When we fight, we win!

Corrections & Law Enforcement

Lobby Day 2018: A great day for Teamsters in Olympia


Members of Teamsters 117 gather on the steps of the state capitol in Olympia for a Lobby Day rally.

It was an impressive sight - hundreds of Teamsters and their family members gathered on the steps of the legislative building in Olympia for our 2018 lobby day.

Bright yellow scarves with horseheads draped across members’ shoulders. Many held signs that read Honor Our Public Servants and Public Service, Public Safety.

Michelle Woodrow, our union’s president addressed the crowd: “Thank you for your outstanding service and for keeping our communities safe.” View photos from the event here.

Just a short time earlier, Local 117 members had clustered outside the doors of the Senate and House chambers requesting meetings with their legislators.

With a cutoff to pass bills looming, conversations had to be short and direct.

“We just met with Senator Sheldon,” said Sergeant Larry Reeves of the Washington Corrections Center. “He said he would be more than happy to support a bipartisan effort to see if we can get our staffing model audit funded.”

“This is wonderful,” said Fran Deel, a nurse at the Airway Heights Corrections Center who brought her three grandchildren to the event. “I’m here to make sure our rights are represented and to make sure our union has the power to negotiate.”

In addition to calling for an audit of DOC staffing levels, we urged legislators to pass bills that protect the privacy of public employees and give us a better opportunity to welcome new employees into the union. 

The day’s activities culminated with a rally on the capitol steps.  Newly-elected Teamster councilmember of the City of Burien, Pedro Olguin, fired up the group with a series of chants.

"We are the union. You are the union. We need to take the bull by the horns to fight off these attacks together."

Michelle Woodrow introduced the speakers starting with Representative Roger Goodman, the chair of the House Public Safety Committee. He was followed by three members: Officers Alfredo Cruz, Debra Gordon and Gerry Pinero.

Pinero, who made the trip to Olympia with his wife Angelic, talked about Teamster pride and the need to defend our union. “I started with the Teamsters in 1974 and have always been treated well by the Teamster family fighting for better benefits, better conditions, and better pay.”

“But senior Teamster staff can’t do it alone,” he said. “We are the union. You are the union. We need to take the bull by the horns to fight off these attacks together.”

John Scearcy, our union’s secretary-treasurer, echoed Pinero’s call for unity.  “When we stand together, we’re stronger. When we talk about our core values and find out where we align, we can move an agenda. This lobby day is a perfect example of us showing that when we’re committed to each other, we are strong and our voices will be heard.”


A lifeline for our corrections & law enforcement members


Our friends at Safe Call Now have sent over information about an important service available to members of Teamsters Local 117 working in the corrections and law enforcement field. 

The Institute for Responder Wellness 877-597-1136 have dedicated their lives to the health & wellness of first responders. They provide critical services to public safety employees struggling with issues that impact their personal and professional lives.

In an email asking us to promote the service, they write:

It is estimated that 20-35% of all First Responders struggle with PTSD and other mental and behavioral health issues. After seeing many responders fall victim to these statistics, we decided we couldn’t sit back and watch on the sidelines any longer. We’re happy to say that we created a program for first responders and these problems.

The Institute for Responder Wellness has established a comprehensive trauma based program specifically tailored to first responders and their family members with behavioral and mental health issues.

"Building partnerships and connecting our members to important resources is an important priority of our union," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "I hope members will make use of this service and seek assistance when needed."

For more information, please call 877-597-1136 or visit the Institute for Responder Wellness Facebook page.

With court case looming, MCC Teamsters are committing to each other


Members at the Monroe Correctional Complex gather at a union meeting last December to discuss keeping the union strong in an open shop environment.

Changes are coming in the public sector, and Teamsters across our union are getting ready.

The U.S. Supreme Court will be ruling on a case this spring that will almost certainly eliminate the freedom of public employees to negotiate union security clauses in their contracts. 

That means people will be able to abandon their union membership, but continue to receive all of the benefits without having to pay their fair share.

Teamsters across our union are pushing back. Members are talking to members about the importance of continuing to have a strong union in an open shop environment. Thousands of members have signed cards committing to each other and their union.

As Teamsters, we refuse to allow wealthy special interests like the so-called "Freedom" Foundation to defund our union and weaken our ability to stand together and negotiate strong contracts.

At the Monroe Correctional Complex, member leaders and staff are in the midst of a three-day blitz to inform members about the the rule changes.

On Thursday, the facility was buzzing with members talking about the value of a strong union. Over 100 members signed commitment cards on a single day.

One of those members was Shaun Watson. Watson is new on staff, but had previously worked as an officer in Missouri. "I came from a place that wasn't union," he said. "I tell people that if the union goes away, they're going to miss it when it's gone."

"We need to keep unions strong, for better wages, better health care, and to keep DOC honest."

Watson described poor conditions and a place where everyone was paid the same low rate no matter how long they had worked there. "It was sad," he said. "If you put in your time, you should be rewarded."

Both Paul Moore, an RN3 at MCC, and Kim Cook, an officer at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, took the day off to help with the outreach.

At shift change, Cook and Moore handed out information about the case. "We'll be swinging by later to talk with you about open shop," Cook said, as members headed toward their posts.

Doug Trudeau, an officer in the intensive management unit at MCC, is also helping out with the blitz. "Unions are getting hit hard," he said. "We need to stay strong, for better wages, better health care, and to keep DOC honest."

To sign in support of your union, talk to your shop steward or union representative, or visit www.FamilyStrengthCommunity.org.

DOC contract surveys mailed out for upcoming negotiations


Contract surveys are in the mail. Be sure to turn yours in by February 23.

