When we fight, we win!

Private Sector

New Organizing at the Woodland Park Zoo Builds Teamster Solidarity


Employees of the Woodland Park Zoo's education department filed for Teamsters 117 representation with the NLRB on August 4. 

Today, over thirty employees in the education department at the Woodland Park Zoo petitioned for union representation with Teamsters Local 117, filing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and delivering a letter to management requesting voluntary union recognition. 

Workers in the education department are passionate about what they do, fostering respect for our natural world and conservation leadership through educational programs that inspire our community to learn, care, and act. 

"I am excited to form our Union..."

“I am excited to form our union because I love the Zoo’s mission, and the staff I work alongside with who bring that mission to life everyday deserve respect and support,” said Kristi Dodds, a Zoomazium Coordinator who has worked at the Woodland Park Zoo for 16 years.

After winning union representation, the education department employees will select a bargaining committee to negotiate their first collective bargaining agreement, after which they will join over 60 zookeepers, vet techs, and warehouse workers at the Woodland Park Zoo who already have a voice on the job as members of Teamsters Local 117. 

Congratulations on taking this step, and welcome to your union!

Stand united & stick together - a message from Fred Meyer Shop Steward

Fred Meyer Shop Steward, Dwayne Kerrigan, has a message for his co-workers: "Stand together, stick together, and keep up the good fight!"  

On July 28, Fred Meyer Teamsters who work at the company's distribution center in Puyallup voted 332-1 to authorize a strike. We will be meeting with the company for negotiations on August 11.

Teamster drivers applaud federal judge's dismissal of lawsuit challenging for-hire law


Drivers Call on Uber to Stop Efforts to Block their Right to Have a Voice

Seattle for-hire drivers who are seeking to unionize under the city’s new collective bargaining law applauded a federal judge’s ruling to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenging the law.

“We’ve been waiting for this day, waiting to join the union and to have the right to negotiate with Uber,” said Mustafe Abdi, who has been driving with Uber for three years.

Abdi, who is a member of the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA), listed a number of concerns he and other for-hire drivers would like to address at the bargaining table. “We need to talk about the rates and deactivation and other things. We don’t have medical, we don’t have retirement. We don’t have Social Security. We don’t feel safe when we drive our cars. This is good news for all drivers in Seattle.”

As independent contractors, Seattle for-hire drivers are not protected by traditional labor laws, such as Seattle's new $15/hr minimum wage law and its paid sick and safe ordinance. 

"We’ve been waiting for this day, waiting to join the union and to have the right to negotiate with Uber."

Uber and Lyft drivers sought assistance from Teamsters Local 117 to improve working conditions in Seattle’s personal transportation industry. In 2014, drivers formed ABDA to promote fairness, justice, and transparency in the industry.

“Judge Lasnik’s ruling puts drivers one step closer to being able to freely exercise their right to have a voice and unionize under the new law,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We hope Uber will respect the judge’s decision, stop its efforts to block the law, and recognize that, just like millions of other workers across the country, for-hire drivers have a basic right to self-determination and to stand together with the representative of their choosing to improve their pay and working conditions. We will continue to help drivers fight for that right.”

Drivers will have to wait to exercise their rights under the new law until the court lifts an injunction and rules on a separate case.

Solidarity at Fred Meyer - members vote 332-1 to authorize a strike


Local 117 Union Rep Ryan Jarman distributes ballots to Teamster Local 117 members who work at Fred Meyer. 

The grocery giant Fred Meyer/Kroger has a history of testing our members’ resolve.

In 2011 and 2014, they put substandard proposals on the table that were insufficient to meet the needs and demands of the membership and rejected by the Teamster 117 bargaining committees.

During those contract cycles, Fred Meyer members refused to be intimidated. They passed critical strike votes by wide margins, distributed leaflets in several states, engaged the media, and rallied for a fair contract.

"This shows that our solidarity is strong, that everyone is behind the union..."

Now, history is repeating itself. The company is refusing again to maintain industry standards by insisting on an offer that is inferior to the contract recently ratified by our members at Safeway.

But just like in the past, Local 117 members at Fred Meyer are not backing down. Today, in meetings at the Teamsters 313 hall in Tacoma, the group voted 332-1 to reject the company’s latest offer. In doing so, they overwhelmingly authorized a strike.

“Just like in the past, when we’ve shown unity, we’ve been able to get a better contract,” said Dwayne Kerrigan, a 11-year shop steward. “This mass majority rejecting this offer strengthens our position and should make the company rethink their stance.”

Union BBQ at Auto Warehousing brings people together


Union solidarity was in full force down at Auto Warehousing yesterday. Dozens of members getting off their shift lined up for hot dogs as union reps from the Local manned the grill. People wore buttons that read, “This is what a Teamster looks like.” 

“This is real positive,” said Hassan Ward, a 20-year Teamster and shop steward at the facility. “When we come together like this, everybody feels empowered. It’s beautiful.”

"When we come together like this, everybody feels empowered."

The group is in the middle of a tough contract fight with their employer. Members want contract proposals from the company that respect their work and their families. So far the employer has not come prepared to bargain and their proposals have been substandard. 

