“Our goal is to lead the resurgence of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest,” said Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson as she laid out her vision for the future of Teamsters Local 117 at the 24th annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day.
“As Stewards, you are the backbone of this Union and will lead us to a better, more secure future for working families,” she said to the roughly 220 Stewards who attended the event on Saturday, March 10, at the Washington State Convention Center.
The theme of this year’s seminar was building leverage during contract campaigns.
IBT Western Region Vice President Steve Vairma praised the Local for its courage in past contract fights, and Local 117 General Counsel Spencer Thal spoke to the topic from a legal perspective.
Stewards attended three workshops over the course of the day.
Andy Banks, the Director of the IBT’s Department of Strategic Campaigns, gave a presentation on Local 117 and Local 174’s 2010 contract fight with Waste Management. Workers speaking out in the media helped lead to the ultimate success of the campaign, Banks said.
A distinguished panel of labor leaders, consisting of Jonathan Rosenblum (Working Washington), Paul Bachtel (ATU), Ray Goforth (SPEA), and Lynne Dodson (WSLC) discussed ways to gain leverage when bargaining in the public sector with state and local governments.
Karin Jones of the IBT’s Training and Development Department facilitated a workshop on the history of the Teamsters Union from its founding in the late 19th century. Members learned that throughout the history of our Union, Teamsters have fought not only for fair wages and benefits for working people, but have also been on the forefront in the fight for women’s and civil rights.
Lunchtime speaker, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Stephen Gonzales, spoke about the power of the vote and the need to elect experienced, competent judges to the bench.
Many members who attended the event provided video testimonials of their experience as Teamsters:
“It’s important to have the Teamsters in our workplace so that we are strongly represented and we have a voice,” said DOC Shop Steward of the year, Greg McCombs of the Coyote Ridge Correctional Center.
Linda Nelsen, a longtime Steward for King County’s professional and technical employees, said that this year’s seminar was the best she has ever attended. Nelsen is on the Union’s community sponsorship committee.
“We provide sponsorships for members doing good work in their community. In exchange for the sponsorship, they carry out the Teamsters’ message,” she said.
Kris Fish, a Steward at Kraft said, “I can sum up the Teamsters with one word: pride.”
Thanks again to all Local 117 Shop Stewards for your dedication, service and for all of the tremendous work that you do on behalf of your co-workers and on behalf of this great Union.