When we fight, we win!

Corrections & Law Enforcement


State coalition of unions achieves tentative agreement on health care

We have some good news to report on health care for state employees. Our Coalition of Unions has achieved a tentative agreement with the State on your benefits for the 2019-2021 biennium.

The agreement maintains the status quo on your premium share from the previous biennium. Your employer will continue to contribute 85% of the total weighted average of the premium, while members will contribute 15%.

The agreement also provides some relief for those making less than $50,004 per year in the form of a flexible spending account (FSA) paid for by the employer. You can view the details here.

We will be conducting a vote by Internet/Telephone for all state employee bargaining units covered under the agreement. Voting instructions will be sent to you by mail. Watch your email over the next few days for more information.  

Our Coalition of State Employee Unions recommends that you vote yes. If ratified, this agreement on health care will be incorporated into your collective bargaining agreement as required under state law.

Thank you for your service to our communities.


Teamster sharpshooters take aim at hunger

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Teamsters fighting hunger (from l to r): Matthew House, Mark Hackett, Chris Ellrodt, Roger Gale, and Jed Slagter. 


A group of sharpshooters from two Teamster police departments joined forces last month to take aim at hunger. Officers from the City of Pacific and the University of Washington along and their union representative, Matthew House, teamed up for the Emergency Food Network’s annual Breaking Hunger Trap Shooting and Archery Tournament.

The contest, held at the Gig Harbor Sportsmen’s Club on August 10, raised over $16 thousand dollars to help feed hungry families in Pierce County. “This was my first time,” said Sergeant Jed Slagter, who heard about the event from a fellow officer. “It was for a good cause, well organized, and a lot of fun.”

"It was for a good cause, well organized, and a lot of fun."

Slagter, who’s been on the force at the City of Pacific Police Department for five years, talked about the importance of his union giving back to the community. “It’s great for Teamsters to participate in these kinds of charitable events,” he said.

Our union’s Executive Board covered the team’s registration fee. All proceeds from the event go to benefit the Emergency Food Network.

Thank you to our members from the Teamsters Law Enforcement & Corrections Division who participated in the tournament:

  • Jed Slagter, City of Pacific Police Dept.
  • Roger Gale, City of Pacific Police Dept.
  • Chris Ellrodt, University of Washington Police Dept.
  • Mark Hackett, University of Washington Police Dept.

The Pierce County emergency food system includes 67 food banks providing over 15 million meals annually to over a hundred thousand families in need. Teamsters Local 117 is a generous supporter of EFN and has participated in a number of volunteer events to benefit the organization.


Union presents powerful closing argument as DOC interest arbitration hearing draws to a close

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Today our union’s legal team presented a powerful closing statement before the arbitrator as we concluded our case for higher compensation for DOC Teamsters in our 2019-2021 contract.

Our union’s number one priority is a general wage increase for all bargaining unit members that recognizes the challenging and dangerous nature of your work and the critical public safety service you provide to communities across Washington State.

Our case is built on compelling testimony from members who spoke during the arbitration of threats to their families, assaults against staff, high turnover, crushing overtime, and other safety-related concerns that make working inside a prison in our state unique.

In closing, our union attorney summarized our argument:

“The Department, the State, and its citizens benefit every hour of every day that its correctional workers put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the Department and the public at large, and it cannot continue to be the case that these employees continue to internalize some portion of the cost of the work by being undercompensated.”

Our case is also built on persuasive comparable data presented by a financial expert witness retained by the union. Our witness testified that compensation for Washington State corrections employees is not commensurate with corrections workers in similarly-sized states, counties, and jurisdictions.

The employer tried to dismiss our data at the county level, stating that the DOC is not losing large numbers of employees to the counties. We vigorously contested that position. No matter how you slice the data, members of the bargaining unit are significantly undercompensated. Even the State admitted that your compensation falls well below the comparators.

Still, throughout the hearing, the State clung to its final economic proposal in negotiations. The State’s attorney testified in her closing argument that a general wage increase of 2% in year one and 2% in year two of the contract is “fair and reasonable.” This proposal is grossly inadequate and would not even keep pace with the cost of living. It’s no surprise that the State’s proposal was rejected by 99% of members participating in our recent contract vote.