Teamster Talk: Our summer newsletter is out!


The new issue of Teamster Talk, our newsletter for members of Local 117, is now available! In this issue, you'll find stories on:

  • our contract wins at UNFI and Republic;
  • Teamster efforts to hammer out homelessness;
  • an ongoing contract fight at Auto Warehousing; 
  • and more!

You can get your Teamster Talk online here. For print copies talk to your union representative.

Teamsters at Safeway celebrate new 4-year contract


It was a celebratory moment. Rank-and-file member leaders on the Safeway bargaining committee lined up at the front of our union hall while their co-workers greeted and thanked them for a job well done.

The committee had helped produce an outstanding new contract, which was overwhelmingly ratified yesterday by the membership.

“This is one of the best contracts we’ve had in a long time,” said Billy Barnett, a Teamster shop steward, who has worked at the company for 38 years. “I’m feeling really good about it. There are good raises, good pension, and the medical is real huge.”

"This is one of the best contracts we’ve had in a long time."

The Safeway agreement provides wage increases of more than two dollars an hour over four years and pension increases of a dollar an hour. Our committee successfully achieved improvements to sick and bereavement leave, and break-in rates for new hires have been cut in half.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment in the contract is that it maintains the outstanding health and welfare benefits for members and their families.

Our union’s vice-president, Marcus Williams, took the lead in negotiations, with the support of union representative, Ryan Jarman, and Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy.

“This contract is testament to all of the Teamsters in the grocery industry,” said Secretary-Treasurer Scearcy. "Our members perform backbreaking work in difficult conditions. They work hard to ensure that our economy remains strong and that food products arrive safely and securely to the dining tables of families across our region. I want to thank and congratulate our bargaining committee for their excellent work.”

Check out photos from the Safeway contract vote here.

Teamsters on a Winning Streak: A Fully Recommended Offer with Safeway Reached


Safeway Shop Stewards in bargaining: Jose Madrigal and Bryan Vangstad.

Last night at the Tukwila Hall we reach a fully-recommended offer for over 300 members working under the Safeway Grocery agreement.

“The bargaining committee was focused and determined to achieve the top priorities of the membership. This offer meets those demands,” mentions John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117.

"The bargaining committee was focused and determined to achieve the top priorities of the membership. This offer meets those demands."

Going into the bargaining, members' concerns included improving their pensions, protecting their family’s health and welfare benefits, and many were hoping to extend the leave of absence such as funeral leaves.

“We were looking for more ethical treatment. A employee’s job cannot be jeopardized if he or she is there for their family during a troubling time like that,” says Jose Madrigal, the youngest Shop Steward in the crew. His first bargaining resulted in a big win for him and his coworkers as he is expecting to welcome a third child into his family.

Marcus Williams, the union representative coordinator who took the lead on this challenging negotiation mentions:

 “This contract would not have been achievable without the strong membership participation and our collective efforts with Local 174. Teamster Strong!”

Teamster contract wins are even more crucial for workers in the tough reality of our changing economy.

An Oxford Internet Institute highlights an article on Uber Drivers’ struggle by Local 117 Organizer


Oxford Internet Institute has published “Towards a Fairer Gig Economy”, a collection of articles examining the social and economic problems associated with the “gig” economy. Entries are penned by academics, researchers and include an article written by our Local 117 Association Policy Coordinator, Dawn Gearhart.

"Unions cannot collectively bargain with an algorithm, they can’t appeal to a platform, and they can’t negotiate with an equation."

In “Giving Uber Drivers a Voice in the Gig Economy”, she examines the impact of automatized app platforms on drivers in a system designed to disempower workers. Technology that was welcomed for new opportunities brought with it stagnant problems: falling wages, long hours and poor working conditions.  Organizing app-based drivers presents a new challenge for the unions, and yet Teamsters have led this fight.

“Unions cannot collectively bargain with an algorithm, they can’t appeal to a platform, and they can’t negotiate with an equation.” 

Gearhart highlights successful efforts of the drivers to reverse adverse effects of the new technology by creating the ABDA association, mobilizing against cuts in pay rates and working to successfully pass legislation in Seattle that empowers drivers.

You can read more here.

Secretary Treasurer's Message: Member-driven contracts


Brothers and Sisters -

We’ve started this summer with a bang. On one weekend in June, members voted overwhelmingly to ratify two contracts – at United Natural Foods, Inc. and Republic Services - with historic improvements.

At UNFI, we achieved a defined benefit pension protection for the first time, while at Republic the majority of members will see an incredible 25% wage increase over four years.

These two contract wins are especially noteworthy given our turbulent history with the companies. At UNFI, members went on strike in 2012 in an effort to raise standards to match other contracts in the grocery industry.  At Republic, recycle and yard waste drivers have struggled for decades without success to achieve equitable wages and working conditions with the garbage haulers.

In both cases, it appeared that we were headed for a labor dispute if we wanted to achieve our goals. So what made the difference? What allowed us to translate two challenging contract campaigns into historic wins?  The answer is members getting involved in their union.