We were back at the bargaining table with the State on June 9 and 10 to negotiate over the terms and conditions our 2017-2019 DOC contract.

In the June 9 session, our Union bargaining team was frustrated by the State’s responses to some of our proposals.

In particular, we were disappointed at how the State is resisting our call for a Correctional Employees Bill of Rights. The idea behind the proposal is that DOC employees should be afforded certain fundamental rights.

As an example, we believe the Department should inform an employee in writing of the nature of investigations and whether the employee is a witness or subject of the investigation. Several other basic rights are included in the proposal.

“It’s an empowering document for us, but they are trying to minimize its importance,” said Jon Gortmaker, a Shop Steward at the Maple Lane Pharmacy.

The State also presented proposals related to uniforms, bidding rights, specialized units, and discipline.  The State’s proposal with respect to specialized units was particularly troubling.  They are calling for the expansion of specialized units instead of providing  training for staff to enhance their ability to deal with situations that arise in those areas.

We are looking closely at all of those proposals.  Rest assured, we will be vigilant in protecting your rights when it comes to those issues.

All of our discussions so far have dealt with language in our contract.  No economic issues have been discussed.  We anticipate that we will have all of our language issues on the table by  the end of the next two bargaining sessions and then begin to focus on economics.

The schedule for upcoming negotiations is as follows: June 20-21 (Olympia), July 7-8 (Teamster Headquarters) and July 19 and 20 (TBD).  If needed, mediation is scheduled for August 2, and we have tentatively scheduled an interest arbitration hearing for August 29-Sept. 2.

If you have questions, talk to your bargaining committee members or your Business Representative.  On our Teamsters Facebook page, you can view short videos on negotiations from two members of our Union bargaining team:  Sgt. Larry Reeves of WCC and Sgt. James Palmer of MCC. 

Thank you for your service – please stay safe.