Teamsters Rod Boettger (r) and Todd Reis (l) meet with Union Representative Cara Mattson to discuss a looming labor dispute at Veritiv.
With a labor dispute looming at Veritiv, 38-year Teamster Roderick Boettger recalls a two-day strike at the company decades ago.
It was a debacle not unlike the current one, with the company dragging its feet in negotiations and clinging to substandard proposals. “They weren’t giving us what we wanted, so we went on strike,” Boettger said.
The strike was short-lived, but the impact on the company was profound. Boetteger remembers the chaos in the shop when his crew returned to work.
“The warehouse was really messed up,” he said. “Forklifts were stuck in the air and stuff was scattered all over the place. It was complete disorder.”
Evidently, the company has not learned its lesson. This time around, they've slow-walked negotiations for eight months and appear to be trying to provoke a strike yet again.
Todd Reis, a Shop Steward on our union’s negotiations committee, called out Veritiv for its hypocrisy. “They tell us how much they care, but then turn around and try to take everything away that we’ve worked hard to keep,” he said.
Reis, Boettger and their co-workers are fed up. The group of warehouse workers and drivers represented by Teamsters 117 and 174 respectively voted unanimously to authorize a strike back in December.
Earlier this month, our two Locals issued a 10-day notice that we would be terminating our contracts with the company.
"We’ll get an idea of how seriously they’re going to take us soon."
Shop Steward Robert Morrison, also on our union’s negotiations team, says the group is disgusted. “We’re ready to go right now. We’ll get an idea of how seriously they’re going to take us soon.”
John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, reiterated this point. “Our members are amped up and ready to strike,” he said. “Veritiv needs to return to negotiations and bargain a fair contract in good faith that respects our members and their families.”
The next negotiations session on April 30 will be telling: Will Veritiv come with reasonable proposals or will they continue to balk at decent treatment of their employees? If it's the latter, they'd better be ready for a fight.
Teamster Gerald Maines sits down with Jesse Jones of KIRO 7 to discuss the plant closure at Shasta.
Thanks to some shrewd investigatory reporting by KIRO 7's Jesse Jones, Shasta's dirty tricks are finally being exposed.
Shasta's Tukwila plant was shut down by the City's fire marshal nine weeks ago after the company failed to obtain permits for a major construction project at the facility.
Shasta has refused to provide any compensation for its Teamster employees during the shutdown, and many have lost their health and welfare benefits. This includes a member with a new-born baby and one battling stage 4 cancer.
After getting stonewalled by Shasta, Shop Steward Gerald Maines along with Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy reached out to Jones to talk about our contractual rights and how the company's negligence has affected workers.
"We have a labor agreement, we have rights in that labor agreement that guarantee pay. And unless it's outside the company's control, they are expected and contractually obligated to provide wages and benefits," Scearcy told Jones in the interview.
See the full story below:
Teamsters at UNFI/Supervalu are united and won't be pushed around by an employer who is intent on maximizing profits at their expense.
Imagine coming home from work, you sit your family down, and have tell them your job is being relocated hundreds of miles away. Your employer is offering no security with regard to your union contract, your wages, seniority, and benefits.
This is the reality for our members employed at the UNFI/Supervalu grocery distribution centers in Auburn and Tacoma.
After acquiring Supervalu last year, UNFI abruptly announced that they would be moving the work from both facilities to Chehalis and Ridgefield.
The proposed move raises critical questions for our members and their families. Will they remain Teamsters? Will the terms and conditions of their current contract apply at the new locations? Will they retain their seniority rights? What will their severance package look like if they are unable to make the move?
"Teamsters at UNFI/Supervalu won't be bullied into forfeiting their rights."
Hundreds of members from the group and their families met at our Union Hall in Tukwila on March 16 to discuss these questions and set priorities. The group met again for another update on Saturday, March 30.
"This is everyone's future," said Annette Pitchford, a 33-year Teamster Shop Steward who works inventory control at the UNFI/Supervalu facility in Tacoma. "It is essential that we stay together and you can really feel that in the warehouse right now."
Our union's principal officer John Scearcy was joined by previous Local 117 Secretary-Treasurers Tracey Thompson and John Williams to address the group.
