When we fight, we win!

Corrections & Law Enforcement

DOC interest arbitration bill passes unanimously off the Senate floor


We have fantastic news from Olympia tonight. Our bill (SB 5021) granting interest arbitration rights to Teamsters who work at the Washington State Department of Corrections passed unanimously out of the Senate. 

This is a major victory for DOC Teamsters who have been fighting for statutory interest arbitration since 2010. It is also a testament to all of the members and their families who met with their legislators last week at our Lobby Day event.

Clearly, your voice made a tremendous impact. We still need a majority of representatives in the House to vote in favor of the legislation and a signature from the Governor, but passage in the Senate puts us a huge step closer to achieving our goal.

If you met with your State Senator last week and asked them to support interest arbitration for DOC, please send an email thanking them for their support. 

Interest arbitration levels the playing field for union members working in public safety professions who don't have the ability to strike. It allows us to take mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral third-party arbitrator if we reach impasse with the State in contract negotiations. 

Employees of other public safety agencies such as the Washington State Patrol and county corrections have access to interest arbitration. Now is the time to win interest arbitration for our members working in corrections and at the University of Washington Police Department.

Teamster corrections employees rally on the steps of the State Capitol


A show of force on the Capitol steps in Olympia: DOC Teamsters fight for higher pay and interest arbitration.

Teamster corrections employees rallied in Olympia on Wednesday to push for safer workplaces and safer communities. 

The group of more than 175 members and their families met with legislators throughout the day as part of our annual Lobby Day. The event culminated on the steps of the State Capitol with members holding signs that read, "Invest in Corrections Employees" and "Public Safety, Public Service".

"It's a great day to be a Teamster," said Samuel Coleman, a correctional officer at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton who spoke at the rally. "We're here today to fight for safety, interest arbitration, and higher pay."

"We're here today to fight for safety, interest arbitration, and higher pay."

Members called on lawmakers to fund the Department of Corrections (DOC) and University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) contracts and to pass legislation granting interest arbitration rights to both groups.

Interest arbitration will level the playing field in negotiations, improve staff safety, and ensure that these employees are fairly compensated. It gives them access to the same rights as other public safety personnel, such as the Washington State Patrol and county police, corrections, and firefighters. 

Funding the DOC and UWPD contracts will create greater equity and boost morale. It will also help with recruitment and retention, which leads to more experienced staff and a safer working environment. 

"Teamster corrections employees and officers at the UWPD serve and protect all of us," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "The State needs to invest in the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. That starts with funding the DOC and UWPD contracts and passing interest arbitration for both groups." 

Thank you to all of the members who participated in this year's Lobby Day. Special thanks to Officer Samuel Coleman, Carrie Hesch, a recreational specialist at WCCW, and Lynn Kunkle, a registered nurse at MCC, for speaking so powerfully at the rally. 

Please be sure to call the Legislative Hotline in Olympia at 1-800-562-6000 and tell your legislators to fund our DOC and UWPD contracts, pass interest arbitration, and restore the right of trained DOC personnel to carry a concealed weapon. Your voice makes all the difference!




Lobby Day 2019: Logistics and Legislative Priorities


Next week, Teamsters from across the state will be converging on Olympia for our 2019 Legislative Reception and Lobby Day. Over 200 members have registered to join us for the event on February 26-27.

It's shaping up to be another incredible demonstration of Teamster unity, power, and purpose as we meet with legislators to discuss our legislative priorities.

If you are registered and unable to attend, please reach out to Political Director Dustin Lambro right away. You can call him at 206-794-2606 if you need to cancel.

Our Teamsters Lobby Day event starts with a dinner on Tuesday, February 26 at 7:30pm at the RL Hotel in Olympia. Accommodations will be provided for all registered members on the night of February 26.

On the morning of February 27, we will have a lobby training and breakfast before heading over to the Capitol for our appointments with legislators. 

