Teamster funeral directors with union rep John Howell, Jr. (l) gather together at Mt. View Cemetery in Lakewood.
Cemetery and funeral work is not for the faint of heart. It takes someone with incredible compassion and the ability to routinely perform end-of-life rituals that most of us would prefer not to think about.
Teamsters who work at Mt. View Cemetery in Lakewood provide comfort to families at the most vulnerable point in their lives. They preside over cremations, embalm and prepare the deceased for viewing, and ready the gravesite for burial.
Christine Walker, a Teamster of three years, operates the cremation furnace at Mt. View. The most wrenching part of her job, she says, is when families request to witness the cremation of their loved ones. “Being here with the family is always hardest, especially when there are children involved.”
Christine Walker, a three-year Teamster, operates the cremation furnace at Mt. View.
The work has immeasurable value and requires considerable training and skill, yet their employer has been slow to recognize its significance.
For nearly a year, Local 117 members at Mt. View fought for fair pay, affordable health care, and protections that are standard in other union agreements. Just last week the group of funeral directors and cemetery workers had something to celebrate: The unanimous ratification of their new contracts.
Through the long contract fight, members showed fortitude and determination. They voted to authorize a strike in October and struck down a substandard contract offer during mediation. Both votes were unanimous.
“The unity the group showed was key,” said Local 117 Vice President and lead negotiator Marcus Williams. “It provided our negotiations team with real leverage at the bargaining table.”
"How much care goes into this place sometimes gets overlooked." - Jeremiah Sandstrom, Local 117 cemetery worker.
Eventually, NorthStar, the massive funeral services conglomerate that owns Mt. View, got the message. Members won higher wage increases than they’d seen in years and fought back takeaways to their health care coverage. They also achieved full retro pay to the contract expiration date, something they had not accomplished in the past.
“Our members at Mt. View comfort families during a time of incredible stress and uncertainty,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. “This contract goes a step further toward recognizing the invaluable services they provide our community.”
Congress has finally acknowledged what Teamsters have been saying for years…there is a pension crisis in this country and Congress must resolve it to protect workers and our economy.
While the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust (WCTPT), which provides retirement benefits to many members of Teamsters 117, is on strong financial footing, other pension plans around the country are in need of immediate relief.
That was the message delivered this October by representatives and trustees of the WCTPT at a training for union officers, union staff, and rank-and-file Teamster leaders from across the West.
Thanks to the activism of Teamsters in the room and across the country, Congress has recently set up a Joint Select Committee to work towards a solution to ensure the solvency of multi-employer pension plans.
We urge the Committee and all of our Representatives and Senators in Congress to reject the GROW Act, which would permit draconian cuts to workers’ benefits and subject retirees to devastating cuts to their pensions.
For pension reform that protects workers, our union is supporting the Butch Lewis Act (H.R. 4444/ S. 2147). Butch Lewis provides a path to financial health for troubled pension plans, alleviates pressure on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and ensures that current and future retirees receive all of the benefits that they've earned.
Take Action to Protect Worker Pensions Now! Reach out to your Senators and Representatives in Congress and urge them to support the Butch Lewis Act. The more bi-partisan support the legislation garners, the more likely it is to be adopted by the Committee.
Richard Coleman (center) fighting for interest arbitration at the Local 117 Day of Action event in Olympia in 2012.
Richard Coleman has his sights set on travel. The longtime Walla Walla resident has imagined destinations closer to home, and others further afield: from the Oregon Coast to the beaches of Belize, from the Civil War battlefields of Virginia to the Baltic states in Eastern Europe.
After 36 years of public service, trips once unfathomable are about to become a reality.
With retirement just a hair's breadth away, he credits his union for allowing him to bow out earlier than he’d imagined. Thanks to hard-fought wage increases over the last three contract cycles achieved through interest arbitration, he’s seen his social security and state pension benefits swell.