"We are working to ensure that our members' rights are protected under their contract and under the law," Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy said. "Teamsters at UNFI/Supervalu won't be bullied into forfeiting their rights. They are united and prepared to fight to protect their livelihoods."
Faith-based and community leaders join with workers at ICS who are struggling for justice and respect.
Community pressure on Industrial Container Services (ICS) continues to intensify.
An interfaith delegation of religious leaders and representatives from community groups joined with workers to deliver a letter yesterday calling on the company to respect the rights of ICS employees and bargain a contract in good faith.
Members of the delegation took turns offering prayer and a message of solidarity with the workers as the group waited in the ICS lobby for management to receive the delegation and "open the doors of justice."
"I wanted to be here with my voice and my presence today to stand behind these workers and their courage because what they need and what they want for their families is important," said Tana Powell of the Valley and Mountain United Methodist Church.
"Our community is standing in unity with Teamsters at ICS."
Workers at ICS have been struggling over the last several months for a contract that honors their work and respects their right to a clean, healthy working environment.
During negotiations, ICS unilaterally changed its employees' health care plan and allegedly engaged in unlawful surveillance of workers during a peaceful protest on February 22.
On March 7, Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez met with workers and delivered a letter to ICS management urging the company to negotiate a living wage, affordable health care, and retirement security for members of Teamsters 117.
"Our community is standing in unity with Teamsters at ICS," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "This company needs to understand that we are stronger when all workers can afford to put food on the table for their families, take their kids to the doctor, and not have to worry about exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace."
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez joins Teamsters 117 members at ICS to fight for a safe, healthy workplace.
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez led a delegation of our members yesterday to confront management at Industrial Container Services (ICS) over alleged violations of federal law and proposals to slash health care.
Councilmember Gonzalez delivered a letter to the company calling on ICS to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract in good faith that includes "a living wage, affordable health care, and retirement security" for the Local 117 members.
"I am the daughter of immigrants - my parents are from Michoacan, Mexico," Councilmember Gonzalez said as she addressed the mostly immigrant workers after the action.
"I grew up as a migrant farmworker in central Washington State. I understand what it's like to work in a dirty environment where we don't have all of the rights we deserve and to worry about our safety and health. I'm here to support you and your ability to fight for a fair contract and to ensure that you have a safe workplace."
"Thank you to Councilmember Gonzalez for standing together with our members at ICS," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "The community will not tolerate an employer that compromises the health and safety of its workforce and pushes its employees to the brink of a labor dispute. We will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and safety until our members at ICS are treated with respect."
Teamsters at ICS are sick of company bullying. They're united and ready to take strike action to defend their livelihoods.
The message was loud and clear, scrawled on the dust masks our members at Industrial Container Services (ICS) wore today as they sanitized and refurbished steel barrels for reuse: Don't make me sick, ICS.
The company wants its Teamster employees to take a major hit on their health and welfare coverage with significant increases to their out-of-pocket medical expenses. In negotiations, ICS is trying to impose an inferior medical plan and they are providing little notice about enrollment.
Members are sick of the company's bullying tactics. Before this morning's safety meeting, the workers gathered in the breakroom, put on the masks and attached stickers to their hardhats that read, "Ready to strike!"
Last Friday, the group voted unanimously to authorize a strike and is prepared to disrupt production unless the company changes its approach at the bargaining table.
"ICS needs to do the right thing and return to negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "This is difficult, dangerous work where our members are exposed to toxic fumes and the risk of injury is high. The last thing this company should be doing is degrading our members' health care coverage."
UPDATE - FEB. 22, 2019:
On Wednesday, our members at ICS raised Just Practicing pickets in front of the company during their lunch break. Check out a few photos from the action below:
Power, unity and resolve: Teamsters at ICS gather outside our Union Hall after a unanimous strike vote.
Teamsters at Industrial Container Services (ICS) are not backing down. After months of being bullied by their employer in contract negotiations, the group is fighting back. Today after an update from their union committee on the company’s substandard proposals, members voted unanimously to authorize a strike.
With the vote, the group sends an unequivocal message to their employer that they are united and won’t be jerked around. “All of us are united in demanding that they negotiate fairly,” said Abel Flores, a nine-year employee at the company. “We need them to respect our rights, and we need to see improvements in their proposals.”
ICS has refused to engage in meaningful negotiations and made unilateral changes to working conditions, laying the groundwork for a possible ULP strike.
