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Updated On: Sep 06, 2012

Where do your elected officials stand on critical issues? Do they support interest arbitration rights for correctional employees and their co-workers? Are they in favor of making health care more affordable for you and your family? Will they defend your collective bargaining rights should they come under attack?

If you don’t know the answer to these basic questions, it’s time to start paying attention and getting involved.

“We need to know where these candidates stand on issues like staff safety, public safety, and whether they support working men and women,” said Sgt. Brad Waddell of MCC. “Change will not come unless we educate our representatives and advocate for the right policies.”

Waddell, along with Local 117’s legislative affairs duo of Teresita Torres and Lily Wilson-Codega, helped organize a recent candidates’ forum for DOC Teamsters in Snohomish County designed to do just that. Held at an elementary school auditorium in Monroe on Tuesday, July 31, the event drew dozens of correctional workers who showed up to listen to an impressive array of candidates.

Eight State Representatives were on hand, two State Senators, a City Mayor, and one of the leading candidates for a seat in the United States Congress.

Michelle Woodrow, Local 117’s new Acting Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement, moderated the forum, which kicked off with a “lightning round” of yes/no questions presented to the candidates by Sgt. Waddell.

Had the candidates ever been a Union member? Waddell asked. Would they stand with correctional employees in an informational picket? Would they work in a prison at age 65 having to fight with offenders in their 20s? Would they support legislation allowing Correctional Officers and Sergeants with 25 years or more of State service to retire at age 55 the same as the State Patrol?

The warm-up questions helped pave the way for a deeper discussion of the issues. RN Terry Hutchins asked the candidates for their position on revenue and the impacts on the DOC; Sgt. Michael Boe questioned the candidates on collective bargaining rights; while Officer Tami Mac Avoy asked about custody overrides and early release.

 “We are an important part of the criminal justice system but we are treated like second-class citizens,” said Sgt. Carl Beatty, as he led off a question about interest arbitration. “My employer puts more effort in the offenders we care for than the staff that keeps our communities safe.”

In the end, ten candidates pledged to support interest arbitration rights for correctional employees in the coming legislative session. Woodrow concluded the event by thanking the candidates and recognizing Sgt. Waddell for his hard work in planning the event and the many off-shift hours he spent walking the tiers at MCC to recruit his co-workers.

The Snohomish County political forum was one of many such events organized by Teamsters Local 117 prior to the 2012 election. Political forums have also taken place in King and Pierce counties.

May 28, 2013

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