When we fight, we win!

Corrections & Law Enforcement


Gearing up for DOC contract negotiations starting next week

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Brothers and Sisters -

As your union's Secretary-Treasurer, I've had the privilege over the last several weeks to attend many of the contract proposal meetings across the state as we prepare for upcoming negotiations over our 2019-2021 Department of Corrections contract.

At those meetings, I spoke with many of you about the challenges you face in the workplace and improvements you would like to see in our contract.

I want to thank you personally for talking openly about your concerns. The input that so many of you provided, both at our meetings and in contract surveys, has been invaluable in helping our union bargaining team develop meaningful proposals for these negotiations. 

Negotiations with the State officially get underway next week. On Tuesday, May 1, our union team, which consists of 21 member leaders from facilities across the state, will meet independently to finalize our proposals. We will be across the table from the State for the first time on May 2. 


Meet the Member Leaders on your DOC Bargaining Committee

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As contract proposal meetings for Local 117 members who work at the Department of Corrections have come to a close, please welcome the rank-and-file members of your DOC Bargaining Committee.

They are volunteer Shop Stewards from across the state representing a comprehensive range of DOC positions. Together with union staff, they will be sitting across the table from the State over the next several months to negotiate over our 2019-2021 DOC collective bargaining agreement.

Negotiations will begin on May 1-2. All negotiations will take place at our Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila. Here is the schedule for negotiations:

  • May 1-2
  • May 23-24
  • June 5-6
  • June 20-21
  • July 10-11
  • July 17-18
  • July 23-27 (Mediation, if necessary)
  • August 22-31 (Interest Arbitration hearing, if necessary)

MCC steward encourages participation to DOC contract meetings

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Sgt Jason Heuer, a Shop Steward at MCC, is well versed in the rights and protections that our Dept. of Corrections contract provides. 


The life of a steward at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) keeps you on your toes. Jason Heuer, a sergeant at the facility who joined the steward ranks in March 2017, spent the better part of his day last week defending the contractual rights of his fellow members.

He dealt with an investigation, handled a discipline case, and juggled a number of grievances. Heuer, who knows his CBA inside and out, preaches the power and value of our contract.

"There's a lot of information in there that protects our members," he said. "My job as a steward is to ensure that management is being straight and that our rights are not being violated."

Heuer showed up to a contract proposal meeting this week with a couple of suggestions for our union bargaining team as we head into negotiations with the State this spring.

Wage increases, a more solid retirement, and suggested changes to unscheduled leave reporting are all issues he brought to the fore.

"Come in and speak your voice. That's what being part of a union is all about."

Heuer was happy to hear that the leave issue in Article 23 of the DOC contract is already being addressed through a demand to bargain. He was also pleased that we achieved funding in the state budget for an audit of staffing levels at the DOC. "That's something I've been pushing for at least 10 years," he said.

On the retirement front, our union's Political Director, Dustin Lambro, is putting together a member Task Force to begin to tackle the issue. Better retirement security is a major concern for DOC Teamsters. No one in their 60s, after 35 years of service, should have to go toe-to-toe with a violent inmate.

Getting the system changed will be a heavy lift and will require member political engagement on a massive scale. If you'd like to participate on our Retirement Task Force, please contact Dustin at dustin.lambro@teamsters117.org. Union Reps are also asking for volunteers at the contract proposal meetings taking place around the state over the next two weeks.

"These meetings are absolutely critical," Heuer said. "Come in and speak your voice. That's what being part of a union is all about."

 


Guardian Newsletter: On the Steps of the State Capitol

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.

 

 


DOC stewards assemble for training, negotiations prep

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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.”


Great news! State budget includes funding for DOC staffing level audit

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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.


Historic wins for workers as legislative session wraps up

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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!

 


Meet Amy Ford, our new Rep at WSP

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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!


DOC Contract Proposal Meetings - Dates, TImes, and Locations

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In April, we will be holding contract proposal meetings for all DOC Teamsters to prepare for bargaining over your 2019-2121 collective bargaining agreement.