Today we mailed out contract surveys to the home addresses of all Teamsters at the DOC. You should be receiving your survey in the mail in the next couple of days.

Please fill out your survey and deposit it in the designated dropbox at your facility. You can also give your completed survey to your Shop Steward or Union Representative.

Your survey should be returned by no later than Friday, February 23. If you have not received a survey by February 15, please contact your Shop Steward first, and if necessary, your Union Representative.

Filling out your contract survey is important. The survey gives you an opportunity to prioritize issues and voice your concerns. Your bargaining team will be using the survey results to develop proposals based on your feedback for upcoming contract negotiations.

Be sure to make your voice heard!

Local 117 launches member Leadership Academy


Members from the inaugural Teamsters Leadership Academy participate in a team building exercise on January 17.

Local 117 members from all corners of the state gathered at the union hall in Tukwila earlier this month for the inaugural class of our new Teamsters Leadership Academy.

The program is a central piece to one of our union’s key strategic priorities: to invest in member leadership and development.

“I’m incredibly excited to work with all of you,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117, as he welcomed the group.  “Our goal as Teamsters is to build unity and power for working families. You are on the forefront of helping realize that goal.”

"The sense of unity was wonderful."

In the first meeting, members discussed the qualities of effective leadership and reflected on the importance of leadership as it relates to working together as a team. They also engaged in a “problem tree” exercise where they identified and analyzed issues in the workplace.

Check out photos from the event here.

DOC Guardian: Are you ready for open shop?

The winter issue of the Guardian, our newsletter for Teamsters who work at the Department of Corrections, is now available!

In this issue, you'll find information on how to register for our upcoming Legislative Reception and Lobby Day on February 12-13, 2018 and an article on how members are starting to prepare for open shop, which is likely coming to DOC next year.

You can access a PDF of the Guardian online here. A number of member leaders will be distributing print copies over the next few weeks.

Make your voice heard in Olympia! Sign up for our 2018 Lobby Day



Some of the critical issues facing Teamsters that we will be discussing with legislators include:

  • The need for a comprehensive statewide staffing audit.
  • Improving staff safety at all DOC facilities.
  • Recognizing the critical community services we provide.

You can view a complete list of our legislative priorities here.

You are invited to a dinner and reception with legislators starting at 7:30pm at the RL Hotel in Olympia on February 12. Accommodations will be provided for all members on the night of February 12, 2018. You must register by Monday, January 15 to be guaranteed a room at the Hotel RL. You may still register after that date, but we cannot guarantee we will have the available rooms.

On the morning of February 13, we will have a lobby training and breakfast before heading over to the Capitol for our appointments with legislators. 

It's important that we have an excellent showing at this event as we talk with legislators about the critical services we provide.

Having the freedom to negotiate makes a difference


When workers have the freedom to stand together with their co-workers to negotiate, it makes a difference

That difference is reflected in higher pay, better better benefits, a safer workplace, and a voice on the job. 

On average, workers who are part of a union earn over $200 per week more than their non-union counterparts. They are much more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and a defined benefit retirement plan. 

But real freedom is about more that making a living. It's also about having the time to take your kids to the doctor, attend a parent-teacher conference, and retire in dignity.

We can't let wealthy special interests and corporate CEOs chip away at the freedoms people in unions have won for all of us.

We must protect our freedom to join together in strong unions so that we have the power in numbers to rewrite the rules for our families. Standing together, we can fight for our freedom to prosper.

We're hiring! Open position for DOC union representative


We are currently recruiting for a Union Representative position for the Department of Corrections. 

The successful applicant for this position will be assigned to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to, visiting worksites, building relationships with members, internal organizing, grievance handling and investigation, assistance in contract negotiations, Labor-Management meetings, steward training and supervision, conducting regional meetings in their assigned areas, and working as part of a team with other Local 117 Union Representatives.

If this interests you, please review the full job description that includes instructions on how to submit your cover letter and resume. The deadline to apply is close of business on November 20, 2017.

Thank you!

Michelle Woodrow
President and Director of Corrections & Law Enforcement

Our union team meets with State to bargain over Advanced Corrections Program


Our union’s bargaining with the DOC does not stop after the completion of contract negotiations. Throughout the year, we bargain with the State over a number of issues impacting your work.

In 2017, we have filed demands to bargain over newly-organized units, newly-created FTEs, the elimination of certain classifications, and many other issues.  

Most recently, a group of member leaders (LouAnn Anderson, Phillip Cook, John Dunn, Becky Haney-Nixon Venus Ortiz, Jessica Poston, and Shawn Piliponis), along with union representatives Tawny Humbert and Sarena Davis, met with the State to bargain over the Advanced Corrections Case Management program impacting classification counselors. 

Bargaining took place here at our Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila on Wednesday, October 24.

At the bargaining table, our member team and union representatives discussed the excessive workload demanded by the program and the emotional impact of the work. We passed our complete initial proposal and the State asked clarifying questions. We are in the process of scheduling further dates to continue discussions over the program.  

It’s important to remember that any time the DOC implements changes that may impact your wages, hours, or working conditions, they are required to enter into negotiations with the union. Failure to do so constitutes an Unfair Labor Practice.

Stay vigilant and report any such changes to your shop steward or union representative so that we can file a demand to bargain. This is your right as a Teamsters 117 member under your contract and under the law.

If you have questions about the recent bargaining over the Advanced Corrections program, please contact lead negotiators Tawny Humbert at tawny.humbert@teamsters117.org or Sarena Davis at sarena.davis@teamsters117.org.