When we fight, we win!

The 117 Wire

A Plan to Improve the Lives of Working People

Given the onslaught of attacks on labor, unions are far too often forced into a corner, dodging punches left and right – trying to avoid hitting the mat while the corporate bullies slander the ring with their anti-union rhetoric and jam-packed pocketbooks.  This forces unions into a reactionary position, trying to stave off the next blow.

One of the ways that Local 117 avoids getting trapped into this cycle of reactivity is by engaging in a comprehensive strategic planning process every three years. 

By making a concerted effort to plan for the future, we are able to set the tone for what’s to come by identifying short and long-term goals and building strategies for achieving those goals.  Some successes resulting from the previous plans have included, establishment of a local union strike fund, increased public sector organizing, insuring our financial stability, and expanding our visibility and public presence.  In sum, by setting our priorities and finding strategies for achieving our goals, we have been able to take a proactive approach to planning for the future and continue to improve our ability to advocate for working families.


Taxicab Operators Sue Uber for Violation of the Law

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Taxicab operators, who are members of the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association (WWTCOA), filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Monday, alleging that Uber is in violation of city, county, and state laws and regulations that govern the Puget Sound area’s personal transportation industry. 

“Uber is not playing by the rules like the rest of us are, and local, small business owners like myself and our families are suffering as a result,” said Parminder Cheema, a taxicab operator and elected member of the WWTCOA’s leadership council.  “The community is at risk as well.  If things don’t change, somebody might get hurt.”

According to the complaint, Uber is engaging in “an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”


Stewards Build Power at Annual Seminar

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Nothing says union power more than hundreds of Teamster Shop Stewards gathered together in one room chanting, "When we fight, we win!"  That's exactly what we heard on Saturday, as the voices of 275 Local 117 Stewards echoed through the halls of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle at our annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day.

Check out photos from the event here. Thank you to Erik Olsen of Seattle Cold Storage for contributing photos of the seminar.

Secretary-Treasurer Tracey Thompson kicked off the event by providing Stewards with an outline of our union's strategic plan and vision for the future:

We will lead the resurgence of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest.  That is our vision.  Your leadership as Stewards, your involvement in this Union, your commitment, your trust in me, all of that has allowed us to move forward to accomplish that vision. But 'a vision without action is merely a dream; action without vision just passes the time; vision with action changes the world.'  It is a privilege to represent you.  I am so proud of the work that you do for your Local Union.

Following Tracey, Lori Pfingst, our keynote speaker, the Research Director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, delved into one of the defining issues of our time, income inequality, and how we all must band together to restore fairness and equilibrium for working people.

Our General Counsel and Associate General Counsel, Spencer Thal and Daniel Swedlow, were brilliantly entertaining during a 'stump the attorneys' session at lunch, and the two break-out sessions on 'Right to Work' and 'Putting the Team Back in Teamsters' provided an opportunity to exchange best practices and prepare for legislative fights looming on the horizon.

Thank you to the tremendous work that our Shop Stewards perform every day.  You are the eyes and ears, the indispensable rank-and-file leaders who make Local 117 a great union that cares for and is committed to defending and expanding the rights of all working people.  We are grateful for your service.

For those who attended the seminar, it would be great to hear your reaction below. What did you like? What would you like to see more of next year? What can you take with you to your fellow members back in your shops?


Teamsters March for $15

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Members of Teamsters 117 joined hundreds of community members on Saturday to march for an increase of the minimum wage in the city of Seattle to $15/hr.

Special thanks to Erik Olsen, a Local 117 member at Seattle Cold Storage, for contributing many of the photos from the march.


Why a $15 Minimum Wage?

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Some Local 117 members have been questioning why labor and community groups are supporting a higher minimum wage.  It’s a question that needs to be addressed. 

$15.00 per hour buys less today than what the minimum wage bought in the late 1960’s.  In fact, some economists say that for today’s minimum wage to have the same buying power as it did 50 years ago it would need to be in the $22.00 to $26.00 an hour range.

The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.  Its buying power has eroded over time to where workers are having to go out and get two and sometimes three jobs just to pay the rent and make ends meet.


Local 117 Jeff Alfieri scholarship - apply now!

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Are you a member of Teamsters Local 117 and the parent of a high school-aged senior in need of money for college?

Teamsters Local 117 is now accepting applications for the 2014 Jeff Alfieri Scholarship. The Jeff Alfieri Scholarship of up to $2000 is awarded to outstanding students whose parents are members of the Local.

The deadline for scholarship application submissions is May 9, 2014.  View application materials below:

Scholarship flyer with guidelines for applying

Scholarship application

Scholarship application instructions

The founders of the scholarship fund, Ralph and Sue Alfieri, established the scholarship in memory of their son, Jeff Alfieri, a former Local 117 Business Representative.

If you are a Local 117 member seeking to further your own education, consider applying for your Union's Solidarity Scholarship.  


Secretary-Treasurer's Message: Teamster Power

Tracey-A.-Thompson.jpgBrothers and Sisters:

I recently spent two amazing days with over three hundred labor leaders, community activists, faith leaders and environmentalists from across the country. The Partnership for Working Families is a national network of regional advocacy leaders who are committed to working together for economic, racial and environmental justice. The Partnership provides a voice for working families, promoting policies that create quality jobs and thriving, healthy communities. 

It is not surprising that a significant focus of the two-day summit was civic engagement. Your Union has long understood that if we are to succeed in protecting the rights and improving the lives of our members and all working families in our region, we must actively engage our members in the political process, both locally and state-wide. 


117 is on the Winning Team

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“We take our little league seriously,” said Javier Solheim, a 17-year Teamster mill operator at GP Gypsum.  Javier’s son, Andrew, is 8-years old and plays baseball for the Rainiers, a team based in Lakewood.  Last year, the Rainiers were 12-0, and won a league championship.   


Teamster Talk #28 - This is Why We Fight

Teamster-Talk---Feb2014.jpgThe new issue of your Union's newsletter, Teamster Talk, is now available.  Teamster Talk is a bi-monthly newsletter that provides a closer look at some of the issues impacting members of Teamsters 117.  

In this issue, you'll find stories on a number of topics including:

  • Local 117's participation in the MLK Day march and rally;
  • A PERC ruling impacting members at DOC;
  • Our Farm to Family Rally;
  • Teamsters 117 Lobby Day;
  • Teamsters volunteering in the community;
  • A message from your Secretary-Treasurer, Tracey Thompson.

For print copies of Teamster Talk, talk to your Business Representative.


TAKE ACTION: Tell your State Senator in Olympia to pass Paid Sick Leave

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You shouldn’t have to choose between your health and your job. It seems straightforward enough, but every day workers in restaurants, child care centers, grocery stores, and offices across our state are faced with that very decision.

On Wednesday, January 29 the Washington State House of Representatives passed a bill (HB 1313) that would enable workers the right to earn paid sick leave.  This is great news for workers, but now the bill heads to the State Senate, where it faces stern opposition from legislators who want to deprive workers of this basic right.

Hundreds of thousands of workers in our state currently don't have the right to earn paid sick days.  That means they have to choose between going to work sick or not getting paid.  It means they have to lose a day's pay when they stay home to care for a sick child. Many workers are simply fired when they call in sick.

  • A widespread lack of paid sick leave poses public health risks;
  • Paid sick leave helps protect the victims of domestic violence;
  • Paid sick leave contributes to a strong economy;
  • Employers' experience with paid sick leave is generally positive.

TAKE ACTION NOW!  Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and tell your State Senator in Olympia to pass Paid Sick Leave legislation!  Everyone deserves the right to earn paid sick leave!