Taxi drivers pack the Port of Seattle Commission meeting room at Sea-Tac Airport to demand change.
It was not nearly enough. That was the consensus of dozens of Teamster taxi drivers who testified at yesterday’s Port of Seattle Commission meeting about the Port’s plan to lower the per-trip rate drivers are paying.
Drivers have been forking over $7.00 to Eastside For Hire, the company that holds the Airport taxi contract, every time they pick up a passenger at the Airport. That amount was set to increase by $.50 at the beginning of October.
But after months of pressure from drivers and the community to improve conditions at the Airport, the Port stepped in to stop the increase and acted instead to decrease that amount to $6 per trip.
Drivers say it’s too little to make a difference. “Thank you for the reduction, but this does not solve the problem,” said Ali Sugule, who has been driving at the Airport for two years. “We need a voice at the negotiations table. We don’t want this contract going forward because it is hurting us.”
Airport taxi drivers have been calling out Eastside for months for multiple violations of its contract with the Port and point to a rigged system that enriches both Eastside and the Port at their expense.
New Local 117 union rep, Jonathan Makue, has deep roots in Hawaiian culture. His family’s ancestors date back to King Kamehameha, the islands’ founder, and his grandparents grew up speaking the Hawaiian language.
Makue spent his early years traveling back and forth between his grandparent’s place on Oahu and the mainland where his father had built a business in the fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest.
As a young man, he spent five years working in the canneries in Alaska. He started out on the slime line, cutting up salmon and yanking out the guts, promoted to forklift operator, and finally floor manager. “We were in the middle of nowhere,” Makue says. “You could see Russia on a clear day.”
After Alaska, he worked for a short time down on the Ballard docks, before landing his first Teamsters job at the Safeway Beverage plant in Bellevue in 2012.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” he said. “I finally felt like a human being who had rights.” He appreciated the just cause protections at his new job, the negotiated wage increases, and the Teamster benefits.
"I’ve always known that I wanted to be part of something greater than myself."
He quickly got involved with the union. He helped organize a meeting with Kris Fish, the group’s Rep, to talk about getting a shop steward for workers on swing shift. Kris agreed and Makue was voted into that role. In September, Makue joined the staff of Local 117 and will represent Teamsters in the beverage, cold storage, and light construction industries.
He already feels right at home in his new job. “I’ve always known that I wanted to be part of something greater than myself. Once I became a union rep, I knew what that was. The Teamsters have taught me to lead by example, with respect, discipline, and integrity.”
Members from TransDev at our General Membership Meeting on September 21.
Our Local Union will be contributing $1000 to aid in the ongoing disaster relief effort caused by Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
We passed the hat at our General Membership Meeting on September 21 and collected over $400. Thank you to all of the members who were able to chip in.
Our Union's Executive Board will be matching that donation and rounding up to make an even $1000.
Our hearts go out to the many families stricken by the storms that have ravaged southeastern Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean over the last month.
A small group of Teamsters who work for Republic Parking in downtown Seattle voted to ratify a new three-year contract last week.
It was unanimous – all members voted in favor of the agreement. Members will receive wage increases in every year of the contract and increased contributions to their retirement plan.
"The group felt that greater retirement security was an important goal for this contract and they accomplished that," said union rep Takele Gobena.
Another huge improvement for members was the addition of vision coverage to their health and welfare plan.
The Teamsters covered under the new contract work at the Puget Sound Plaza building and in the garage of the IBM building. They greet customers, help them process their tickets, and assist with building maintenance.
When disaster strikes, Teamsters roll in to help out. That’s what three members at Republic Services did when their boss asked for volunteers to help clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that devastated south Texas earlier this month.
One of them was Ben Goodrich, a Local 117 residential yard waste driver, who has serviced neighborhoods in Snohomish County for the last ten years.
Ben jumped at the idea of pitching in to assist in the hurricane relief effort. “I felt I could come down here and work my ass off and help clean this place up, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he said.
Ben says he's witnessed destruction on a colossal scale. He’s been especially struck by the number of displaced people – families moving into hotels and living on the streets. “It’s pretty humbling."