In contrast, our union's final protected position going into arbitration was an across-the-board general wage increase of 8.5% in year one and 8.5% in year two of the contract, plus a 3.6% cost-of-living increase in each year of the contract. Our position was based on comparable data researched by our financial experts and the current consumer price index.

Our case also showed how profound recruitment and retention difficulties at the Department adversely impact morale, safety, and lead to inordinate amounts of overtime. We presented evidence that the Department has an astounding 8% vacancy rate in CO2 positions alone. In their closing, the State continued to downplay recruitment and retention as a problem.

The arbitrator must issue his decision by no later than October 1 and has indicated that we can expect it to come as early as September 26. As soon as we receive the award, we will publish it on our union’s website with a summary and our analysis. Thank you to the members who took time away from their families to testify during arbitration. Their testimony about the challenges of working in Washington State prisons makes our case for higher wages genuine, compelling, and strong.


DOC interest arbitration marked by powerful member testimony

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Over the last few days, our interest arbitration hearing has been marked by powerful testimony from members and some frustrating moments from DOC management.

Last Thursday, correctional officer James Deuel of WCC testified about scaled-back staffing levels on graveyard shift and how it impacts safety. He also addressed the cumulative stress of the job:

“I'm a human being.  I don't think that anybody should have to see some of the things that I've seen.  I mean, when it comes to offenders assaulting other offenders, possibly killing them, which has happened, hurting themselves, hurting each other…”

Officer Deuel also spoke about threats to his own safety and to his family, and of encountering offenders after they’ve been released into the community:

“If I'm by myself, it's just like being at work.  If I'm with my kids it's very -- it's nerve-wracking, something you don't want to see.”

Adam Kapa, a transportation sergeant at WCC, testified about the dangers of operating a chain bus:

“We don’t know what we're getting.  We haven't had time to classify them.  We haven't had time to get to know them, they're just delivered to us by the counties….we don't know what else their temperament is like, what they're going to do.”

Like Deuel, Sergeant Kapa spoke of threats directed at him and his family:

“I've received threats of physical harm or death to myself, to my family, rape of my wife and daughter, and myself.  I've – several threats – pretty much as heinous as you can think.”

Through member testimony, like that of Officer Deuel and Sergeant Kapa, our union’s legal team is establishing the risks and high-level stress associated with the job as we continue to make our case for higher compensation than the State proposed in contract negotiations.

Last week, we also heard from DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair. Sinclair’s testimony irked members in the room, especially when he stated that he hadn’t given a lot of thought about whether members of the bargaining unit are satisfied with their compensation.  He also testified that he hadn’t heard much from members who are dissatisfied with their compensation. These remarks seemed tone deaf and completely out of touch with the rank-and-file.

This week, we've had an expert witness present comparable data in states of like sizes and jurisdictions as well as data involving compensation for corrections employees at the county level.

We anticipate wrapping up the hearing this Friday, at which point we will give you another update. Please check your email and look for more information coming soon.

View a short video update from the hearing below:

 


Union demands equity on wages as DOC interest arbitration begins

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Our union team presented the case for higher compensation for DOC Teamsters today in the first day of our interest arbitration hearing with the State.

The core of our argument is that our corrections members deserve more than the State’s proposal to raise wages by 2% in year one and 2% in year two of our contract. The membership unequivocally rejected that proposal by 98.8% to 1.2% in the recent DOC contract vote.

The results of the vote triggered the interest arbitration clause in our contract. It also sent a powerful message to the arbitrator that the State’s substandard proposal does not come close to recognizing the critical work DOC Teamsters do to serve and protect our communities.

Unfortunately, the State is still not getting the message. They continued to maintain in today’s proceedings that higher wages for DOC are unnecessary and unwarranted.

Our union attorneys countered by laying out our argument for higher wages based on comparables with corrections employees in like jurisdictions. You can view the union’s opening statement here.


