Richard Coleman (center) fighting for interest arbitration at the Local 117 Day of Action event in Olympia in 2012.
Richard Coleman has his sights set on travel. The longtime Walla Walla resident has imagined destinations closer to home, and others further afield: from the Oregon Coast to the beaches of Belize, from the Civil War battlefields of Virginia to the Baltic states in Eastern Europe.
After 36 years of public service, trips once unfathomable are about to become a reality.
With retirement just a hair's breadth away, he credits his union for allowing him to bow out earlier than he’d imagined. Thanks to hard-fought wage increases over the last three contract cycles achieved through interest arbitration, he’s seen his social security and state pension benefits swell.
“Interest arbitration has been phenomenal in helping to raise our pay,” he said. “Without this level of income, I’d have to be working a couple years more. Now I have a good, solid retirement base.”
"Now I have a good, solid retirement base."
For Coleman, retirement from the Department of Corrections comes this February, the 28th of the month to be precise - not that anyone’s counting.
We wanted to share a letter issued by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to members of Teamsters Local 117 at the Port of Seattle Police Department.
The letter comes as a result of a comment the Mayor made at a recent Seattle Police Officers' Guild meeting that denigrated the work of other law enforcement agencies, including the Port of Seattle.
As soon as we became aware of the Mayor's remarks, our union's Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy reached out to the mayor's office and insisted on an apology.
In her letter, Mayor Durkan states that she "never meant to impugn the hard work of the Port of Seattle Police Department or any other neighboring jurisdictions that keep our region safe..."
You can read the Mayor's letter in its entirety here.
With the holidays approaching, our ports of entry nationwide become packed with travelers and potentially more dangerous. Thank you to our members at the Port of Seattle for your sacrifice during this busy season as you serve and protect our communities and work so hard to keep all of us safe.
As stated in a recent memo sent from the Department of Corrections to members of Teamsters 117, a new interpretation of the law that arose as a result of a WSP and FBI audit invalidates our Peace Officer Identification Cards effective immediately.
As a result, correctional employees who formerly met the requirements under the law are no longer able to carry concealed weapons without a concealed weapons license.
This represents a blow to your right as a DOC employee to protect yourself in public, a right that our Teamsters union worked hard to achieve through a change in statute back in 2011.
Our Legislative Director, Brenda Wiest, is currently reviewing the statue in an effort to identify a legislative fix that will restore your right to carry a concealed weapon without the licensing requirement. Assuming a solution is viable, we will include this priority to our 2019 legislative agenda along with the other priorities we have identified: funding our 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement and achieving statutory interest arbitration rights for DOC.
As always, your participation at our Lobby Day on February 26-27, 2019 and your engagement in Olympia this legislative session will be critical to achieving these priorities. We will keep you posted as soon as we have more information.
Join us for our 2018 Holiday Membership Meetings for Teamsters at DOC. At the meetings, we will be discussing:
- the interest arbitration award & our contract
- our 2019 legislative agenda
- Lobby Day 2019 and getting our contract funded
- keeping our union strong with open shop
You can view days, times, and facilities below. Click on the link to your facility to RSVP.
|AHCC||Thursday||November 29||0630, 0830, 1230, 1420, 1600|
|CBCC||Wednesday||November 28||0600, 1130, 1300, 1410, 2100|
|CCCC||Thursday||November 15||0620, 1200, 1410, 1530|
|CI HQ||Friday||November 16||1300, 1430|
|CRCC||Thursday||November 15||0600, 0830, 1100, 1230, 1415, 1600, 1815|
|DOC HQ||Monday||December 3||0900-1100|
|LCC||Tuesday||November 27||0620, 1200, 1300, 1410, 1530|
|Maple Lane Pharmacy||Wednesday||November 28||1130, 1230|
|MCC||Friday||December 7||0630, 0930, 1130, 1430, 1630|
|MCCCW||Friday||November 15-16||11/15 at 2100, 11/16 at 1130, 1300, and 1410|
|MICC||Wednesday||November 14||1000, 1500|
|OCC||Thursday||November 29||1130, 1300, 1410, 2100|
|SCCC||Tuesday||November 13||0500, 0615, 1130, 1415, 1630|
|WCC||Wednesday||December 12||1100, 1230, 1410, 1600, 2100, 2200|
|WCCW||Wednesday||December 5||0620, 1130, 1300, 1410, 1530|
|WSP||Tuesday||November 27||0530, 0645, 0800, 1130, 1430, 1630|
The new issue of our DOC Guardian newsletter is hot off the press!
Get caught up on our interest arbitration award, the new DOC contract, and our upcoming Teamsters lobby day on February 26-27 of next year.
You can also read about our new Membership Benefits Plus program and a shop steward at Airway Heights who hosted a barbecue to educate her co-workers about how to keep our union strong in a post-Janus world.
Check out a PDF of the Guardian online here. Print copies will be available for members at the facilities over the next few weeks.
In early October, a group of member leaders and Teamster staff spent several days at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla to discuss with members the recent interest arbitration award and how to keep our union strong in the post-Janus environment.
