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Corrections & Law Enforcement

Strong union team readies for DOC contract negotiations


Our Union Bargaining Committee headed into contract negotiations with the State this week over our 2021-2023 DOC collective bargaining agreement for Teamsters at the DOC.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, negotiations are being held using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform. 

On Wednesday, May 27, our Union Team met with the State for a training on the new technology and to establish ground rules for negotiations.

On May 28, our Union Committee met independently to review the results from the member survey we conducted and to begin to establish our initial proposals based on your input. Please view the entire schedule for negotiations below.

DOC contract negotiations dates

  • May 27, 2020  (Zoom training day)
  • May 28, 2020 (Union committee prep day)
  • June 17-18, 2020
  • July 1-2, 2020
  • July 15-16, 2020
  • July 22-23, 2020
  • July 27-31, 2020

Joining us on our Union Negotiations Committee are all Teamsters 117 Union Representatives along with rank-and-file Shop Stewards from facilities across the State. I will be leading negotiations for the Union together with Eamon McCleery, our Union's staff attorney, and DOC Coordinator Sarena Davis. 

Our 2020 DOC Union Negotiations Committee

  • Michelle Woodrow, Teamsters 117 - President
  • Eamon McCleery, Teamsters 117 - Staff Attorney
  • Sarena Davis, DOC Coordinator
  • Talisa Boad, Union Representative
  • Cheryl Miller, Union Representative
  • Fred Rodgers, Union Representative
  • Wesley Wilson, Union Representative
  • Corey Doty, AHCC – CS3
  • Edward Smith, AHCC – CO2
  • Sheryl Green, AHCC – RN2
  • Christopher Lukens, CBCC – MM4
  • Daniel Abercrombie, CRCC – CO2
  • Brooke Hays, CRCC – CC2
  • Shawn Piliponis, LCC – CC2
  • Paul Moore, MCC – RN3
  • Jason Heuer, MCC – CO3
  • James Yadon, MCC – CO2
  • Alena McGowan-Folsom, MCCCW – AC Cook
  • Jesse Reese, SCCC – CO2
  • Gregg Peterson, SCCC – CO2
  • Tony Tellez, WCC – CISA
  • James Deuel, WCC – CO2
  • Kimberly Cook, WCCW – CO2
  • Christopher Malone, WSP – CO2
  • William Teepe, WSP – CO2
  • Becky HaneyNixon, WSP – CC3

Given the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the State budget, we anticipate that these will be challenging negotiations and may raise issues that we have not dealt with in the past. We will provide regular updates for you as negotiations progress.

If you have questions, please reach out to members on the Bargaining Committee or your Union Representative

Thank you for the invaluable service you are providing our communities. Please take care of yourself and your loved ones and remember to stay healthy and safe during this crisis and beyond.

Line of Duty Death: We mourn the COVID-19 related passing of Teamster Officer at MCC


Michelle Woodrow, President and Executive Director of Teamsters 117, issued the following statement regarding the COVID-19 related death of Officer Berisford Morse of the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC):

“We are extremely saddened to hear the news of the passing of Berisford Morse, a Teamster Correctional Officer with over 17 years of service at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Officer Morse died May 17, 2020 due to complications from COVID-19.

On behalf of the Teamsters Local 117 Executive Board and the 17,000 members of our Local Union, we would like to express our heartfelt sympathy and deep condolences to Officer Morse’s family, friends, and co-workers during this difficult time.

Officer Morse contracted COVID-19 through exposure to the coronavirus in the line of duty. Through his work in corrections, he put his life on the line to protect the public and keep our communities safe. No one deserves to die on the job, but when a workplace death is tied to public service it is especially painful and worthy of recognition. Officer Morse was a hero and we will never forget his service and sacrifice. We mourn his untimely loss and honor our fallen Brother.”

Honoring our Telecommunicators at a time of national crisis


Sisters and Brothers -

As National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week comes to an end, I want to take a moment to thank you and highlight all of you that have chosen this profession.

When people talk about our first responders, many leave out an essential, highly-skilled group of workers - Telecommunicators - whose service is especially valuable at this time of crisis.

As Teamsters 911 personnel, you often serve as the first, critical point of contact with the public seeking relief in the event of emergency. You work behind the scenes to ensure the safety of the public and protect our police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel by monitoring their activities by radio and providing them with vital information.

