Rahel Gebremariam has been a Teamster in the parking industry for over 13 years.
When Rahel Gebremariam realized how much she'd be getting, she got choked up.
"I got emotional," said Rahel, a Teamster at LAZ Parking. "I used to pay $280 for my medical, now I only pay $130 because of the Union."
The difference was due to a company payroll error discovered in bargaining by Director of Representation Paul Dascher and Union Rep Takele Gobena. Rahel's employer was quick to acknowledge the mistake and agreed to pay back the money they owed her - nearly five thousand dollars.
The unexpected windfall, together with a newly-negotiated contract that will bring members a 30% wage increase over three years, brought tears of joy for Rahel.
"It was crazy, I didn't expect it," she recalls. "I want to buy a house so this helps a lot."
Rahel isn't the only one at LAZ who is happy with the new union contract. Her co-worker, Addis Bayou, raved about the agreement. "It's a big deal for us," he said. "Before we were earning $17 something, and now we're close to $20/hr. That's a big difference."
Rahel, Addis, and their co-workers voted unanimously to ratify the new agreement on Saturday.
Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, congratulated the group on the groundbreaking contract. "Finding parking in Seattle is no easy task. Our members help make the process as convenient and hassle-free as possible," he said. "We appreciate an employer like LAZ Parking that will work with the union to provide wages and benefits that recognize the contributions of our members."
Both Addis and Rahel also complimented their employer, especially their supervisor, Aruwi Mohammed. "We feel supported," Rahel said. "When customers get upset, he takes our side."
Addis and Rahel say their Teamster job at LAZ Parking feels like family.
Last Saturday, Aruwi joined the small group of Teamsters for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle to celebrate their gains at the bargaining table.
"This place feels like family," Rahel said. "We like our boss, we're happy to be union, and we all respect each other."
Addis couldn't agree more. "When I go home and when I come to work, it's the same atmosphere," he said. "Just like family."
Teamsters at LAZ, together with family members, enjoy a night out to celebrate their new contract.
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