Since arriving in Houston just after Labor Day, he has been at it 10-12 hours a day, hauling away mounds of rubbish from houses, some of which were fully submerged in the floodwaters. He plans to continue aiding in the effort until at least September 23.
In the wake of the Trump Administration’s announcement that the DACA program is being terminated, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the Washington Dream Coalition are hosting community forums to help answer your questions.
Get the latest information, talk to an immigration attorney, and learn about other resources for DACA recipients and their families.
The City of Seattle has put together a resource guide that includes the NWIRP forums and other events where you can get more information.
If you have questions, contact Adriana at 206-441-4860 ext. 1221.
Drivers in Seattle’s for-hire industry expressed disappointment at yesterday's order by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to temporarily block Seattle’s collective bargaining law.
“We’ve been waiting for two years to be union, to be human beings,” said Mustafe Abdi, an Uber driver and member of the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA). “They say we are partners, we are not partners. We need medical, we need retirement, we need Social Security. We don’t make enough money, we don’t feel safe.”
Seattle for-hire drivers who work for companies like Uber and Lyft are not protected by traditional labor laws, such as Seattle's $15 an hour minimum wage law and its paid sick and safe ordinance.
"We've been waiting for two years to be union, to be human beings."
Uber and Lyft drivers sought assistance from Teamsters Local 117 to improve their pay and working conditions. In 2014, drivers formed ABDA to promote fairness, justice, and transparency in the industry. They helped pass a 2015 law that gave drivers in the City of Seattle the right to unionize.
On Thursday, August 24, Judge Robert Lasnik of the federal District Court of Washington issued an order that lifted a preliminary injunction blocking the law. Yesterday’s ruling by the 9th Circuit temporarily puts the law on hold again.
“We are confident the 9th Circuit will uphold the lower court’s ruling that gives drivers a voice as intended under the law. For-hire drivers should have the same right to self-determination shared by millions of working people across the country. Like other workers, they should be able to stand together in their union to improve their pay and working conditions,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
“We urge Uber to stop disenfranchising its drivers by trying to block the law. For-hire companies like Uber should welcome the law as an opportunity to forge a meaningful partnership with drivers to improve our economy and raise up safety standards for the public.”
Teamsters Local 117's statement on Judge Lasnik's ruling regarding for-hire law:
We are pleased to see that Judge Lasnik has ruled in favor of giving drivers in Seattle's for-hire industry a voice as intended under the law.
For-hire drivers in Seattle should have the same freedom afforded to millions of working people across the country. They should have the right to stand together in their union to improve their pay and working conditions. They should have the opportunity to contribute to improving safety and reliability to benefit the traveling public. This law enables them to accomplish those goals.
We urge companies like Uber and Lyft to stop their efforts to disenfranchise their drivers by attempting to undermine the law. They should welcome the judge's ruling as it provides them with a real opportunity to partner with drivers to improve our economy and lift up our community.
We thank Judge Lasnik for allowing the law to work as it was intended: as an innovative effort to address the many challenges and injustices facing workers in the on-demand economy. This ruling benefits the community of drivers not only in Seattle, but across the country.
The winning team at Woodland Park Zoo. 83% of the Education Department voted to become members of Teamsters117.
As children and adults at the zoo flock to educators holding animals and explaining their behavior, did you know about their struggle? The education department at Woodland Park Zoo has been fighting for better wages and respect for a long time with little success.
“Many of us are not compensated enough as educators for the type of work that we do. We feel like we don’t have a voice. We’ve tried to address it year after year but were ignored,” shares Celwyn Green, an ambassador animal coordinator who has worked at the zoo for 30 years.
Drivers demanding fair working conditions and reinstating of their terminated coworker Ali Sugule (left).
“Unfair!” “Justice!” Loud voices of taxi drivers resonated across the parking garage at SeaTac Airport yesterday. East Side for Hire management stared in bitter frustration at drivers who exercised their right to collectively voice their issues with their dispatch company and the Port of Seattle who contracts with Eastside by suspending work for an hour. It was their second day demonstrating against inhumane working conditions and unjust retaliation by the company. Eastside for Hire has failed to reinstate the 18 drivers who were unjustly suspended for participating in a demonstration on August 21rst.