A Resounding NO: DOC Teamsters Vote to Reject State's Contract Propsoal

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Our message is loud and clear. By an overwhelming margin, DOC Teamsters have voted to reject the State’s contract proposal.

The final vote results are as follows:

  • 98.8% (2886) voted to REJECT the State’s offer.
  • 1.2% (34) voted to ACCEPT the State's offer

With over 50% of the DOC membership casting a ballot, this contract vote has one of the highest voter participation rates ever.

Clearly, the membership found the State’s proposal to increase wages by 2% in year one and 2% in year two insultingly low. With a strong economy and higher than expected revenues, the State needs to do more to recognize your work and the sacrifices you make every day to serve and protect our communities.

The vote to reject the proposal means that we now have the opportunity to present our argument for higher wages before a neutral, third-party arbitrator in a hearing scheduled to start this Wednesday, August 22 in Tacoma. 

The arbitrator will listen to evidence on both sides and issue a decision on general wage increases and other economic elements of our contract by the end of September.

No matter what the arbitrator decides, we will need to make sure that the award is fully funded by the State legislature during the next legislative session in Olympia, which starts in January. This will require a massive participation at our annual Lobby Day event, which will take place in February next year.

The interest arbitration hearing is scheduled to run for eight days. During the hearing, we will provide you with regular updates. We will also be calling on members of the bargaining unit to testify at the hearing as we make our case before the arbitrator. 

Thank you to everyone who made their voice heard and for following the lead of our union’s negotiations committee that unanimously recommended that you reject the State’s proposal.

Your work as Teamster corrections employees is worth more than the State’s substandard offer. You face challenges and dangers on the job that the public doesn’t understand to protect all of us. The State needs to do more to honor your service.


TAKE ACTION: Defend attacks on health care for state employees!

Hands-Off-Our-Health-Care.pngAccess to good health care is critical for State employees, but so far the State is not getting the message. In the current round of health care negotiations, their proposal would increase out-of-pocket costs for you and your family.

Our coalition of unions has proposed COST SAVINGS through a reduced premium share, but the State is pushing back. We need to flood the Governor's office with phone calls and emails now!

Tell the Governor to fund a health care agreement that values the hard work you perform to serve and protect our communities. 

During the recession, State employees made sacrifices to help the State through its financial crisis. Now that the State is back on solid financial footing, they need to prevent costly increases to your health care.

CALL AND EMAIL THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE NOW!

Call Governor Inslee's office at 360-902-4111 or send him an email now. Urge him to:

  • Support a fair health care agreement that values the hard work and sacrifices you make to serve and protect our communities.

Please call and email the Governor now!


DOC Contract Voting Is Now Closed - Voting Closed on Sunday Night at 11:59 P.M.

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DOC VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. VOTING CLOSED AT 11:59 P.M. ON SUNDAY, AUG. 19.  We will be posting the results on Monday, August 20. Stay Tuned!

Your union negotiations committee unanimously recommends that you VOTE NO!

VOTING INSTRUCTIONS

Voting is being conducted two ways: (1) by telephone or (2) through the internet. You may only vote by one (1) method. Polls open at 12:01 A.M. on Monday, August 6 and close at 11:59 P.M. on Sunday, August, 19.

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THAT YOU VOTE NO!

Your union's negotiations committee is unanimously recommending that you VOTE NO on your contract. A majority voting no will send the State's substandard economic proposal to an interest arbitration hearing where we will make our case for higher wages before the arbitrator.

Please review the documents listed below AND attend one of the contract update meetings at your facility to understand why we are recommending a NO vote. The cover letter, voting instructions, and contract summary documents below will also be mailed to your home address on file with the union.

DOC CONTRACT DOCUMENTS

CONTRACT UPDATE MEETINGS

Attend one of the contract update meetings at your facility to understand why we are recommending a NO vote and to inform yourself about the upcoming interest arbitration process. Be sure to check the times and locations of the meetings at your facility.

It is important that we have excellent voter turnout and a strong NO VOTE so that we can make our case for higher wages before the arbitrator!


