We're pleased to announce the hiring of Eamon McCleery, an experienced labor attorney who joined our union staff effective July 1.
Eamon will be our Teamsters 117 staff attorney dedicated to handling negotiations, arbitrations, and unfair labor practice litigation on behalf of members working in corrections and law enforcement.
A native of the Pacific Northwest and a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, Eamon previously worked as an attorney at a labor law firm specializing in representing law enforcement and corrections employees in the State of Washington.
It's important to understand that the outstanding unity and low opt-out rate among law enforcement and corrections members have allowed us to secure Eamon as an additional resource.
When members stand together and commit to each other like we have seen at Teamsters 117, we can improve wages, safety, and benefits and protect our workplace rights through professional, quality representation.
If you are in need of legal support due to an issue in the workplace, please contact your union representative who will initiate a legal review process with Eamon.
Yesterday we received the finalized version of our 2019-2021 DOC collective bargaining agreement from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM), and the document is now available for you online. Our union's Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and the Governor signed our contract in a ceremony in Olympia on June 17.
You can view a link to the complete contract with all of the negotiated changes below:
Your union contract contains a number of language improvements and a minimum of an 8% general wage increase for all Teamsters at the DOC over the next two years.
Members received a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and will receive another 4% increase effective July 1, 2020. In addition, a number of classifications will receive targeted range increases.
Please take some time to familiarize yourself with your union contract. It contains essential seniority rights, bidding rights, safety provisions, vacation and holiday pay, the right to just cause in a disciplinary investigation, and many other workplace protections that are unavailable to non-union employees.
Thank you to our outstanding union negotiations team for their work on our contract and for speaking out for fair wages, safety, and respect for all DOC corrections employees.
Our Teamsters DOC retirement committee met last week in Olympia to look at policy options.
A group of members who attended the DOC contract signing in Olympia last week spent a few minutes celebrating on the steps of the State Capitol then got straight to work.
Their goal? To evaluate retirement benefits and make policy recommendations for Teamsters at the Washington State Department of Corrections.
It's a challenging job given the convoluted nature of pension politics and the potential impact pension reform could have on the State budget, but all were in agreement: The work needs to get done.
"Retirement is something at DOC that needs to be looked at," said Jeannette Young, a classification counselor at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. "We work one-on-one with inmates and it's a highly stressful environment."
"We are committed to working to tackle this difficult issue."
The current DOC retirement system has many corrections staff working longer than they should, which can compromise staff safety inside the prisons.
"Many people are forced to stay on too long because they need to maintain their medical benefits," said Shawn Piliponis of the Larch Corrections Center. "This can affect response times and the ability to assist in disturbances."
After a round of introductions, the 21-member DOC Retirement Committee focused on brainstorming improvements they'd like to see. Ideas included improving post-retirement healthcare benefits, reducing the penalty for early retirement, and making PSERS available to everyone, among others.
Now the hard part begins. The next step requires researching what is fiscally and politically feasible and what would have the greatest impact on the membership as a whole. It also requires educating members and engaging them around the issue. Clearly, people are concerned about their retirement and would like to see improvements. The trick is getting folks involved.
The committee agreed to meet on an ongoing basis to develop short and long-term goals. Once viable options are on the table, the group also plans to survey the membership to see what ideas we can coalesce around.
"Corrections work is inherently stressful and dangerous," said Michelle Woodrow, our union's President and Executive Director, who is helping to lead the committee. "We are committed to working to tackle this difficult issue so that all of our members at the DOC can retire with dignity."
To learn more about your current retirement benefits, please visit the Department of Retirement Systems. You can learn about health care options in retirement here. If you are interested in participating on our Teamsters Retirement Committee, contact Political Director Dustin Lambro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Jay Inslee signs our DOC 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement.
Our 2019-2021 DOC collective bargaining agreement was signed on Monday by the Governor and our union's Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy in a short ceremony in Olympia.
This marks the end of many hours of hard work from our union negotiations committee followed by an interest arbitration hearing and an intense effort to persuade legislators to fund the contract.