Participating members will be receiving a confirmation letter with logistical information and our legislative priorities in the mail prior to the event. All of the information contained in the materials sent to your home, including info about our 2019 legislative agenda, transportation, the hotel, the training, attire, food, and appointments with legislators is available below:

This year we will be discussing the following issues with legislators:

  • Funding our 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement
  • Passing statutory interest arbitration
  • Fixing the concealed carry law for weapons-trained DOC members

If you have questions, please contact your union representative or feel free to reach out to Dustin at 206-794-2606. Remember if you need to cancel, please contact Dustin right away so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

Thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing you on February 26-27 in Olympia.

DOC Guardian Newsletter: Essential Rights for DOC

Guardian_web.jpgThe spring issue of our Guardian newsletter for Teamsters at the DOC is hot off the press!

In this issue, you'll find an overview of our goals for the 2019 legislative session in Olympia as well as the status of the bills we are tracking. 

Other highlights include a tribute to Richard Coleman, an officer at the Washington State Penitentiary, who is retiring this month as well as the announcement of Legislative Director Brenda Wiest as the new Vice President of our Union's Executive Board. 

You can view the new Guardian online here. Print copies will be distributed over the next few weeks by a committee of shop stewards and member leaders.

If you would like to volunteer to help distribute the Guardian or have an article to contribute, please reach out to your Union Representative.  

ACT NOW: Support safer conditions for Teamster nurses


In Olympia, nurses from across the state are standing together to support a law that would make our workplaces safer. The proposed legislation (HB 1155/SB 5190) would allow front-line caregivers to take uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.

At DOC, fatigue isn’t just a worker issue, it’s a safety issue. When DOC medical staff are chronically exhausted and overworked, the safety of the entire facility is put at risk.

Employers and management are trying to weaken protections for nurses by introducing a competing bill (SB 5344) that doesn’t solve the problem. We need to reject that proposal and send a resounding message to legislators that we support safer, more secure conditions for DOC nursing staff.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Find your legislators online, and send them an email telling them to support HB 1155 and SB 5190 and oppose SB 5344. You can copy and paste the message below or draft your own message. 

I am writing to ask you to support HB 1155 and SB 5190 and oppose SB 5344. I think it is important you hear from front-line patient care providers who would be impacted by this law. When I don’t get my breaks or lunches, I don’t have time to go to the bathroom, eat, or just rest my feet for 15 minutes. At DOC, when I am this overworked my safety and that of my co-workers is put at risk. SB 5344 does not address fatigue for nurses and leaves out other front-line providers that desperately need a solution as well. This bill continues to leave caregivers like me working in conditions that are unsafe. After ten years of trying to pass this law, it is time to act for the safety of workers and our communities. Thank you for your time, please support HB 1155 and SB 5190, and oppose SB 5344, which aims to weaken these efforts.

Thank you for standing together with Teamster nurses!

Olympia Update: DOC and UWPD interest arbitration bills clear first hurdle


Good news from Olympia! Our legislation to grant interest arbitration rights to our members at the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) (SB5021/SB5022) cleared a first, important hurdle in the Senate yesterday when the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee unanimously voted to pass both bills out of committee.

Our UWPD bill (HB1043) was also favorably passed out of the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee yesterday on a vote of 6-1. The House committee has not yet taken executive action on our DOC interest arbitration bill (HB1042), but we anticipate that will happen soon.

Because both bills will have an impact on the state budget, the bills that cleared their respective committees yesterday will now be sent to fiscal committees in the House (Appropriations) and Senate (Ways & Means), where we will have another opportunity to testify. We will update you when those hearings are scheduled.

Yesterday we also introduced our bill that will amend current statute to authorize trained DOC staff who have been subject to a background check in the last five years to carry a concealed weapon. This fix will restore a right that was taken away due to a problem with the RCW that invalidated our Peace Officer Identification Cards. The new bill (HB1589) has bipartisan support with twenty co-sponsors and will be considered by the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee.

Please take a moment to thank the Senators on the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee for recognizing the need for interest arbitration for DOC and UWPD by sending a quick email or calling their offices. Thanks also to the members who took time out of their busy schedules to give powerful testimony on the bills.

Members give powerful testimony on DOC and LE interest arbitration bills


Wearing our union colors down in Olympia for the interest arbitration hearings on January 17.

With the 2019 legislative session kicking off in Olympia this week, bills that would grant interest arbitration rights to our Department of Corrections (DOC) and University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) members are already starting to move. 