Teamster leadership academy participant organizes BBQ for fellow members

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Cheryl Miller, her husband Mark, and AHCC member Rob Rinard setting up for the BBQ event on July 31. 


Hot dogs sizzled on the grill as DOC members grabbed a bite to eat and discussed an upcoming contract vote and the need to stay strong given a recent Supreme Court ruling that threatens our union.

The BBQ was organized by Cheryl Miller, a shop steward at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane. Cheryl is a participant in our Teamsters Leadership Academy and drew inspiration to hold the event from the 9-month course.

“Putting on an event like this was strictly by a member for a member,” she said.  “The only way that we can stay strong is to stick together and stand our ground otherwise we’re going to end up working for a lot less wages than we’re getting now.”

"The only way that we can stay strong is to stick together..."

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Janus v AFSCME to create an “open shop” environment in the public sector, allowing members to abandon their unions. The danger of open shop is that wages, benefits, and working conditions can erode over time. Cheryl wanted to spread the word that the antidote to open shop is member unity and engagement.

Over the course of the day, hundreds of members stopped by to chat and grab a hot dog. Many expressed their appreciation and said they would make sure to vote on their contract.

An event of this scale cannot be put on without help.  Cheryl recruited her husband, Mark, a retired Teamster food service manager and fellow member Rob Rinard to pass out materials and work the grill. Teamster staff were on hand, including Michelle Woodrow, our union’s President and Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement, to talk about negotiations and answer questions.

“What an excellent way to build union solidarity,” Woodrow said. “Thank you to Cheryl Miller for organizing this event and to all of our DOC members who work so hard to keep our communities safe. They deserve a contract that recognizes their sacrifice and honors their commitment to public safety.”


DOC negotiations team unanimously recommends that you vote NO on the State’s proposal

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Our DOC negotiations team worked late into the night on Friday and early into Saturday morning after a long week in mediation with the State in an effort to resolve the elements of our 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement that we were unable to reach agreement on.

The team worked hard to craft an equitable economic proposal that values the critical public safety work you perform. Our proposal was based on well-researched comparables of corrections employees performing similar work in like jurisdictions.

In the end, the State was unwilling to come even remotely close to adequately recognizing your work. The State’s proposal as of Saturday morning is 2% in year one and 2% in year two of the contract. Their final offer ignores the dangers you face on the job and the essential role you play in keeping our communities safe.

As a result, our union’s negotiations committee is unanimously recommending that you vote to reject the State’s proposal.

Contract voting will be conducted in two ways: 1) by telephone or 2) through the internet. The telephonic and online internet polls open at 12:01 AM on Monday, August 6, 2018, and close at 11:59 PM on Sunday, August 19, 2018.

We will make available a summary document and a redline contract proposal document as well as complete voting instructions by the end of this week. You will be notified by email when the documents are available for your review on our union’s website.

We will be holding in-person meetings to review the State’s proposal and to answer your questions starting on Monday, August 6. You can view the complete schedule of contract update meetings at all locations here.

Assuming a majority of the voting DOC membership casts a no vote, we will exercise the interest arbitration rights in our contract and go to hearing with the State. At the hearing, we will present the following mandatory subjects of bargaining before a neutral arbitrator who will make an impartial ruling:

  • A general wage increase for all DOC Teamsters based on comparable data
  • Elements of Article 16 of our contract (Hours of Work)

The interest arbitration hearing will be held at the end of August with Arbitrator Joseph Duffy presiding. Our union’s legal counsel is busy preparing our case and will likely call on a number of DOC members to testify.

Again, our negotiations committee is unanimously recommending that you vote NO on the States proposal. Our unity in rejecting the State’s substandard proposal will give us the strongest possible position as we head into interest arbitration. Please be sure to vote and make your voice heard!

In closing, our deep gratitude goes out to our incredible negotiations team for their dedication, commitment, perseverance, and strength. Our team worked tirelessly to achieve the best possible contract for all Teamsters at the DOC. Be sure to thank them for their service.

You can view a short video update from negotiations here.