When we fight, we win!

Private Sector


UNFI unprepared to negotiate over severance for laid off Teamsters

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UNFI/SuperValu negotiations committee is committed to protecting our members rights under their contract and under the Arbitrator's award.


UNFI arrived without their lead negotiator and unprepared to bargain with Teamsters Local 117 and Local 313 when they met with the Union on Thursday and Friday in Tukwila to discuss severance packages for Teamsters who are facing layoffs by the Company. As a result, the two-day negotiations session resulted in little progress.

In the last few weeks, more than 70 UNFI employees working at the Tacoma warehouse have been laid off with the remaining employees to be laid off over the next 30 days.

“UNFI is not interested in negotiating a quality severance package for the majority of our members and their families whose lives have been severely disrupted by the Company’s decision to relocate operations from Tacoma to Centralia,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We came ready to negotiate and we formally proposed to accept an offer the Company had made on October 1 without a single change – not even a comma – but the Company rejected their own proposal.”

The Union is consider filing additional charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over unlawful regressive bargaining tactics.

"UNFI is not interested in negotiating a reasonable severance package for the majority of our members."

UNFI is continuing to refuse to honor a neutral arbitrator’s decision to allow employees at the Company’s Tacoma warehouse to transfer to its Centralia facility with the same wages and terms and conditions that the Tacoma employees have been working under.

“Arbitrator Joseph Duffy ruled unequivocally for the Union in awarding full transfer rights to our members with the wages, benefits, and other protections,” Scearcy said. “His decision is legally sound and upholds contract language that the Company agreed to in negotiations. Not only did UNFI agree to the contract language enforced by Arbitrator Duffy, but it also agreed that arbitration decisions would be final and binding. We are confident that the courts will side with the Arbitrator and rule to make whole our members for any losses they may have incurred while they were unlawfully laid off.”

UNFI has a history of labor unrest with the Teamsters. In December 2012, members of Teamsters Local 117 employed at UNFI’s distribution center in Auburn entered into a 9-week strike over a number of alleged violations of federal labor law.

 


Tentative contract agreement reached with Safeway Dairy

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Shop Steward Andy Peterson served on the Union negotiations committee that achieved a settlement offer with Safeway Dairy.


Our Union negotiations committee has achieved a fully-recommended tentative agreement over a 3-year contract with Safeway Dairy/Ice Cream. Our Union team reached the agreement with Safeway in a negotiations session at our Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila on October 30 and 31.

A contract ratification vote will be held for Safeway Dairy Teamsters on Saturday, November 23 in Tukwila. The Union bargaining committee will unanimously recommend that the membership approve the settlement.

One of the central issues for the Union in negotiations was to ensure that the Company provided affordable health care benefits for retirees. Members voted unanimously to authorize a strike last month after the Company had refused to make an acceptable proposal on the issue.

"We appreciate the hard work of our Union negotiations team at having reached this tentative agreement," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "We are preparing the final contract documents and look forward to giving our members an opportunity to review and vote on the proposal."


Teamsters at the Safeway Dairy Plant Vote Unanimously to Authorize a Strike!

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Shop Steward Andy Peterson and his co-workers at the Safeway Dairy plant are ready to strike.


It's unanimous. Teamsters 117 members who work at the Safeway Dairy plant in Bellevue have voted to authorize a strike. Members took the strike authorization vote after a contract update meeting at our Teamsters Union hall in Tukwila on Sunday.

The vote comes after the employer made a number of substandard proposals in negotiations failing to recognize the hard work and sacrifices of their employees. Teamsters at the plant have worked hundreds of hours of overtime over the last year to help keep the facility operating and profitable.  

"A lot of people are really pissed off," said Matt Lewis, a 28-year employee and member of our union negotiations team. "We've all given so much to this company. We're here almost every weekend. A lot of us have doubled the number of hours we've worked.  We're giving everything we can to make sure this place is successful. And for management not to recognize that has been really hard on everybody."

"We're giving everything we can to make sure this place is successful."

One of the major sticking points in negotiations has been health care for retirees. Our members want to make sure retirees have access to affordable health care, while the company has been unwilling to provide it.

In the last negotiations session, the company admitted the reason for skimping on medical coverage for retirees: They don't want to provide decent benefits because they don't want to see their senior employees retire. This infuriated the union committee.

"It's a slap in the face," said Shop Steward Andy Petersen, who also serves on the Union negotiations committee. "A lot of guys are eligible to retire, but medical's a big part, and they can't afford it. If the company truly values their employees like they say they do, health care should be a top priority."

With negotiations scheduled for the end of the month, members are gearing up for a strike, if necessary.

