Washington State correctional employees, represented by Teamsters Local 117, have voted by an overwhelming margin to reject the State’s Last, Best, and Final proposal for their 2015-2017 collective bargaining agreement. 

Voting took place over a two-week period, which started on July 28 and ended on August 10, 2014. Members were able to cast their vote online or by telephone.  In total, 3099 members, or 55.64% of the bargaining unit, participated in the voting.  The final results of the vote are as follows:

  • 98.52% (3053) voted to reject the proposal
  • 1.48% (46) voted to accept the proposal

These are striking numbers.  They show that correctional employees are clearly fed up with the State continuing to undervalue their work. Teamsters at the DOC stand united with their bargaining committee in demanding a fair and equitable contract that recognizes the unique challenges of prison work and the dangerous nature of the job. 

The vote to reject the proposal means that there will be an interest arbitration hearing scheduled to begin on Monday, August 18.  The hearing will take place at the Teamsters Union hall in Tukwila and will last up to two weeks.  At the end of the process, the arbitrator – Howell Lankford – will issue an award designed to help settle mandatory subjects of bargaining that were unresolved in negotiations.

After the arbitrator issues his award, we need to be ready to take action.  All correctional employees will need to get involved in the political process to ensure that the Governor puts the award in his budget and that it is funded by the State legislature.  

Your Union has published a series of FAQs so that you can familiarize yourself with the interest arbitration process.  As the hearing gets underway, we will be sending you frequent updates.  Check your Union’s website or talk to your Business Representative or Bargaining Committee member for more information.

Thank you to the incredible work of your rank-and-file bargaining committee during negotiations and your excellent team of Shop Stewards who succeeded in attaining an historically high turnout with this vote.  Teamsters at the DOC have taken a strong, unified, and courageous stand for fairness and equity. 

Together we will continue to fight for what is right and for the respect you deserve.