The contract contains a number of language improvements and a minimum of an 8% general wage increase for all Teamsters at the DOC over the next two years.
Members will receive a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and a 4% increase effective July 1, 2020. In addition, a number of classifications will receive targeted range increases.
I encourage you to familiarize yourself with your union contract. It provides important information about your rights, protections, guaranteed wages, and working conditions.
Thank you again to the incredible work of our union negotiations team and to all of our members who spoke out for fair wages, safety, and respect. You made this victory possible.
Members celebrate contract victory after Governor signs the agreement.
Meghan Fewins (c), Brea Jermsted (r) together with Union Rep Taylor House (l) at National Police Week in Washington D.C.
Over the last several years, our Union's Executive Board has sent rank-and-file members to National Police Week in Washington D.C. For the event, thousands of law enforcement professionals gather to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
In previous years, members from the ranks at the Port of Seattle, the City of Pacific, and the University of Washington have attended.
This year, Police Dispatcher Meghan Fewins and Communications Officer Brea Jermsted, both of South Sound 911, made the trip. Fewins and Jermsted were involved in dispatching emergency calls when Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney was killed in the line of duty last year.
Fewins and Jermsted took some time after their trip to share their reflections, experience, and gratitude. In a text message sent to her Union Rep, Taylor House, Jermsted wrote:
Fewins chronicled her experiences via email:
Fewins: "We watched Dan’s wife and kids place a flower in the wreath."
Congress is considering new legislation that will give Public Safety Telecommunicators the recognition they deserve.
The 911 Saves Act (HB 1629) will reclassify workers in the profession from "Office and Administrative Support Occupations" to "Protective Service Occupations". This will ensure that these workers will receive the benefits, funding, and respect that a first-responder classification entitles.
Our Teamsters Union is working hard to give the bill the greatest chance of success.
Our Local 117 Political Department staff will be meeting with our state's congressional delegation in Washington D.C. in June to ask them to sign on as sponsors to the bill.
Our International Union's General President, James Hoffa, has sent a powerful letter to all members of the House of Representatives urging them to support the legislation.
When the time is right, we will be calling on you to reach out to members of Congress to ask them to support the 911 Saves Act.
Public Safety Telecommunicators play a vital role in coordinating life-saving emergency care. Without these highly-skilled workers, firefighters, law enforcement, and EMTs would not be able to do their jobs.
We thank our members working in this profession for the tremendous emergency services they provide our community. Please recognize their vital work by supporting the 911 Saves Act.
The summer issue of our DOC Guardian newsletter is hot off the press!
In this issue, you'll find a recap of the 2019 legislative session in Olympia, which featured a number of critical wins for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.
The highlights include passage of a DOC interest arbitration bill, the full funding of our DOC contract, and the restoration of our right to carry a concealed weapon off duty without having to purchase a permit.
You can access a PDF of the newsletter here; print copies will be distributed by member leaders at your facilities in the coming weeks.
Get ready to grab a hot dog with your Teamster Brothers & Sisters! Our DOC summer BBQs get underway starting this June at facilities across the state.
We'll be celebrating a banner legislative session in Olympia where we were able to win statutory interest arbitration rights for DOC among several other victories.
View the days, times, and facilities for our union BBQs below. To RSVP, click on your facility below.
