Michael Berhea, shop steward at LAZ Parking, in front of the Pacific Place Mall garage after casting his vote.

If you have ever been to downtown Seattle, you would have seen the Pacific Place Mall. You would have gazed at elegant lines of its four floors, watched the expensive vitrines under the skylight and walked across its skybridge.

But you probably have never pushed one of its employee side doors. If you have, you would have left the glamour and natural lighting behind and plunged into the grey corridors of cracked concrete.

"When you have a union, you bargain on the same footing with management."

Michael Berhea has walked this Seattle mall’s underbelly for the past ten years as a parking attendant, and today he did so to cast a vote. Pacific Place Mall’s Parking operation has been shuffled between several different contractors in the past seven years. Michael and his fellow Teamsters working this parking garage have been bargaining for a contract with their newest employer, LAZ Parking, since November 2017.

They were able to keep almost all of the conditions they had with the previous employer. “We don’t have to pay for our own parking now,” shares Michael Berhea who is also a shop steward for his team. Together they were able to include wage increases and healthcare improvements into their agreement. The recommended contract was unanimously ratified.

Despite the frequent changes in management, Michael’s voice is devoid of uncertainty. “When you have a union, you bargain on an equal footing with the management,” he says. “This is just our first contract with LAZ Parking, and next year we are hoping to raise our wages to reflect costs of the city that we live in.”