"If the company isn't prepared to bargain an equitable contract, our members are ready to strike," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "These employees have made tremendous sacrifices to make sure the plant is profitable. The company needs to recognize that." 


Teamsters keep beating UNFI - this time will be no different

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UNFI Teamsters in Tacoma protest the company's failure to make timely health and welfare and retirement payments to the Trust. 


UNFI can't get rid of the Teamsters. As many times as the anti-union company has tried, we’re still here to protect our members.

Since 2012, UNFI lost a strike and two major arbitrations to our union. UNFI keeps striking out.

This week, UNFI suffered a huge defeat in arbitration. An Arbitrator rightly held UNFI was obligated to abide by the contract language it negotiated. 

Rather than honor our contract and the Arbitrator’s final and binding decision however, UNFI announced that they would appeal to federal court and attempt to set aside the well-reasoned Arbitration Award.

Our contract states:

The processing, disposition and/or settlement by and between the Union and the Employer of any grievance or other matter shall be absolute and final and binding on the Union and its members, the employee(s) involved and the Employer. Likewise, as to hearings and the final decisions of a Board or Arbitrator.

But UNFI has demonstrated over and over that it does not honor its commitments in negotiations.

With many employers, we wouldn’t have even arbitrated this case. Our contract with UNFI gives members the right to transfer and retain their wages and benefits in the event that the employer moves operations within the jurisdiction of our Joint Council. It states: 

In the event that the Employer moves an existing facility to any location within the jurisdiction of Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28, as currently defined excluding current facilities under the jurisdiction of and the service area of Teamsters Local Union No. 690, the terms of this contract shall continue to apply with respect to the new facility. 

Seems pretty clear.  So when UNFI announced they would be shutting down their Tacoma warehouse and moving to a new facility in Centralia, the reasonable assumption was that the company would uphold its end of the bargain, as our Union and members have for decades.

Instead, UNFI ignored the contract and said the terms and conditions of the Tacoma agreement would not apply to our members who transferred to Centralia, and even denied our members the opportunity to transfer to Centralia, thus creating uncertainty for over 300 union members and their families. Thanks to the excellent work of our legal team, we were able to fight the company in arbitration and win. 

This is not the first time our union has won an important victory against UNFI.

In July, UNFI employees in Tacoma walked out of the facility after the company was delinquent on health care and retirement payments that the company had agreed to in negotiations. Teamsters did not return to work until the union confirmed that UNFI had made the payment.

In 2016, the company had to cough up 50k for its failure to appropriately compensate employees who had worked in excess of 40 hours a week.

These victories can be attributed to a unified membership, strong contracts, and strong leadership. Under the direction of John Scearcy and Tracey Thompson before him, Local 117 has fought the anti-worker practices of UNFI, and we have have won.

This time will be no different. We will take on UNFI and we will win.

 


Arbitrator rules in favor of Teamsters in UNFI relocation case

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UNFI Teamsters in Tacoma protest the company's failure to make timely health and welfare and retirement payments to the Trust. 


Teamsters at UNFI’s warehouse in Tacoma celebrated yesterday after an arbitrator ruled that union members shall be allowed to transfer to Centralia under the same terms and conditions that they have in Tacoma. The arbitrator also awarded transfer rights and back pay to any employees who are facing layoffs, which are scheduled to start at the facility later this week.

“I’m prouder to be a Teamster now than I’ve ever been in 30 years,” said Greg Wiest, a shop steward and forklift driver at the facility. “This is not only big for us, but it’s big for the entire labor movement. The talk in the warehouse since the decision is that a lot of us will be going down to Centralia. We’re pretty excited – morale’s way up today. Now we know that we have a job.”

"I’m prouder to be a Teamster now than I’ve ever been in 30 years."

Earlier in the year, UNFI announced that it would be shutting down the Tacoma warehouse and moving operations to a new facility in Centralia. The union filed a grievance after UNFI refused to honor clear contract language that laid out the terms and conditions of the move. The contract states: “…all employees working under the terms of this agreement at the old facility shall be afforded the opportunity to work at the new facility under the same terms and conditions and without any loss of seniority or other contractual rights or benefits.”


Massachusetts Teamsters on strike at Republic Services extend picket lines to Seattle

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Teamsters from Local 25 in Massachusetts on strike at Republic Services have extended picket lines to multiple locations across the Puget Sound region. Our members who work at Republic are standing in solidarity with the striking workers and honoring their picket line.

Read more from our Teamsters International Union below:

Massachusetts Teamsters on strike at Republic Services extend picket lines to Seattle

Sanitation workers on strike at Republic Services in Marshfield, Mass., extended their picket line to Seattle this morning. Approximately 250 Republic Services/Allied Waste workers throughout the Puget Sound area—members of Teamsters Local 38, Local 117, Local 174 and Local 763—exercised their right to honor the picket line.

