Teamsters of Humane Society bargaining team recognized at Teamsters membership meeting .
An estimated 10 million dogs are lost every year. When brought into shelters, they frequently exhibit aggressive and defensive behaviors. It is up to shelter employees like kennel aide Alexander Yeatman to care for them and put them at ease. At the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, Yeatman does the dangerous and dirty labor of cleaning the kennels, yet he wouldn’t trade his job for any other.
When the animals come in, apprehensive and sometimes injured, it is his passion to help them get their confidence back, gain healthy weight, and show their true characters. Yet the management can too easily dismiss Alex’s voice and assessment in observing the animals. “Pets score on a behavioral test a certain way when they come in, but they behave very differently once they get accustomed to the kennel. I need my voice to be heard so that I can advocate for the animals I care for,” he said.
"Now we are able to speak up for the animals and get the equipment we need to provide adequate care. We are not afraid of retaliation anymore."
Last year, Alex decided to change that. He played an essential role in organizing the kennel aides, and now he is a shop steward and a Teamster. “It used to be like walking on eggshells, so by unionizing I wanted us to be recognized as a vital part of the organization. We’re not just poop picker-uppers. I wanted to show the employer that this position should be valued,” stated Alex.
Our union bargaining team meets at the Tukwila hall during contract negotiations with Sysco.
Great news for Teamsters in the food service industry! This weekend our members at Sysco voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new 3-year contract. The agreement provides annual wage increases, retirement security, and affordable health care for over 200 Local 117 members and their families.
“Our negotiations committee worked incredibly hard to achieve this agreement,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117 and the lead negotiator for the union. “Together with last year’s contract at US Foods, this agreement sets the standard for food service contracts across the country.”
Getting to a deal was far from easy. Sysco is a massive multinational food service conglomerate, the largest broadline food distributor in the world. The company has made life difficult for Teamsters in other parts of the country.
Earlier this year, Local 117 members showed solidarity with Teamsters in Oklahoma where the company fired several shop stewards. In Missouri, Sysco employees established an unfair labor practice picket line at the end of 2017 to protest alleged violations of federal labor law.
Here in the Northwest, the group’s unity and resolve helped beat back proposed concessions at the bargaining table. The group sent a powerful message to the company when they voted unanimously to authorize a strike several weeks ago.
“We went into these negotiations with clear goals and expectations,” said Rowan Griffin, a shop steward on our union bargaining team. “John Scearcy’s skills as a negotiator are undeniable. We are lucky to have such strong leadership in our union.”
"We were successful because we have strong leadership and solid member participation."
Will Buff, a rank-and-file veteran of several Sysco negotiations, reiterated that point. “We were successful because we have strong leadership and solid member participation. There was trust between our negotiations team and our union’s leadership like never before.”
“Our members take pride in their work and know their value,” Scearcy said. “They stuck together and fought to win a contract that reflects the important service they provide to families who rely on meals at hospitals, schools, daycare centers, and nursing homes across our region.”
Union officials, representatives, and members from around the West gathered to learn more about the power of the Teamsters pension plan.
It’s one of the most secure, well-funded defined benefit pension plans in the country. The Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan, commonly known as the Teamsters pension, provides retirement security to over 200,000 active participants in 13 Western states.
Last week, representatives of the pension, including plan trustees, provided a day-long training for Local Union officers, representatives, and rank-and-file leaders from across the West. The goal was to familiarize the group with resources, better assist members, and succeed in negotiations.
The agenda delved into the history of the plan, an overview of the plan’s website, field support, effective bargaining techniques, and the advantages of the plan as compared to a 401(k).
Matt Collins, a shop steward at Fred Meyer, was one of the Local 117 members in attendance. “I was able to get critical information about the pension that will help me better serve my fellow Teamster brothers and sisters,” he said.
"I was able to get critical information about the pension that I can take back to the shop floor..."
Another member who joined in was Anthony McKinney, a shop steward at SuperValu. McKinney, together with fellow bargaining committee members, just finished negotiating pension increases in their contract.
“It’s important to get information out to the younger generation,” he said. “There is an information gap with people who only see the now-factor of life and may not be thinking about the future of their families. I will bring this back to my facility and become an advocate to make sure that all of us fully understand how important it is to keep the pension rates going up from contract to contract.”
James Borsum, who joined our Local's rep staff last year, said he was grateful for the training as well: “I get a lot of questions on the shop floor about how our pension compares with other pension plans. Fortunately, I can report back to our members that our pension is in great shape and what we need to do to keep it strong for the future.”
The Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan is managed by a Board of Trustees and administered by Northwest Administrators. If you want information about your estimated benefit under the plan, you can set up a personal pension appointment by calling Diana McDowell at 206-441-7470. To set up a pension meeting for you and your co-workers, talk to your union representative.
Van's co-workers at Swire Coca Cola show their support.
Inside the Coke warehouse, everyone knows Van Huynh. Van is an outstanding shop steward who does not tolerate any injustice towards his co-workers.
But Van is more than that. He is a survivor of Viet Cong atrocities. When his family immigrated to the U.S., he dealt with debilitating disease, the loss of his sister, and poverty. Working hard despite all odds, Van provided for his family, including a handicapped parent, and today his kids are on the way to college. Van is the stuff American dreams are made of.
Evidently this means nothing to Van’s employer. Earlier this month, Swire Coca-Cola, forced him to accept what they are deceptively calling a “voluntary resignation.” Instead of granting him a leave of absence as Van had requested, the company took advantage of long immigration backlogs to terminate him.
A representative of the Department of Justice (DOJ) contacted Coke management to inform them that the termination was unnecessary. Nevertheless, Coke ignored the advice of the DOJ and moved ahead with the “voluntary resignation.”
Early this morning, Van’s co-workers at Swire Coca-Cola wore solidarity stickers and signed a petition in support of the eight-year Local 117 member.
In the petition, members are demanding that Coke grant Van an immediate leave of absence so that he can return to work as soon as his paperwork is processed. The petition goes on to say:
Van has been a Shop Steward for two years and has worked aggressively to enforce our contract at Coke and protect members’ rights under the contract. He is also a graduate of our Teamster Leadership Academy and authored a powerful story about how the union has positively impacted his life.
“Van is an inspiration to members across our union,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We will fight to protect his rights under the contract and under the law and will hold Coke accountable for retaliation of any kind for Van's involvement in the union.”
Teamsters Local 117 is demanding justice for dairy workers who are facing harassment, retaliation, and other abuses on the farms that supply Darigold milk. Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, will join farm workers and elected, community, faith, and labor leaders to speak out in support of the workers, who will begin a 5-day reconciliation fast starting on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Darigold Dozen and called on Darigold to take immediate steps to improve working conditions at Darigold-member dairies.
“We applaud the City Council for taking action in support of dairy workers,” Scearcy said. “Workers have the right to a safe workplace free from harassment and discrimination no matter if they work on the farms, in the stores, or in the plants that process Darigold milk.”
Teamsters Local 117 represents 250 production workers at Darigold’s processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah. Workers at the Issaquah plant make butter, sour cream, and cottage cheese, while workers in Seattle process hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk every year, supplying Costco, Walmart, and other grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Port of Seattle bus driver Tambra Fontes shows off her union solidarity band.
You’ll see them on the wrists of bus drivers circling around Sea-Tac Airport – white bands bearing a message of unity and strength. The bands read: We decide how strong our union will be. When drivers pass each other on their routes, they raise their fists as a show of union pride.
Local 117 member Tambra Fontes got the idea for the wristbands, together with shop steward Monica Petty. “We were trying to unify all of us drivers and get us to become one,” Tambra said.
Tambra hails from a strong union family. Her father worked for the postal service, where he was a shop steward for his union. Her husband, Josh Hoopes, is a Local 117 member at Animal Supply. “Getting this job was everything for me,” she said. “Being Teamsters is exactly what my dad wanted for me. It felt like our future was set – you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
"It felt like our future was set – you couldn’t ask for anything more."
Tambra and Monica have been teaming up to alert their co-workers about the potential impact of the Janus court case. They’ve talked about the importance of sticking with the union.
Their call for solidarity has been effective as nearly all Port of Seattle bus drivers have signed cards committing to the union. “When we stand together, our freedom, power and unity cannot be taken from us,” Monica says.
Getting people signed up on commitment cards was essential, but the two women also wanted a symbol that matched the message. “Being a driver, it’s kind of hard for all of us to connect,” Tambra said. “The wristbands are something that we can wear to let everybody know we’re all one.”
With contract negotiations coming up next year sustaining that unity will be key. The drivers have already shown that no court case or external group can weaken their voice on the job. Tambra and Monica have decided that they want to keep their union strong. And because of members like them, it is.
Sysco Teamsters in front of our union hall in Tukwila after the strike authorization vote.
There was not a single no vote in the house. All Teamster drivers and warehouse workers who packed the union hall for the Sysco meeting on Saturday cast their vote to authorize a strike.