Covid-19 has not only increased the call volume at our 911 centers, it has made your work more challenging as people deal with the stressors of life during a global pandemic. 

"In the midst of a national emergency, your work is more vital than ever."

We all owe tremendous gratitude to you for your dedication, commitment, and professionalism. In the midst of a national emergency, your work is more vital than ever.

As someone who worked as a 911 dispatcher for 20 years, I know the pressures of the job and the challenges you face. You perform heroic work, but often receive little recognition for the life-saving services you provide. 

Thank you again for the amazing work you do on behalf of the public.

In unity,

Michelle Woodrow
President and Executive Director

Update for Teamsters working in law enforcement and emergency response


As public safety employees, your job puts you on the frontlines of our fight against this pandemic. To help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, we are working hard to ensure that employers are providing adequate paid time off to employees who are required to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

Thanks to the efforts of many unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Act requires public employers to provide two emergency leave benefits to employees:

Paid Sick Leave: Public employers are required to provide up to two weeks paid leave for employees to care for their own coronavirus related illness or quarantine, someone in their household who is ill with coronavirus or quarantined, a child that is home due to a coronavirus-related school closure or an unavailable child care provider.

Paid Family Leave: Public employers are required to provide up to twelve weeks of paid leave for employees if the employee is unable to work due to a need to care for their child because of a school or day care closure or because their child care provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus public health emergency.

Virtual DOC contract proposal meetings on April 15


To prepare for upcoming negotiations over our 2021-2023 collective bargaining agreement, we will be hosting virtual Contract Proposal Meetings for all DOC Teamsters.

The meetings will take place this Wednesday, April 15 at 0800, 1200, and 1600 using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform.

You will have the opportunity to participate in the meetings by video using your electronic device or by telephone. To register for a meeting, please click on one of the links below:


Wednesday, April 15 at 0800

Wednesday, April 15 at 1200

Wednesday, April 15 at 1600

To learn more about what we've achieved through contract negotiations and why it's so important for your voice to be included in the process, view our Stand for a Strong Contract tri-fold here.

Please contact your Union Representative if you have questions. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible this Wednesday!

Corrections staff at MCC respond to emergency incident with professionalism


Michelle Woodrow, President and Executive Director of Teamsters 117, issued the following statement regarding the incident that took place last night at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC):

“We are extremely proud of our members’ response to the disturbance that occurred last night at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Despite the challenging nature of the incident and the large number of incarcerated individuals involved, corrections staff were able to secure the impacted parts of the facility in less than an hour.

Due to the swift and effective response of our members, the Department of Corrections is reporting no injuries to staff or the inmate population. We are grateful to the first responders – the Washington State Patrol, local law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs – who assisted our members in the rapid response to the incident.

At the Monroe facility and in prisons across our State, our members are working diligently to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They are adhering to social distancing protocols, implementing initial screening of all people entering the prisons, and testing, treating, and isolating symptomatic individuals. They are working tirelessly to protect the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our State prison system.

These are stressful, frightening times for our entire community, especially so for essential corrections personnel and all incarcerated individuals. We owe tremendous gratitude to corrections staff for responding to emergency incidents like the one that occurred in Monroe last night with care and professionalism. Our members put their lives on the line to protect all of us. We are grateful for their service.”


VIDEO: Michelle Woodrow speaks about efforts to address COVID-19 issues at DOC


As the Department of Corrections struggles to manage the COVID-19 crisis, we have been working on many fronts to advocate on your behalf.

To summarize some of the work of our Union since the coronavirus pandemic began, I've created a video message for all DOC Teamsters.

In the video, I describe our work around issues such as DOC's initial and secondary screening processes, additional leave we've secured through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and more.

Throughout this crisis, we've been in constant communication with the Governor's Office, OFM, and the Department to make sure they are prioritizing your health and safety. Our Union Representatives and Shop Stewards are working incredibly hard to protect you and your co-workers. If you have an issue around safety in the workplace, please contact your Union Representative to report it.

Please also remember that, with contract negotiations scheduled to begin this year over our 2021-2023 collective bargaining agreement, we will be holding Virtual Contract Proposal Meetings on April 15. 

I will be sending you an invitation to register for the meetings soon using Zoom, an online video and telephonic conferencing platform.

You can watch the video here:

Teamsters secure Emergency Paid Leave for corrections members under Families First Act


We have some fantastic news to share for Teamsters at the DOC.