The striking workers, members of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, began their strike on August 29 after Republic refused to agree to a contract with a livable wage and affordable health care. On average, the striking sanitation workers are paid 40 percent below what it takes to make a living wage in Massachusetts for a family with one adult and one child, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator. 

“Republic Services set a record last year with almost $3 billion in profits,” said striking Republic employee Bernie Egan-Mullen. “But instead of providing safe working conditions and industry-standard health care and retirement plans, the company is using its record profits to pay out huge salaries to its executives and huge dividends to its shareholders.” 

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is Republic Services’ biggest shareholder. His personal investment manager, Michael Larson, sits on Republic’s Board of Directors. 

“That’s why we’re here in Seattle,” Egan-Mullen said. “Bill Gates gets over $100 million in stock dividends alone from Republic each year, yet meanwhile we are on the picket line for a living wage. “Sanitation work is the fifth-most dangerous job in America. Sanitation workers are two times as likely to die on the job as police officers and nearly seven times more likely to die on the job than firefighters,” said Sean O’Brien, President of Teamsters Local 25 and Teamsters International Vice President.

“This company has forced quite a few strikes in cities across  America over the past few years, when it has violated federal labor laws and has refused to address conditions of inequality and unsafe conditions.” 

The Teamsters represent over 7,000 Republic Services workers across the country. Recently, hundreds of Republic sanitation workers in Northern and Southern California represented by Teamsters Local 350 and 396 voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the company. 

Last month, Republic sanitation workers represented by Teamsters Local 728 went on strike in Cumming, Georgia, to protest the company's violations of federal laws that protect workers' rights. 

Recent calculations show that workers in 10 cities with a combined population of over 1 million residents are currently in contract negotiations with Republic Services, and that Teamsters in 31 cities with a combined population of over 6 million residents have the right to honor picket lines. 

Media Contact:
Sean Martin
617-756-7474  

 


Uber and Lyft drivers speak out in support of 'Fare Share' priorities

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At a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday, Uber and Lyft drivers urged the Seattle City Council to support their ‘Fare Share’ priorities to establish a minimum pay standard with driver input, combat unwarranted deactivations, and fund driver support services and other community investments through a 51 cent tax on the ride-hail giants.

At the event, drivers shared stories of how declining pay, a lack of basic labor protections, and sudden deactivation without recourse has impacted their livelihoods.  

“Since I started driving for Uber, my pay has been cut in half," said Sukhchain Banwait who started driving for Uber in 2013. "But while driver pay has gone down, Uber charges my customers more and more and pockets the difference. I'm glad the City is looking at establishing a fair minimum pay standard to stop the race to the bottom in driver pay." 

"I'm glad the City is looking at establishing a fair minimum pay standard to stop the race to the bottom in driver pay."

According to the Federal Reserve, 58% of gig economy workers cannot afford a $400 emergency expense. This means that thousands of drivers in Seattle are one vehicle repair away from an economic crisis. Drivers are especially vulnerable when they can be wrongly terminated by Uber and Lyft without recourse.

“Many drivers are suffering from unfair deactivations, leaving us with expensive car payments but without income to support our families,” said Mohamed Aria, one of the first Uber drivers in Seattle.  “Drivers are the ones who built this business, and we deserve to be treated fairly.”

Speaking in support of the drivers’ priorities, City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda highlighted the need for an impartial process for drivers to appeal unfair deactivations. “I’ve heard from countless drivers who have been unjustly deactivated,” Councilmember Mosqueda said. "When you have a job, particularly a job that requires tens of thousands of dollars of investment, asking for a fair process for adjudicating deactivations is a necessary first step.”


Seattle drivers support proposal to raise pay and address unwarranted deactivations

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Seattle Uber and Lyft drivers responded favorably to a proposal put forth by Mayor Jenny Durkan today to raise driver pay and allow drivers to appeal unwarranted deactivations. The Mayor’s plan would engage the driver community in developing a fair pay standard. It would also give drivers who have been terminated from a TNC platform access to a hearing with representation before an appeals panel.

“Drivers should not be fired by an algorithm without recourse,” said Mohamed Aria, who was one of the first Uber drivers in the Seattle market. “I helped Uber build their business, even referring my own customers. But after 6 years of high ratings and maximum customer satisfaction, I was deactivated without reason. It has been a year now since I lost the ability to work and support my family. The Uber staff at the local office have no answers. I applaud the Mayor for putting labor standards for drivers – including accountability and the right to appeal unfair deactivations – back on the city’s agenda.”

Mayor Durkan announced the proposal at a press conference at the Yesler Community Center on Thursday along with a plan to implement a fee on all TNC trips in the city. Revenue from the proposed fee would fund investments in driver support services, and community investments in affordable housing and transit improvements.

