Mayor Jenny Durkan after a meeting with Uber and Lyft Drivers.
Seattle Uber and Lyft drivers celebrated the passage of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s ‘Fare Share’ plan by the City Council today, calling it a historic victory that will provide long-sought labor protections and lead to higher pay for the City’s 30,000 ride-hail drivers.
This groundbreaking legislation establishes first-in-the-nation legal protections against unwarranted deactivations. The legislation will also establish a Driver Resolution Center to provide a wide range of support services to drivers.
“After I was hit by an uninsured motorist, Uber shut off my app. Uber calls it deactivation, I call it getting fired for no reason,” says Bob Gulbranson, who has driven for Uber for several years. “This legislation gives drivers a voice and a chance to be treated fairly.”
In addition to creating a grievance process and funding a worker organization for drivers, the legislation mandates that all drivers be paid no less than Seattle’s minimum wage after expenses by July 1, 2020. The City will commission an independent wage study with driver input to determine appropriate pay for drivers based on hours worked, expenses incurred, and benefits.
At today’s City Council budget hearing, drivers said they were eager to participate in the study to help develop a fair pay standard so that they can finally earn a living wage after expenses and stop the race-to-the-bottom in Seattle’s ride-hail industry.
“I support my family with this job,” says Sukchain Banwait, a long-time Uber and Lyft driver. “We pay for the car, we pay for the gas, we pay for the maintenance, and we pay for the depreciation. We work long hours, and we deserve to get paid fairly.”
The legislation is funded through a 51-cent tax on trips by ride-hail giants Uber and Lyft. Proceeds from the fee will also support community investments in affordable housing and transit improvements so that drivers and other working families in Seattle have a greater opportunity to live closer to where they work.
Teamsters Local 117 has worked with the App-Based Drivers Association to improve conditions for drivers in Seattle’s ride-hail industry. Both organizations are members of a Fare Share coalition of over 60 housing, transit, labor, environmental, health, and social justice groups that have come together to support the legislation and to make sure Seattle’s growth works for everyone.
Teamsters at ABG, who score among the highest in the nation for their customer service, voting yes on a strong contract.
Teamsters at Avis Budget Group, Inc who work at SeaTac Airport have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new 5-year contract. The group of approximately 150 customer service agents and sales representatives met last week to approve the proposal. They have been in bargaining since May of this year and even as the company was sluggish in their response, the group was successful in achieving wage and pension increases, sick leave improvements and bargaining unit work protections.
"As the economy is set to be shaky in the next few years, we value the security of a good contract."
“We are very happy to lock the wage increases in for five years,” said Sean Reis, a Teamster shop steward and a service agent at Avis. “As the economy is set to be shaky in the next few years, we value the security of a good contract.”
This group of Teamsters services millions of customers passing through SeaTac Airport. The pressure on them is high to keep lines of clients satisfied, yet their performance is top-notch and customer reviews rank them in the highest tier across the country. Teamsters at Avis feel this contract is a reflection of their hard work.
“I’ve worked here for 30 years,” concludes Reis. “This contract is among the best we’ve had.”
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.
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."
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."
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:
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:
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.
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.”
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:
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 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.”