Teamster taxi drivers showing their collective power at the Union hall on Friday, May 25.
Teamster taxi and flat-rate drivers celebrated an announcement by airport contractor Eastside For Hire that the company would suspend its Pay-To-Work scheme and rescind the planned terminations of 29 vehicles and their drivers from the airport taxi fleet.
Drivers were prepared to take a strike authorization vote on Friday to protest the threat of terminations and a scheme requiring drivers to pay thousands of dollars or lose access to the airport. After Eastside’s announcement that it was suspending Pay-To-Work, the strike approval meeting turned into a celebration.
“This is a great victory. We stood together in our union to protect our jobs,” said Suldan Mohamed, a driver who has worked in the taxi industry for 13 years. “We are not divided by color, religion, or background. We are all one community trying to support our families.”
“We were able to achieve this through our unity,” added Harinder Singh. “But the threat is not over. We need to stay united and be ready to take action again if necessary.”
"We were able to achieve this through our unity."
On April 17, hundreds of drivers participated in a peaceful protest at Sea-Tac Airport to protest Eastside’s plan to reduce the taxi fleet and impose additional fees on drivers. Drivers spoke out at Port Commission meetings against the unjust terminations and met individually with commissioners.
The Port ultimately directed Eastside to rescind its plan and said it would exercise its right to inspect Eastside’s records related to the terminations. At today’s meeting, drivers wrote cards thanking the Commission for their support. “We want to thank the Port of Seattle for listening to drivers and taking this issue seriously,” Mohamed said. “This is a great day for us and our families.”
“I want to congratulate Teamster taxi drivers on this important victory,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. “Drivers showed that by standing together in their union they can protect their livelihoods and prevail in the face of unjust working conditions. Our union is stronger through their membership, unity, and resolve.”
Airport Taxi drivers filled the room at yesterday’s Port of Seattle Commission Meeting to thank Port Commissioners for their support.
"Our diverse communities are united - Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs alike."
Twenty-nine of the drivers are two days away from termination by Airport contractor Eastside for Hire. “The SeaTac 29” were targeted for termination last month hours after testifying before the Port Commission about a controversial “Pay-to-Work” scheme requiring drivers agree to pay thousands of dollars in fees just to keep their jobs.
The Port of Seattle has formally notified their contractor that the terminations are not permitted, but Eastside has yet to rescind the termination notices.
Bachitter Singh, a driver of more than six years, said: "Thank you for standing with us. We are united as one, and we are looking for your further support in preventing unjust terminations of the SeaTac 29."
Despite pressure from the company, drivers are sticking together and continue to make their voices heard. "In this holy month of Ramadan, our diverse communities are united - Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs alike. We celebrate together, and we stand together for justice for all," Zenabu Bayaso told Commissioners.
Drivers Call on City to Take Action to Pass a Driver/Passenger Bill of Rights
Drivers in Seattle’s for-hire industry expressed frustration at today’s ruling by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that partially reverses a lower court’s decision to uphold Seattle’s collective bargaining law.
“Drivers are deeply disappointed with today’s decision, which continues to delay our right to unionization,” said Don Creery, an Uber and Lyft driver and member of the leadership council of the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA). “Anti-trust laws were put in place to protect the little guy from monopolistic practices from large corporations, not to shield a company like Uber – valued at over $70 billion – from negotiating with its workers over fair pay and working conditions.”
"Drivers have already waited for years for fair pay and the right to a union."
Drivers called on the City of Seattle to enact new policies to protect drivers, level the playing field in the industry, and ensure that drivers can earn a living wage. “Drivers have already waited for years for fair pay and the right to a union. Today’s court decision emphasizes the urgent need for the Seattle City Council to step in to improve pay for drivers and pass a Driver/Passenger Bill of Rights,” Creery said.
Because of their disputed status as independent contractors, for-hire drivers who work for Uber and Lyft have not been protected by traditional labor laws or state and local laws, such as Seattle's $15 an hour minimum wage law and Washington State’s new paid sick leave law. In April, the City of Seattle passed a resolution to study the industry and consider regulations that could lead to better pay and other protections for drivers.
In 2014, Uber and Lyft drivers sought assistance from Teamsters Local 117 to improve their pay and working conditions. In May 2014, drivers established ABDA to promote fairness, justice, and transparency in the for-hire industry.
“We are disappointed by the Court’s ruling that continues to block drivers from having a voice,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Like other working people in this country, for-hire drivers should have the same freedom to stand together in their union to improve their pay and working conditions. We will continue to stand with drivers for their right to unionize, earn a family wage, and to raise standards in the industry.”
Since 1993, the National Association of Letter Carriers has organized one of the nation's largest all-volunteer one-day food collection effort. This year's Letter Carriers' Food Drive will take place on Saturday, May 12.
You can participate by leaving your donation of canned food on your doorstep for your letter carrier to pick up this Saturday.
The Emergency Food Network is seeking a few volunteer drivers and unloaders to assist with this Saturday's food drive.
Volunteer Driving Teams are groups of 2-4 volunteers with a personal vehicle who drive around designated neighborhoods and pick up food in the community. Times are flexible between 10am-3pm
Drivers Needed at the Following Locations:
- South Tacoma (4 teams needed)
- Lakewood (1 team needed)
- Fife (1 team needed)
- University Place (3 teams needed)
- Proctor (1 team needed)
Volunteer Unloaders are also needed to help postal carriers unload the food from vehicles at the Post Office.
