stewards from across the state met in Seattle on Friday for their annual seminar and to prepare for upcoming contract negotiations. The day kicked off with the group reviewing the results of contract surveys that a record number of members had filled out.
The surveys identified several priorities that your Union's bargaining committee will use to develop proposals. One of the most important priorities, of course, is compensation. In the state's last salary survey, published in 2009, the state identified many DOC job classifications that are paid up to 25% or more below the market average.
The Stewards also spent a great deal of time discussing our newly-won interest arbitration rights with Local 117's General Counsel Spencer Thal and Associate General Counsel Daniel Swedlow.
When Teamsters Local 117 decided to hire Nancy Santos as a new Business Rep, I knew they had made an outstanding choice. I was hired at the Fred Meyer warehouse in 1999, and one of the first things I noticed was a big sign, proclaiming Nancy as the most productive worker for the week. As I would learn, this was not an unusual occurrence; her work ethic week in and week out was something to behold. This was a worker at the top of the productivity list who did NOT kiss up to management. In fact, she didn’t take nonsense from anybody, and would not only stand up for herself, but others as well.
Nancy started at Fred Meyer when she was 16 year old, working at the Burien store for five years. She had originally requested a transfer into her store’s Grocery Department, and had to stand by and watch as other male associates, with less seniority, were granted transfers ahead of her. Denied the opportunity to advance at the store, she transferred to the warehouse in 1995, partly because she knew it was a Teamster warehouse. One of the supervisors told her that they were reluctant to even approve the transfer, because they didn’t think that a woman could do the job. Nancy proved them very very wrong.
Both of Nancy’s parents were union, and her dad always told her, “Never take a job that isn’t union”. Nancy always knew that being union meant something. “As a kid, I always had the impression that you don’t mess with the Teamster," she said. "Nowadays it’s commonplace for corporations and politicians to mess with the Teamsters, and all of the working class. People have died fighting for the rights and working conditions that too many people today take for granted.”
Negotiations are set to begin this summer with the four major grocery houses: Safeway, Fred Meyer, Unified Grocers, and SuperValu.
Grocery warehouse and distribution is one of our Local's core industries, so it is essential that we all rally together to support our Brothers and Sisters during the coming contract campaign.
"We need to show a willingness not to back down, and we need to make sure that members at all four distribution centers stick together." - Roger Fields, 31-year member at Supervalu
The reps have been out in the shops, conducting votes for new Shop Stewards, and scheduling demands meetings.
In the next few weeks, we will be issuing a newsletter for members in the industry, Dock Talk.
Brothers and Sisters:
Over the last several months, we have seen some exciting developments for Teamsters at the DOC:
- Funding was secured in the State’s supplemental budget to open the new medium unit at the Washington State Penitentiary;
- The State Auditor’s office announced that it would be conducting a full-scale performance audit of the DOC that will examine staffing levels and other issues;
- Rep. Mike Sells urged the Attorney General’s office to provide an opinion regarding supplemental pension that could positively impact DOC members’ retirement security;
- Teamsters 117 members testified in numerous hearings in Olympia in support of bills that impact DOC families;
- DOC Shop Stewards achieved record returns on contract surveys for upcoming negotiations.
Drivers across Seattle’s personal transportation industry rallied at City Hall on Monday to demand regulatory changes that ensure safe and secure service to the public and dignified working conditions that allow drivers to earn a living wage.
Dozens of taxi drivers, for-hire drivers, and drivers from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) attended the event.
“All drivers – whether they drive a taxi, a for-hire vehicle, or an Uber towncar – deserve fair treatment and a living wage so that they can provide for their families,” said Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica Votes, one of the sponsors of the event. “The best way to achieve fairness is through safe, sensible regulation that puts workers and the traveling public first.”
Members of Teamsters 117 joined hundreds of community members on Saturday to march for an increase of the minimum wage in the city of Seattle to $15/hr.
Special thanks to Erik Olsen, a Local 117 member at Seattle Cold Storage, for contributing many of the photos from the march.