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Corrections & Law Enforcement

DOC Bargaining Team Negotiates Voluntary Furloughs


Members of DOC bargaining committee 2020 (left to right): Kimberly Cook, Christopher Lukens, Becky HaneyNixon, James Deuel.

Last Thursday and Friday, our Union Bargaining Committee met with the State to begin negotiations over our 2021-2023 contract with the DOC. 

Our Union team consists of 19 rank-and-file members from facilities across the State along with 7 Teamster staff members.  

These negotiations are unlike anything we've experienced before. Due to the coronavirus crisis, all bargaining sessions are conducted remotely using Zoom. Ordinarily, our Union team would have passed an initial comprehensive language proposal at the outset of negotiations. Instead, our discussions on both days revolved around the impact of COVID-19 and the State’s budget problems.

As you know, the operational impact on the agency has been profound. This is especially true given the recent outbreak at Coyote Ridge and the establishment of Regional Care Facilities at AHCC, MCC, and WCC. 

In Thursday's negotiation session, we spent most of the day discussing the Governor's announcement to eliminate raises and issue mandatory furloughs for some State employees. As expected, we received confirmation that your 4% general wage increase is secure. We also have strong legal footing that protects us against the Governor's unilateral furloughs.

At the direction of your rank and file bargaining committee, we have reached an agreement with the State on a Memorandum of Understanding. We did not agree to allow the State to impose mandatory furloughs. Rather, our agreement will allow bargaining unit members to participate in furloughs through a volunteer process as outlined in your Collective Bargaining Agreement.  

Bargaining unit members who volunteer to be furloughed will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits to help offset the impact of the reduced hours. The State will apply to participate in the SharedWork program which allows employees to collect partial unemployment while their work hours are reduced. This option of applying for voluntary lay-offs and/or reduction in work hours will be available through July 25th, 2020. Additionally, members may qualify for up to an additional $600 per week through the C.A.R.E.S. Act during this time.  

The State will work with Employment Security Department (ESD) for educational guidance and assistance with the application process. Please look for information from the agency with the details on how to apply.

These furloughs are not mandatory for Teamsters and members must utilize this form to volunteer to participate.

Your Teamsters contract is strong and protects you from the mandatory 1 day per week furloughs. However, the severity of the crisis that has profoundly impacted our lives and the projected Washington State budget deficit of $8.8 billion is real. With access to the SharedWork program, coupled with the additional benefit of the $600 per week through the C.A.R.E.S. Act, we encourage each of you to assess whether or not you are able and eligible to apply.

If you have questions, please speak with a member on your Union Negotiations Committee. For questions about voluntary furloughs, please contact your local HR department. Our next negotiation sessions are scheduled for July 1-2.

Governor cannot furlough, cut Teamster wages without negotiating


You may have seen in the news that the Governor has announced he is cancelling raises and issuing mandatory furloughs for some state employees.

As Teamsters, we have strong protections in our collective bargaining agreement and through the interest arbitration process that require the State to negotiate with us over issues related to economics. As a result, the Governor cannot furlough our members without the State first engaging us in negotiations. This is good news for members of Teamsters 117.

We were also notified that some State employees just had their raises cancelled. However, as a Teamster, you are receiving your 4% general wage increase effective July 1.

Our Union is strong, but our strength is not something that can be taken for granted.

DOC 4% wage increase scheduled to take effect July 1


We have received a lot of questions and concerns about how the pandemic might impact the previously negotiated general wage increase for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.

As a reminder, in our last round of contract negotiations, we achieved an 8% general wage increase for DOC Teamsters over the 2019-2021 biennium. This compares to a 6% increase for general government employees. Any change to what was achieved through collective bargaining and the interest arbitration process would require legislative action.

Although we do not anticipate that happening, it is not outside the realm of possibility given the magnitude of the crisis. You may have even seen in the news that some, including the Seattle Times editorial board, are calling on the legislature to cancel your raises.

As things currently stand, it appears that the crisis will not impact your scheduled wage increase, and you will receive your 4% general wage increase effective July 1

Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship winners announced


With so much turmoil facing our communities, we wanted to highlight inspirational stories of members and their families within our Union. 

Recently, we had the honor of recognizing two members of Teamsters 117, along with the daughter of one of our members, as the first-ever recipients of the Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship.

This scholarship was established by our Union's Womxn's Committee in the lead up to our inaugural Teamsters 117 Womxn's Conference held in Tukwila in 2019. The scholarship is named in honor of our Teamster Sister, Officer Jayme Biendl, a Local 117 member who was murdered in the line of duty in the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2011. 

Through this scholarship, we honor Officer Biendl's sacrifice by supporting the education of Teamster women who are dedicated to serving their communities. 

The recipients of the Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship for 2020 are: 

  • Julia Bonsell, member at the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society
  • Candace Kludt, member at South Sound 911
  • Jade Leota, dependent of member Christine O'Brien at the Port of Seattle

We congratulate these inspiring women who embody the indomitable spirit of Officer Biendl through their service and sacrifice. 

You can learn more about the Jayme Biendl Working Womxn's scholarship and our Union's other scholarship opportunities on our website here. To join in the exciting work of our Union's Womxn's Committee, please reach out to Jill Reese at jill.reese@teamsters117.org.

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.”