Your feedback is important! Your bargaining team will use your input from these meetings to develop proposals for negotiations. Please bring your priorities to the meeting. Thank you!

You can view days, times, and facilities below. Click on the link to your facility to RSVP.

DAY DATE TIMES INSTITUTION
Monday 4/2/2018 0500, 0630, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1630 SCCC
Tuesday 4/3/2018 0630, 0900, 1130, 1430, 1630 MCC
Wednesday 4/4/2018 0500, 0630, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1630 LCC
Wednesday 4/4/2018 0530, 0625, 0800, 1130, 1415, 1530 AHCC
Thursday 4/5/2018 0500, 0630, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1630 CCCC
Thursday 4/5/2018 0600, 0800, 1130, 1300, 1415, 1530, 1630, 1800 CRCC
Thursday 4/5/2018 0700, 1330 CI
Friday 4/6/2018 1100, 1200 SWRBO
Friday 4/6/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 MCCCW
Monday 4/9/2018 1100, 1400, 1530, 2100, 2200 WCC
Tuesday 4/10/2018 0500, 0625, 0800, 1130, 1415, 1630 WSP
Tuesday 4/10/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 WCCW
Wednesday 4/11/2018 0830, 1000 MICC
Wednesday 4/11/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 OCC
Thursday 4/12/2018 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100 CBCC
Thursday 4/12/2018 1130 Central Pharmacy
Friday 4/13/2018 1100, 1200 DOC HQ

 


Op-Ed: WSP member urges Teamsters to stand strong & commit to each other

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Teamsters in the news! Sammi Muecke, a Local 117 member who works at the Washington State Penitentiary, has published a guest editorial piece in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. Sammi talks about the need to stand strong and stick together in the face of the Janus court case and open shop.

Thank you, Sammi, for making your voice heard!

U.S. Supreme Court Threatens to Divide Prison Staff
By S.L Muecke

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case, Janus v AFSCME, which could negatively impact public service unions across the country.

As union members employed at the Washington State Penitentiary, many of my co-workers and I are deeply concerned. If the Court rules as expected, so-called “right-to-work” would become the law of the land in all public sector workplaces.

Workers will be able to opt-out of paying their fair share in dues but will continue to reap all of the benefits of their union contract and representation without having to pay anything for it.

This threatens to divide us and weaken our union. Our ability to speak out for fair conditions at work, strong protections in our contract, and safety on the job are at stake.

My experience with the dismal working conditions in a right-to-work state is telling. In 2012, my husband and I moved to North Carolina, where I worked as a teacher in the public schools. What were the consequences of that move? I took a $7,000 annual pay cut, lost all of my health benefits and most of my paid holidays.

The state’s hiring standards were abysmally low and many teachers were underqualified. At end of the day, it was our students who paid the price for “right to work.”

Here in Washington State, my union fights for competitive wages, decent health benefits, and safe working conditions for me and my co-workers. We can hold our bosses accountable and are protected from arbitrary firing. We cannot be “let go” or forced out as we near retirement age. Our years of experience and service matter.

These protections and legitimate “rights at work” are especially important when facing the dangers that exist inside a prison. As a union, we have each other’s backs. Together, we look out for each other and make sure that our jobs are safe and secure.

In Olympia, members of Teamsters Local 117 worked together to extend critical benefits for officers and other prison staff who are assaulted on the job. This allows us to continue to support our families and care for ourselves when we have been injured in the line of duty.

The Washington State Penitentiary employs well over a thousand employees. We are officers, sergeants, counselors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, prison chaplains, clerical staff, maintenance staff, and many others. We put our lives on the line every day when we report to work.

Imagine all of us talking all at once about our own individual workplace concerns. The result would be a cacophonous mess without direction or power. Our union allows us to express our concerns with one powerful voice.

We may not be able to prevent the Court from ruling against us in the Janus case, but we can continue to stand together with one united front and speak with one voice. Apart, we are powerless, rudderless and too easily ignored. Together we are strong.

S.L. Muecke works in the mailroom at the Washington State Penitentiary. She is a member of Teamsters Local 117, which represents 5600 employees at the Department of Corrections statewide.