Our Union has secured emergency Paid Sick Leave and expanded Family Medical Leave for ALL Teamsters 117 corrections members in Washington State under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, federal legislation that takes effect today.

The federal legislation does not require all public employers to provide the emergency leave and expressly says that correctional institution personnel may be excluded. So for us to secure coverage under the new law for you and your family is a major win.

Over the last several days, we have worked hard to convince the Governor, the Office of Financial Management (OFM), and the Department that you should be covered under the new law.

This is an incredibly important win for you and your family. It helps recognize the critical health and safety work you are providing the community at this time of crisis.

With this benefit, comes shared responsibility. Your Union advocated vigorously for this benefit to be used if you are sick or facing a family crisis. Please use the emergency leave judiciously and in careful consideration of your DOC co-workers who are working tirelessly to keep all of us healthy and safe. 

Below please find a brief summary of what you are entitled to under the law. For more detailed information, refer to the Department of Labor's informational flyer or OFM's website. If you need to utilize this leave, please contact your local Human Resources office with any questions.

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave
    • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
    • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • Emergency Family Medical Leave
    • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Save the Date! Virtual Contract Proposal Meetings for DOC on April 15


Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we had to cancel all of our Union's in-person Contract Proposal Meetings for Teamsters at the DOC.

The purpose of those meetings was to give you an opportunity to provide additional feedback so that we can develop meaningful proposals as we prepare for upcoming contract negotiations with the State over our 2021-2023 collective bargaining agreement.

To replace those meetings, we have scheduled virtual meetings to take place on Wednesday, April 15. Virtual Contract Proposal Meetings for all DOC Teamsters will take place on April 15 at 0800, 1200, and 1600 using a virtual conferencing platform.

We will be sending out an email with information about how to access the virtual meetings. If you have questions, please reach out to your Union Representative.

We are incredibly proud of the work you and your Teamsters co-workers at the DOC are doing to keep our communities healthy and safe at this time of crisis.

Thank you for your service.


Extraordinary steps taken by DOC Teamsters to keep the virus at bay


Teamster nurses at WCC - Melissa Johnson (l) and Patty Patterson (r) - are working overtime to keep COVID-19 out of the state prison system.

With the COVID-19 crisis, Teamsters inside our state prison system are making extraordinary efforts to keep our communities healthy and safe.

Upon entering the facilities, everyone – all DOC personnel and inmates – have to be screened for the disease. This puts an additional burden on staff who are already stretched thin.

“We’ve had to quarantine entire buses of inmates entering our prison,” says Patty Patterson, an RN3 at the Washington Correction Center (WCC) in Shelton.

“Our graveyard staff is decimated,” adds fellow nurse, Melissa Johnson. “Of 29 full-time nurses at our facility, 9 are out due to possible COVID exposure. That’s a huge hit.”

The shortage in nursing staff has come with an increased workload. Screening has to be administered to all inmates seeking medical assistance. At WCC, that’s between 50-100 inmates a day. Anyone exhibiting symptoms needs to be put in isolation.

Despite the challenges, medical staff are rising to the occasion. They're covering for each other, putting in lots of overtime and pulling double shifts. 

“We want people to know we’re taking care of their family members,” Patterson said. “As stretched thin as we are, I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”

"I couldn’t be prouder of our team."

The coronavirus pandemic has made things tough on custody staff as well. Brandon Jennings, a Shop Steward at WCC, says he and his fellow officers are doing everything they can to enforce social distancing among the inmates, but it’s a daunting task.

Part of the problem is the constant influx of inmates coming in from the counties to the state system. This has led to crowded cells, with some inmates having to sleep on the floor. “We’re up to 356 inmates in our unit,” Jennings says. “That’s up from 240 at normal capacity.”

Corrections staff are used to dealing with health and security challenges. But keeping such a contagious virus out of the system has added a sense of urgency and a new layer of complexity.

"Our members are stepping up and doing an amazing job," said Michelle Woodrow, President of Teamsters 117. "They're dealing with outside stressors impacting their families - like not having access to daycare or their spouses getting laid off. At the same time, they're showing up to work, supporting each other, and approaching this crisis with the seriousness and professionalism needed to prevent the spread of this disease."

In short order, Teamsters at the DOC have implemented CDC guidelines and are administering a rigorous screening process to slow the spread of COVID-19 in an environment that has the potential to be a breeding ground for the virus.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Jennings says. "We're doing our best to keep the community safe."