Your Union’s legal team continued to build a strong case yesterday before the interest arbitrator on behalf of Teamsters at the Department of Corrections. 

The day started with your Union calling Mark Endresen, a former economic advisor for the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28.  In his testimony, Mr. Endresen analyzed the State budget and revenue trends as they relate to the Union’s economic proposal.  He also looked at the corrections’ budgets of several other Western states as compared to the State of Washington.

After a brief cross-examination by the State, your Union called its next witness – Sandra Conner, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane.  

Ms. Conner’s role was to testify about the requirements and expectations of overtime exempt employees when they are placed in on-call status. After describing the nature of on-call work, Ms. Conner talked about the woefully inadequate on-call pay for exempt job classifications at the DOC.  Currently, overtime exempt DOC employees receive on-call pay of just $25 per day.  This is particularly insulting given that contract employees at the DOC receive $125-$150 per day for on-call pay.  In addition to focusing on wages generally, one of your Union’s goals at the hearing is to increase on-call pay for eligible members.

In the afternoon, Michelle Woodrow, your Union’s Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement, testified.  Ms. Woodrow focused on the unique nature of corrections work, and how members are required to be on high alert throughout their shift.  She identified a prison premium and the need to bridge the pay differential between comparables as your Union’s most important priorities. 

“People shouldn’t have to contemplate:  Can I afford  to go to the doctor?  Do I need to work a second job?  Do I have to apply for public assistance because my salary is so low?  This problem needs to be corrected,” she said.

The hearing was originally expected to wrap up yesterday, with closing statements on Thursday.  The hearing continued this morning, however, as your Union legal team took the appropriate time needed to build an effective cross-examination of Scott Frakes and present additional responsive testimony by calling Director Woodrow and Business Representative Shannon Reeder.

We anticipate that Thursday will be the last day of the hearing with both sides presenting closing arguments.  The arbitrator understands that we need to have his award prior to the October 1 statutory deadline.  Some members have requested to see the final transcript of the hearing and we are working to see if we can make that available.

Thank you to Sandra Conner of AHCC for her participation in the process and for providing such excellent testimony.  We are fortunate to have outstanding Shop Stewards like Sandra who are willing to speak out in support of their fellow members.