What's more, ICS wants members to take a major step backwards on their health and welfare coverage while at the same time they want to hitch members' wages to the minimum required under the law. They’ve even tried to divert previously agreed to retirement contributions from the existing contract into their new wage proposals.
The group is not having any of it. “It’s not fair that they’re treating us like this, under these conditions,” said Iduviges Castro Sanchez, an eight-year employee. “If they won’t come to a fair agreement with our Union, we’re ready to strike.”
"If they won’t come to a fair agreement with our Union, we’re ready to strike."
Teamsters at ICS are no stranger to a fight. In 2014, they showed tremendous courage in standing up to their employer to get organized.
Before joining Teamsters 117, the workers’ only water source was a rusty pipe. Their break room was a filthy wreck of battered lockers, and they had no sanitary place to wash their hands. These abhorrent conditions were worsened by a workplace rife with toxic chemicals workers are exposed to as they sanitize and refurbish barrels containing industrial waste.
With a Union, workers had a voice over their wages and working conditions. Joining Teamsters also led to extraordinary changes including a new break room, new lockers, and a new, clean water dispensary. Now the company is provoking the workers once again, and like before, the workers are prepared to stand up and fight.
Sisters and Brothers -
We owe a whole lot of gratitude to Teamsters across our Union who have been working round-the-clock during Snowmaggedon 2019 to keep our streets clear, our grocery shelves stocked, and our communities safe.
A special thanks to Local 117 members in public works departments across the North and South Sound who have been operating plows and salting the streets for the last week. Road conditions are bad enough now, but can you imagine the mess we'd be in without their tireless service?
Thanks, also, to our members in the grocery and food service industries who are putting in 16-hour shifts and holding up in roadside hotels to heft, house, and distribute food products to stores, nursing homes and hospitals across our region. They're busting their tails so that we can continue to eat.
"As Teamsters we've heeded the call of service and sacrifice..."
Teamster police and corrections employees are not granted days off during snow emergencies. Thanks to our Sisters and Brothers in public safety who are braving the roads and, as always, putting their lives on the line, to serve and protect us.
So many more Local 117 members have shown up for work this week despite the snow. As Teamsters, we've heeded the call of service and sacrifice so that families across Washington State can continue to safely navigate their neighborhoods, put food on their tables, and enjoy the madness Mother Nature has gifted us.
You are our hometown heroes - we appreciate you all so much.
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy (l), Organizing Co-Director Pedro Olguin (c), and Tyson Lapilio (r) at the Memphis MLK March
Tyson Lapilio, a Teamster at Republic Services, joined Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and Organizing Co-Director Pedro Olguin in Memphis for the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division conference earlier this month. Lapilio penned this excellent piece capturing his experiences at the event:
Superheroes have captivated Halem since childhood.
Halem Hasan is a Teamster who works the night shift at Safeway Beverage Plant in Bellevue. A machine operator, he oversees the production of beverages that are shipped to stores across the country. He does that work by night, but at daybreak his steel-toed boots, the chemical resistant smock, mask, and goggles come off, and he puts on his cape. Now, Halem is on a mission. He walks the sunlit streets unnoticed, but the object of his search is always the same: toys.
Halem buys toys in bulk. He walks out of the stores with bags full of superheroes in boxes, complete with little shields, masks, stars, and above all, a dream at heart. When he gets home, he is cautious. His sidekick, his soon-to-be three-year-old daughter Addison -- an aspiring batgirl, mustn’t find out.
Halem with his family. He has been collecting comic book characters for years.
Every month of the year, Halem buys and puts away toys. In December, he gathers them all into one giant box and donates them to Toys for Tots. Before Safeway, he worked at Toys R Us and took part in the toy drive. That’s when he developed a collector’s taste. Today, Halem remains a toy collector and a devout comic book fan.
"Now, it’s my time to give back to the community this way."
Like every superhero, Halem has a backstory. He was raised by a single mother who struggled but provided the family with the best she could. Toys weren’t high on the priority list. Halem remembers waiting for that special time of the year when he would get gifts through toy donation programs. “We had programs like that for Christmas,” he recollects. “Now, it’s my time to give back to the community this way.” He hopes his daughter will join him on his mission someday.
Here is just a small sample of his collection.