Yesterday at the interest arbitration hearing for Teamsters at the DOC, Arbitrator Lankford heard persuasive testimony from Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, Tracey A. Thompson. 

Thompson talked about the critical role correctional employees play in keeping our communities safe.  She described corrections work as uniquely challenging, stressful, and dangerous in ways that most people cannot comprehend.

Secretary-Treasurer Thompson also talked about the importance of the interest arbitration process itself.  Interest arbitration rights were gained by the Union for the current contract cycle, she said, in part because the State had bargained in bad faith.  In the 2013-2015 negotiations, the State violated labor law when it engaged in pattern bargaining and blocked the Union from achieving equity and fairness for its members.

Washington State correctional employees are appreciative that they have access to interest arbitration now, Thompson added.  They are hopeful that after hearing all of the evidence, the arbitrator will recognize the critical nature of their work and assess a fair value to their work that compares with the men and women performing corrections work in other jurisdictions.

Secretary-Treasurer Thompson testified late yesterday afternoon.  Prior to her testimony, the State called four witnesses – labor negotiators Angela Roberts and Ann Mitchell, as well as two individuals from OFM’s classification and compensation division.  Your Union’s legal team had the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.

Today your Union presented its case to the arbitrator.  We began the day by showing a video of DOC members talking about the dangerous nature of their work and the impact that corrections’ work has on their personal lives.  The video was created by your Union’s communications department in partnership with a professional video production team.

The purpose of the video is to make sure the arbitrator clearly understands the challenges you face every day and how the work environment can affect you and your family. We will be screening the video again at our fall membership meeting on September 18.  All members of Teamsters Local 117 are encouraged to attend so that they can begin to understand what it means to work in a prison.

Look for more news on today's testimony coming soon.