“Interest arbitration has been phenomenal in helping to raise our pay,” he said. “Without this level of income, I’d have to be working a couple years more. Now I have a good, solid retirement base.”
"Now I have a good, solid retirement base."
For Coleman, retirement from the Department of Corrections comes this February, the 28th of the month to be precise - not that anyone’s counting.
The results are in! Teamsters stepped up and donated dozens of pints of blood for our Local 117 Blood Drive on November 17. In all, 63 donors registered and our partners at Cascade Regional Blood Services were able to draw 48 pints of blood.
Thank you to all the Teamsters, both current members and retirees, who attended the event.
Donating blood ensures that there are ample reserves when disasters strike. Cancer survivors, burn victims, surgery patients, sick kids – they all benefit from donated blood.
Members of Teamsters 117 have been donating blood for over 25 years at our annual Blood Drive.
Our Union will be holding contract vote meetings at locations across King County for members of Teamsters Local 117 starting on December 3 and running through December 19, 2018.
At the meetings, you will have an opportunity to vote on a labor agreement ("total comp" agreement) that covers your compensation and benefits for 2019-2020. Our Coalition of Unions recommends that you vote “yes” to approve the proposal.
Some bargaining units will also be voting on individual unit appendix agreements in addition to the total comp agreement.
You can access a schedule for all of the voting dates, times, and locations here.
To prepare for the vote, please review the Total Comp documents and your bargaining unit's appendix agreement below. Thank you for service to the residents of King County. Please exercise your right to vote!
Total Comp Agreement
DOT Design and Construction Supervisors
IT Managers and Supervisors
Joint Units Agreement
Printers and Copiers
PT&A Safety Health and Professional Certified
In December, 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 an agreement that covers your compensation, health care, and compensable benefits for 2019-2020. The agreement was negotiated between the County and our King County Coalition of Unions.
This “total comp” proposal includes a 4% general wage increase for 2019 and a total of 3% general wage increase for 2020 plus a $500 bonus offered to Coalition Union members only. Our Union Coalition recommends that you vote "yes" to approve the proposal.
Some bargaining units will also be voting on individual unit appendix agreements in addition to the total comp agreement.
To prepare for the vote, please review voting documents available 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.
Members of Teamsters 117 on our King County Coalition of Unions negotiations team.
You may recall that our Coalition of Unions reached a tentative agreement back in August over compensation for King County Teamsters for the coming two years.
This “total comp” proposal includes a 4% general wage increase for 2019 and a total of 3% general wage increase for 2020 plus a $500 bonus offered to Coalition Union members only.
Our Union Coalition fully recommends that you vote to approve the proposal.
Unfortunately, our ability as Coalition members to vote on the agreement continues to be delayed. The delay comes as a result of the County failing to agree to acceptable terms on critical issues facing a few of our labor partners in our Coalition.
Those partners have been mired in challenging negotiations with the County for several months and have yet to reach resolution over their appendix agreements to the total comp proposal.
Solidarity is essential and our strength as a Coalition and our commitment to each other comes by standing together with our Sisters and Brothers in their efforts to successfully complete their unit-specific negotiations.
We are urging the County to resolve any outstanding issues with our partners immediately so that we can move forward with the vote. If delays continue, we should all be prepared to engage in solidarity actions to support our Coalition partners and pressure the County to negotiate a fair contract for all.
We will continue to keep you updated as the situation develops.
For over 20 years, members of Teamsters Local 117 have been donating blood as a part of our annual blood drive. By giving blood, we've helped save lives!
This year the Blood Drive will be held on Saturday, November 17 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!
We wanted to share a letter issued by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to members of Teamsters Local 117 at the Port of Seattle Police Department.
The letter comes as a result of a comment the Mayor made at a recent Seattle Police Officers' Guild meeting that denigrated the work of other law enforcement agencies, including the Port of Seattle.
As soon as we became aware of the Mayor's remarks, our union's Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy reached out to the mayor's office and insisted on an apology.