Several Teamsters provided powerful testimony supporting both bills today in hearings before the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee. 

Michelle Woodrow, our union's President and Director of Corrections & Law Enforcement, laid out our case for interest arbitration before legislators:

DOC and law enforcement employees perform one of the most stressful, dangerous jobs in the United States... Interest arbitration will ensure these employees are treated with the same respect as other public safety professionals by ensuring a level playing field in negotiations...

Interest arbitration is a right commonly available to public safety employees such as the Washington State Patrol who do not have the ability to strike. It allows our union to move mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral third-party arbitrator should we reach impasse in negotiations.

At the DOC, we achieved interest arbitration through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Governor in 2014 and negotiated it into our contract, but it has not been codified in statute. Our members at the UWPD have never had access to these rights.

Without access to interest arbitration, members like Officers Mark Hackett and Marvin McKinney of the UWPD have struggled to obtain critical safety gear to protect themselves in the line of duty. 

For Sergeant Jason Heuer and Officer James Deuel of the DOC, passing interest arbitration means securing their rights into the future. "It’s critical that we win this in statute because otherwise it can just be taken away...," they said.  

Thank you to our members who took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Olympia to testify. 

As session continues, there will be more hearings on these bills and more opportunities to make your voice heard. Passing interest arbitration for DOC and UWPD will require excellent participation at our upcoming Lobby Day on February 26-27. It will also require all of us coming together to educate legislators about the critical public safety work we perform.

Our union’s priorities as the 2019 legislative session gets underway


It’s political season again, as lawmakers in Washington State have headed back to Olympia for the start of the 2019 legislative session. This is a budget year, which calls for a long session – 105 days, running from January 14 through April 28, 2019. 

Over the last few years, our union has built a strong voice in Olympia. Participation at our annual lobby day has grown from a few dozen a decade ago to over 200 members and their families at last year’s event.  With a stronger voice, we’ve been able to achieve legislative change that has benefited workers across our state. We’ve funded contracts for state employees and passed bills that have made our workplaces safer and more secure.

Our collective power is a direct result of member involvement, and in 2019 there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Wage increases for DOC Teamsters in the new year


Now that 2019 has arrived, Teamsters who work at the WA State Department of Corrections can look forward to much-deserved wage increases that our union achieved through the interest arbitration process.

Effective January 1, 2019, most DOC Teamsters received a general wage increase of 3% while some classifications received targeted range increases. Those increases, which can be viewed here, are the last of three wage increases in our current 2017-2019 collective bargaining agreement.

In our 2019-2021 contract, you can expect the following increases:

To take effect, the wage increases in our 2019-2021 contract must be approved by the state legislature. Getting our contract funded will take an excellent turnout at our upcoming Teamsters Lobby Day on February 26-27.  

You can register online for our Lobby Day here.

Thank you for the incredible service you provide to communities across our state. Working inside a prison is a constant challenge, and you and your co-workers put your lives on the line every day to protect the public.

The wage increases you receive this year and next represent a small step toward honoring your work and giving you the recognition you deserve.

OFM deems DOC interest arbitration award financially feasible


We have good news to report from Olympia. We've just received word that the Office of Financial Management (OFM) has deemed our DOC interest arbitration award financially feasible.

OFM Director, David Schumacher, made the announcement in a memo sent to Governor Inslee on December 10. This means the Governor will include our award in his proposed 2019-2021 operating budget that will be submitted to the state legislature.   

OFM's determination is a critical step toward ensuring that the 8% general wage increase for DOC Teamsters and the other terms of the award will take effect.

But it is certainly not a foregone conclusion. The legislature must still vote to approve funding the award. 

Getting the award funded by the legislature will require an excellent showing at our DOC Lobby Day on February 26-27.

Most legislators have never set foot inside a prison and do not understand the challenging and essential nature of your work. We need to educate our legislators in Olympia about the critical work of corrections so they understand its value.

Please join your DOC co-workers in Olympia for our Lobby Day on February 26-27! If you have any questions about the event, talk to your union representative or contact Teamsters 117 Political Director Dustin Lambro.

You can register for the event online here.

Thank you for your service to our communities.