|AHCC||Friday||June 28||0600, 0800, 1100, 1400|
|CBCC||Tuesday||July 9||1100-1430, 2100-2200|
|CCCC||Thursday||August 15||1100, 1300, 1430, 2100|
|CI HQ||Tuesday||July 23||0700, 1400|
|CRCC||Wednesday||June 26||0600, 0800, 1100, 1400|
|DOC HQ||Friday||July 26||1100-1300|
|LCC||Thursday||August 29||1100, 1300, 1430, 2100|
|Maple Lane Pharmacy||Thursday||July 25||1100-1300|
|MCC||Thursday||August 1||0620, 1100, 1300, 1420, 1600|
|MCCCW||Tuesday||July 16||1100-1430, 2100-2200|
|OCC||Wednesday||July 24||1100-1430, 2100-2200|
|SCCC||Monday||August 26||1130, 1300, 1410, 2100|
|WCC||Wednesday||August 21||1100, 1300, 1430, 2100|
|WCCW||Thursday||July 18||1100-1530, 2100-2200|
|WSP||Monday||June 10||0630, 0800, 1100, 1300, 1430, 1630|
More good news from Olympia! The Washington State Legislature has fully funded our DOC collective bargaining agreement for the 2019-2021 biennium.
This means that the wage increases achieved in our DOC members' contract through our interest arbitration award are now guaranteed.
Under the award, all Teamster correctional employees will now receive no less than an 8% general wage increase over the next two years.
The award calls for a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and a 4% increase effective July 1, 2020 for all classifications. In addition, a number of classifications will receive targeted range increases.
Teamsters 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, and Governor Inslee are expected to sign our contract in the middle of June. The contract will take effect on July 1, 2019.
Thank you to the members on our union's negotiations committee who put in many long hours to achieve a strong contract on behalf of all Teamsters at the DOC. Thank you also to so many of you who spoke directly with legislators about the critical nature of corrections work.
Congratulations on this accomplishment.
Governor Inslee signs a bill granting interest arbitration rights to Teamsters who work at the WA State Department of Corrections.
It’s a victory a decade in the making.
For ten years, Teamsters across Washington State made phone calls, wrote emails, and met face-to-face with legislators. We rallied on the steps of the state house, spoke out in the press, and marched around the Capitol grounds in Olympia.
Now, after years of perseverance, we have achieved an historic win.
On April 30, Governor Inslee signed a bill that immeasurably expands the rights of 6,000 Teamsters at the Department of Corrections (DOC).
The new law grants our union access to interest arbitration, a right essential to public safety professionals and one that has been denied our members for decades. Making the victory even sweeter, Inslee signed a similar bill on the same day that benefits Teamster officers at the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD).
“Our corrections and law enforcement members put their lives on the line to protect the public,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117, who made passage of the bills a top priority. “Interest arbitration ensures our members are treated with respect.”
"Interest arbitration ensures our members are treated with respect."
Interest arbitration is a complete game-changer when it comes to the power our union can leverage at the bargaining table. Without interest arbitration, we had little recourse when negotiating over issues like wages and working conditions. Not surprisingly, the State exploited its advantage by engaging in frustrating cycles of take-it-or-leave-it bargaining.
These new laws allow our union to push mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral arbitrator if we reach impasse in negotiations.
The ramifications are huge. Over the last three contract cycles, our DOC members have been able to access interest arbitration, first through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Governor, then through a negotiated provision in our contract. With interest arbitration, we have prevented concessions, strengthened language and increased wages for DOC Teamsters by a minimum of 28.3% over six years.
But from the start our goal has always been to codify interest arbitration into State law. “We wanted to ensure these rights could not be stripped away during negotiations, so we made statutory interest arbitration a long-term priority,” Scearcy said.
Getting to the goal wasn’t easy. Ross Hunter, the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee blocked early drafts of the bill. Later, the State Senate lacked the votes to pass the legislation. But thanks in part to our union’s powerhouse political program, the legislative landscape in Washington State shifted in 2018, creating an environment for change.
“We worked hard to elect legislators who were supportive and that approach paid off,” Scearcy said.
Under Scearcy’s leadership, our union made another major push during this year’s legislative session. In 2019, we had our largest, most successful lobby day ever. Over 200 Teamsters and their families converged on the State Capitol to talk with legislators about the need to get the law passed.
Now, after years of determination and hard work, a goal once thought unattainable has become a reality.
“I’m proud to be a Teamster,” said James Deuel, a corrections officer at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. “Interest arbitration levels the playing field with management. It gives us the opportunity to fight for what we want and what we need.”