"We’re not going to stop organizing until we earn a living wage."

“All Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle: we are here today, seeing progress, because drivers have been organizing and fighting back,” said Peter Kuel, a Lyft driver for over 5 years and steering committee member of the App-Based Drivers Association, which is affiliated with Teamsters 117. “As drivers, we bear all of the expenses of operation and all of the risks on the road, and we’re not going to stop organizing until we earn a living wage.”

According to the Federal Reserve, 58% of gig economy workers cannot afford a $400 emergency expense. This means that thousands of drivers in Seattle are one vehicle repair away from an economic crisis. Seattle’s more than 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers – many of whom are immigrants and people of color for whom driving is their only source of income – lack minimum wage protections or paid sick leave and other worker benefits.

“Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle provide important transportation services to our community and should earn a living wage,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. “Drivers are looking forward to participating in a wage study to provide real data to study leaders so that drivers are compensated for their expenses, can afford benefits, and are paid fairly.”


Praxair Teamsters gear up for possible strike

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Praxair Teamsters in Tacoma are ready to fight to defend their livelihoods.


The streets of Tacoma were a little louder early this morning. Starting at 3 a.m., a few dozen Teamsters, drivers and production workers employed at Praxair, took their fight for a fair contract to their employer's front door.

"Praxair, Praxair you can't hide - we can see your greedy side!" the group chanted as they circled outside the two entrances of the company's gated distribution facility. With Just Practicing signs slung across their shoulders, members are gearing up for a possible strike at the company. Many expressed frustration at their employer's substandard proposals in negotiations.

"We're ready to strike if necessary."

"The company is stalling and trying to take things away from us that they should be paying for - good medical, holiday pay, and a secure retirement," said Ric Shuttleworth, a 29-year production filler and shop steward on our union negotiations committee. "We're ready to strike if necessary."

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Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy gathers up signs after "Just Practicing" picketing action.


Shuttleworth's counterpart on our union team is Brian Bruton. Bruton spends his day hauling heavy containers of industrial gasses to Seattle-area hospitals. For Bruton, one of the company's most insulting proposals is their attempt to use Washington State's new sick leave law as an excuse to strip away his co-workers' holiday pay. 

"I think it's completely unfair," he says.  "We're not asking for the moon - we just want fair wages, good union medical, and we're not going to give up our holiday."

After several rounds of negotiations and a unanimous strike authorization vote, the group will be heading into federal mediation tomorrow looking to secure just that.

UNFI TEAMSTERS STAND IN SOLIDARITY

Joining in solidarity with the Praxair picketers were several Local 117 members from UNFI's Supervalu warehouse just a stone's throw away. With UNFI implementing layoffs and relocating its Tacoma and Auburn facilities, members there know firsthand the challenges of working for an employer that puts shareholder profits above their workforce.  

"We're coming out here to support our brothers and sisters," said UNFI steward Darren Sorrell. Fellow steward Greg Wiest added, "We're going through a labor dispute too, so we know what they're feeling like."

The two pledged to bring reinforcements if mediation fails. "Our members - both at Praxair and UNFI - know what it takes to win back respect from an employer intent on maximizing profits at all costs," said Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy, who led the group in chants this morning. "We're prepared to fight, and the great thing about our union is that we have each others' backs."  

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UNFI stewards Greg Wiest and Darren Sorrell rise early to support their fellow Teamsters.


Workers win $686,000 in backpay from Republic Services sub-contractor Leadpoint

Margarita Martinez fought to win a massive settlement for her co-workers at Leadpoint/Republic.


At the Republic Services recycling depot in downtown Seattle, members of Teamsters 117 process thousands of tons of paper, metals, and plastics daily. Trucks snake into the 3rd and Lander facility to dump their loads, which our members bulldoze and bundle for rail transport to locations across the West.

An essential part of the work requires careful sorting of the materials. Republic subcontractor, Leadpoint, employs hundreds at the Seattle facility to perform this work. This painstaking, dirty, and dangerous job has resulted in serious industrial accidents. In 2015, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries fined Leadpoint $77,600 for serious safety violations at its Material Recovery Center in Vancouver, WA.

In 2016, our union discovered something else: Leadpoint was treating its Seattle employees like garbage, and Republic Services was complicit in the abuse. Workers were locked out of bathrooms, forced to change into their gear in the parking lot, and paid below Seattle’s minimum wage standards. Leadpoint employees who tried to organize a union were subjected to harassment and intimidation.

Margarita Martinez was one of those workers. An ardent union supporter, Martinez was sent home by company management without pay on several occasions. Neither Leadpoint nor Republic could offer a good explanation for the discipline.