The unanimous strike vote sends a clear message to the company that the group is not backing down in their fight for fairness.
The company came into negotiations with a substandard proposal across the board and have taken some actions that we are investigating as potential violations of federal labor law.
“Teamsters at Sysco in Seattle are prepared to strike for fair treatment and to protect their livelihoods,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117 and the lead negotiator for the union. “Our members work incredibly hard to supply safe food service products to schools, restaurants, and hospitals across our region. The company needs to recognize them for their labor.”
Negotiations between Sysco and our union got underway in July, with the contract set to expire on September 1. No extension agreement has been signed.
In other parts of the country, Sysco has been trampling on the rights of workers. In recent months, Local 117 members have participated in Days of Action to show solidarity with Teamsters in Oklahoma where the company has fired multiple shop stewards and tried to break the union. Late last year, Sysco Teamsters in Missouri established an unfair labor practice picket line to protest alleged violations of federal labor law.
We are hopeful that when Sysco returns to the negotiations table, they will bargain in good faith. We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information.
Our union team gathers on the first day of contract negotiations with SuperValu.
Over the weekend, Teamsters who work in SuperValu’s grocery warehouse in Tacoma voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract. The contract provides annual wage increases, excellent health and welfare coverage, and retirement security for over 200 members of Local 117 and their families.
“One of the highlights for me was ensuring full maintenance of our medical benefits,” said Anthony McKinney, a shop steward who served on our union’s negotiations committee. “A lot of my co-workers are on their way to having children. They’ll see the incredible benefit of keeping this medical coverage in our contract.”
"They’ll see the incredible benefit of keeping this medical coverage..."
The agreement maintains industry standards and aligns with other Teamster grocery contracts, including those at Safeway and Fred Meyer. This is a major accomplishment given the dramatic changes and consolidation in the industry.
A little over a year ago, SuperValu purchased Unified Grocers for $390 million. Teamsters who had worked in Unified’s Seattle warehouse moved down to the SuperValu facility in Tacoma.
Matt Komperda has been a union member his entire adult life and a shop steward on and off for eleven years. Now he’s using that wealth of experience to work as a Union Representative for Teamsters 117.
Matt has been immersed in rep work at the Local since early June to help with coverage in the grocery industry. As a permanent staff member, he’ll be representing members in a broad jurisdiction of private sector shops in King and Pierce counties.
Matt got an early introduction to union jobs. In High School, he worked at a Safeway store in Gig Harbor, where he joined the United Food and Commercial Workers. Just four days after graduation, he got hired on at company’s distribution center in Auburn. That’s when he launched his career as a Teamster.
“I thought it was just going to be a summer job,” he said. “I ended up staying there for 18 years.”
Matt was recruited as a Shop Steward by former Teamster Rep Tom Gallwas, who recognized Matt’s leadership on the shop floor and his keen knowledge of the Safeway contract.
"I learned attention to detail and the power of having a voice..."
During his tenure as a shop steward, Matt handled grievance meetings, participated on the union’s negotiations team, and attended lobby day events in Olympia. He also was part of a group of member leaders who met to give input on our union’s strategic plan.
“I learned attention to detail, the power of having a voice, and the importance of knowing our Teamsters history,” he said.
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy is excited to have Matt onboard. “Matt has been a strong member leader in the grocery industry for many years. It’s a pleasure to welcome him to our staff, and I wish him all the best as he moves into a new stage of his Teamster career.”
Members of the bargaining committee in front of Teamsters Tukwila Hall.
Teamster members of Local 117 will not be disrespected. It was just the second day of bargaining with Sysco when the company proposed eliminating restrictions on the amount of overtime they can force our members to work and restricting access to vacation time during the summer months.
"We are not prepared to make any concessions. Better wages, healthcare and pension are on the agenda."
“Drivers are already driving 12 to 14 hours a day and barely see their families,” said Roland Griffin, Sysco Warehouse worker of 25 years. His co-worker and fellow shop steward Erick Engel added: “These proposals strip even more time away from our families and negatively affect our overall quality of life”
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy is leading these negotiations. “Our members have provided us clear direction. They deserve a fair contract, and I am committed to them getting one,” he said.
Sysco is the world's largest broadline food distributor. The hard labor of its workers has grown its profits beyond expectation for three quarters in a row. Despite that, the company is looking to make the working conditions even more difficult for workers.
“Sysco it trying to play hardball with the bargaining team, but we are not prepared to make any concessions. Better wages, healthcare and pension are on the agenda,” concluded Engel.