In her letter, Mayor Durkan states that she "never meant to impugn the hard work of the Port of Seattle Police Department or any other neighboring jurisdictions that keep our region safe..."
You can read the Mayor's letter in its entirety here.
With the holidays approaching, our ports of entry nationwide become packed with travelers and potentially more dangerous. Thank you to our members at the Port of Seattle for your sacrifice during this busy season as you serve and protect our communities and work so hard to keep all of us safe.
Got Teamsters medical? You can save on your 2019 medical expenses by taking a confidential Health Assessment if you are covered under the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust.
Both you and your eligible spouse or covered domestic partner must take the Health Assessment between November 1 and December 15, 2018 to qualify for the reduction.
For members covered under plans A, B, C, and Z, your annual deductible in 2019 will be $200 less for individual coverage and up to $600 less for family coverage than if you do not take the assessment.
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 don't have internet access, call Vivacity at 855-784-4562 to request a paper version.
If you have questions, please talk to your union representative.
In honor of Veterans Day, we remember the service and the sacrifice of our brave Teamster Sisters and Brothers and all others who have served our country in the United States Armed Forces. We salute you & are forever grateful!
Thank you to the Teamsters at the Seattle School District who serve our teachers and our schools by assembling science kits for kids. Our members there are union proud & union strong!
Check out this video of them at work:
As stated in a recent memo sent from the Department of Corrections to members of Teamsters 117, a new interpretation of the law that arose as a result of a WSP and FBI audit invalidates our Peace Officer Identification Cards effective immediately.
As a result, correctional employees who formerly met the requirements under the law are no longer able to carry concealed weapons without a concealed weapons license.
This represents a blow to your right as a DOC employee to protect yourself in public, a right that our Teamsters union worked hard to achieve through a change in statute back in 2011.
Our Legislative Director, Brenda Wiest, is currently reviewing the statue in an effort to identify a legislative fix that will restore your right to carry a concealed weapon without the licensing requirement. Assuming a solution is viable, we will include this priority to our 2019 legislative agenda along with the other priorities we have identified: funding our 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement and achieving statutory interest arbitration rights for DOC.
As always, your participation at our Lobby Day on February 26-27, 2019 and your engagement in Olympia this legislative session will be critical to achieving these priorities. We will keep you posted as soon as we have more information.
Welcome, Fallon Schumsky, our union’s new attorney and former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) field attorney, to our Teamsters staff!
Fallon is a Northwest native and graduate of the UW School of Law, but spent the first part of her career in Philadelphia, where she investigated unfair labor practices, prosecuted violations of the National Labor Relations Act, and ran NLRB elections. “I loved my work at the Board,” she says. “It’s where I learned the importance of collective bargaining and of union members having a voice.”
"I learned the importance of collective bargaining and of union members having a voice."
Balancing a busy legal career with her passion for community activism, Fallon managed to carve out time to serve on the board of directors of a Philadelphia non-profit that provides legal services to low-income immigrant families. She also rallied her friends and co-workers to join her on a team that bicycled from Philly to Atlantic City to raise money to fight cancer.
Raised in the farmlands of the Cascade foothills, Fallon grew up showing horses at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw. An avid hiker and nature enthusiast, she loved Philly for its grit and diversity but missed the beauty of the Pacific Northwest during her stint on the East Coast.
She also yearned to become more of an advocate for workers than her job at the NLRB would allow. “When I met John and Tracey, I could see their passion for their members. I wanted to be directly involved in that.”
As our union’s new staff attorney, Fallon will work with General Counsel, Tracey Thompson, on handling arbitrations and unfair labor practice litigation and on providing legal guidance on behalf of the Local 117 membership.
We are thrilled to welcome Fallon to our team and wish her all the best!
Teamsters who work at the City of Tacoma showed up in force at City Hall last night to stand for fair pay, equity, and respect.
Members testified to the fact that the City’s revenues are healthy & Teamsters are doing high quality work that serves the community and supports local families.
City of Tacoma, let's honor our public servants!