Our interest arbitration team hard at work as hearing gets underway. From l to r: Danielle Franco-Malone, Michelle Woodrow, Eamon McCleery, and Sarena Davis.

Yesterday marked the first day of our interest arbitration hearing with the State.

We have five days of hearing scheduled with the arbitrator to present our case over the economic components of our 2021-2023 collective bargaining agreement. At the end of the process, the arbitrator will issue an award that will be sent to the legislature for final approval.

In setting the stage for our protected economic position, Michelle Woodrow, our Union's president, spent much of the day providing testimony. Her testimony focused on the history of the bargaining process at the DOC, the different classifications that are represented by Teamsters who work for the DOC and the extraordinary challenges you face in the workplace, especially during the pandemic. 

We will be asking for a number of economic improvements from the arbitrator. These include:

  • targeted range increases for 79 classifications;
  • a cost-of-living increase for both years of the contract;
  • a COVID recruitment and retention bonus;
  • the ability to access your Step M longevity pay after six years;
  • for the State to pay 100% of your Paid Family Leave premium; and
  • a reopener in case there is an emergency event like a pandemic.

Michelle was joined on the Union side by DOC Coordinator Sarena Davis, Teamsters Staff Attorney Eamon McCleery, and Danielle Franco-Malone, a labor attorney from an external law firm. Viewing the proceedings were members of our DOC negotiation team, who provided their reactions at the close of the first day.

"I'm shocked how the State feels about us," said Gregg Peterson, a CO2 at Stafford Creek. "We're on the front lines working through this pandemic, and they were trying to put the blame on the membership."

"It was frustrating to listen to them," added Corey Doty, a CS3 from Airway Heights. "The State didn't seem prepared, while Teamsters knocked it out of the park."

Today members on the committee will provide direct testimony to the arbitrator. We will also call on expert witness Dr. Suzanne Best to testify. Dr. Best is a licensed psychologist, who studies the mental, physical, and emotional toll that corrections work takes on individuals and their families.

We will continue to update you as the hearing progresses. Remember that vaccine negotiations will run concurrently with our interest arbitration hearing. The State has agreed to make evenings and weekends available so that we have time to negotiate.

You can view a short video recap of the first day of the interest arbitration hearing here.