One evening, the group took time out to interview Skyler Rude, who is seeking our union’s endorsement. Skyler is running as a republican for a state house seat in the 16th Legislative District, which spans Walla Walla to Pasco and most of south Benton County.
Teamster Wesley Wilson, a corrections officer of 11 years at the Pen, was one of a handful of members who joined in the interview process and ultimately recommended an endorsement. We recently caught up with Wes to get his take on the candidate, the endorsement process, and politics in general.
Why do you think it’s important for our union to be involved in politics?
We have to be involved with politics because the legislature decides whether to fund our contract. We’ve got to have that political pull on both sides of the aisle. Whether it be democrats or republicans, we need to get people to understand the work that we do because it’s a dangerous job.
Was there anything that surprised you about the interview process or how our union endorses political candidates?
The surprising part for me was that I could be part of the process and give my perspective as someone who’s not a union representative. I didn’t think I could be included and that obviously was not the case.
What do you think our political priorities should be ahead of this next legislative session, especially for DOC Teamsters?
We need to make sure we’re reaching out to both political parties. A lot of people on the eastern side of the state fall on the more conservative side. So extending a hand across the aisle to get other republicans to see the value of what the union does for workers is a good deal.
What impressed you about Skyler Rude? Why did you recommend endorsing him?
He realizes the benefit and value of having worker rights and protections. I was very impressed by that. He is not going to say something that he doesn’t believe in just to get votes. I appreciate that honesty. He seems willing to speak his mind, vote the way he thinks is right, not just along party lines.
What would you say to a member who might be interested in getting involved in our union’s political program?
Being a union member, a Teamster, you do have a say. You have a say in addressing politicians or issues with the contract. We would have much more power and leverage if more people got involved. That’s what I took away from this – I felt like I had a voice, that my vote counted.
This afternoon Arbitrator Joseph Duffy sent us his interest arbitration award outlining DOC Teamsters compensation for the 2019-2021 biennium. The award contains significant pay increases for all members of the bargaining unit.
According to the award, all Teamster correctional employees will receive no less than an 8% general wage increase over the next two years. The award calls for a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and a 4% increase effective July 1, 2020 for all classifications.
In addition, the arbitrator has awarded the following range increases:
|CLASSIFICATION||CURRENT RANGE||NEW RANGE|
|Warehouse Operator 1||29G||31G|
|Warehouse Operator 2||32G||34G|
|Warehouse Operator 3||36G||38G|
|Warehouse Operator 4||40G||42G|
|Ferry Operator Assistant||37E||39E|
|Corrections and Custody Officer 4||51||56|
|Corrections Mental Health Counselor 2||49||52|
|Corrections Mental Health Counselor 3||51||54|
|Sex Offender Treatment Specialist||55||57|
|Sex Offender Treatment Supervisor||59||61|
|Health Records Technician 1||44|
|Health Records Technician 2||49|
|Corrections Specialist Assistant||39|
|Corrections Specialist 4||61|
|Physician Assistant Certified – Lead||76N|
|Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner – Lead||74N||78N|
|Data Consultant 3||52|
|Corrections and Custody Officer 2||43||44|
|Corrections and Custody Officer 3||48||50|
|Classification Counselor 3||49||50|
|Fiscal Anaylst 4||52||54|
- Shift Premium for Nurses will now include CNA and MA classifications and is increased from $1.50 per hour to $2.50 per hour;
- Standby pay for overtime exempt Physician Assistant/Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant Certified/Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Lead, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Psychiatric Social Worker 3 or 4, Psychiatrist 4, Psychologist 3 or 4, or Psychology Associate increases from $50/day to $100/day and for all other overtime exempt from $25/day to $50/day;
- When a CDL certification, license, and physical exam are required for a chain bus position, the employer will reimburse the cost of the initial certification, license, and physical exam up to $3,800 when the employee successfully bids into a chain bus position. All renewal costs will be the responsibility of the employee;
- Honor guard will receive assignment pay on an hour for hour basis for every hour worked during an authorized team related assignment or training. The assignment pay is basic salary plus two (2) ranges and will be paid to trained and qualified employees who are assigned members of the Honor Guard.
With the arbitrator's award, we see once again the immense power of having interest arbitration in our contract. The arbitrator awarded double what the State’s final offer was in contract negotiations. For many classifications, it will be significantly higher than that.
Assuming the Office of Financial Management (OFM) deems the award financially feasible, it will be included in the Governor’s budget. At that point, the legislature must decide whether or not to fund our contract.
Getting our DOC contract funded will take members across the state talking to their representatives in Olympia about the challenges you face every day to keep the public safe. Your participation in next year's Teamsters Lobby Day will be crucial. We will be sending out details about the event soon.
Thank you to our incredible union committee that worked so hard during contract negotiations. They deserve enormous praise for their fortitude, hard work, and professionalism.
You can view the arbitrator’s complete award here.
Thank you for your service to our communities. Please stay safe.
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.
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.
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:
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.