Unloaders Needed at the Following Locations
- Sumner (1pm-5pm)
- Lakewood (2:30pm-6:30pm)
To register, contact EFN's Coordinator of Volunteers at email@example.com or (253) 584-1040.
Thanks for helping to stamp out hunger!
Longtime Teamster steelworker Kim Ferguson (r) congratulated by his union rep, Lance Asher.
The work of Teamsters shows up in some remarkable places.
The roof at Safeco Field retracts on wheels that were burned by Teamsters. Ditto for the pontoons that anchor the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. The Space Needle itself was fabricated with Teamster steel.
Through their labor, Local 117 members like Kim Ferguson and his dad have helped fashion some of our region’s most renowned landmarks. Together the two share 78 years of membership in Teamsters 117.
“I got a dose of it when I was a young kid,” Ferguson remembers. “I’d go to union meetings with my dad and it was packed, wall-to-wall, standing room only.”
Ferguson started going to union meetings back in the ‘60s when he was 10 years old. In the summers, he’d ride the crane with his dad down at Stack Steel & Supply, one of our region’s most prominent steel service centers at the time.
Ferguson’s dad spent 33 years in the steel industry with Local 117. At 18, it was Ferguson’s turn to go down to the old hall to get sworn into the union he would call home for the next 45 years.
Teamster taxi and flat-rate drivers pack a Port of Seattle Commission meeting on April 24.
Sea-Tac Airport taxi and flat-rate drivers responded with calls for justice after taxi airport contractor Eastside for Hire announced the termination of 29 drivers from the airport fleet. Drivers received a communication from Eastside of the terminations on Tuesday, April 24.
“I don’t have thousands of dollars to pay to work at the airport,” said driver Fitaber Gudina in her testimony before Port of Seattle Commissioners on Tuesday. “The only money I have is to buy bread for my children. Please, stop this injustice.”
“We want to be able to work to pay our mortgages and pay for college for our children,” testified Michael Megnta, who has been driving in Seattle for 27 years. “We believe in this society and want to raise the next great generation. Let us work!”
Teamsters at Humane Society of Tacoma & Pierce County Say No to Inhumane Treatment: Vote Unanimously to Authorize Strike
There was no hesitation from any of the predominantly female Teamsters who care for animals at the Humane Society when a strike authorization vote was taken. Never in all her 18 years of being a Teamster has Sarah Anderson – Cat Foster Coordinator, shop steward, and member of the bargaining committee – seen a proposal from an employer that has been so extreme with takeaways.
“We take care of animals that are forgotten and neglected, and work everyday to ensure needy animals find new homes,” she shares. “The hard work and overwhelming commitment of my co-workers is inspiring.”
“That’s why it’s so hard to understand why the new management team is working so hard to attack our pay and benefits after years of productive bargaining with Teamsters,” said Anderson. “It feels like we are fighting for basic human rights at this point,” she shares. “They are aggressively trying to break us down.”
Teamster taxi and flat-rate drivers gather on the roof of the Sea-Tac Airport parking garage before Tuesday's protest.
More than 200 taxi and flat-rate drivers raised signs of protest at Sea-Tac Airport on Tuesday in a massive effort to stop airport taxi contractor Eastside for Hire from forcing drivers to pay to work. Drivers chanted “stop the pay-to-work scam” and “Eastside unfair” as they marched for nearly an hour at the taxi dispatch line on the third floor of the airport parking garage.
Last Thursday, Eastside sent drivers a notice informing them that they had until 5 P.M. on Tuesday to sign an intent to pay $9,000 or forfeit their right to access the airport. The drivers of 405 taxicabs and flat-rate vehicles in the airport fleet rely on fares from the airport as their primary source of income. Losing the right to access the airport would result in a devastating loss of business for drivers.
“Nobody has the money to pay that sum,” said taxi driver Saranjeet Shaglani. “It’s very expensive to work here. We can hardly pay the bills. So we all gathered together to get justice.”
"We all gathered together to get justice."
Drivers have already paid thousands of dollars for the right to service customers at the airport. When the Port of Seattle awarded Eastside the taxi contract in 2016, drivers paid Eastside a minimum of $4,600 per driver to join the fleet.
Drivers also paid to convert their vehicles with Eastside’s branding. In addition to the cost of entry, airport drivers are charged a $155 weekly dispatch fee and a $6 per trip fee. Drivers say the fees at the airport are so high that many earn less than minimum wage after expenses.
Michael Berhea, shop steward at LAZ Parking, in front of the Pacific Place Mall garage after casting his vote.
If you have ever been to downtown Seattle, you would have seen the Pacific Place Mall. You would have gazed at elegant lines of its four floors, watched the expensive vitrines under the skylight and walked across its skybridge.
But you probably have never pushed one of its employee side doors. If you have, you would have left the glamour and natural lighting behind and plunged into the grey corridors of cracked concrete.
Teamsters in the Education Dept at the Woodland Park Zoo celebrate their new contract.
Congrats! to our new members, Teamsters in the Education Dept. at the Woodland Park Zoo. The group voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to ratify a first-ever union contract.
The group came together last year to win better wages, working conditions, and a voice on the job. They officially joined our union in August after an NLRB election vote.
"It took courage and determination for these workers to stand together in their union and win a voice," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "Let's congratulate them on their first Teamsters contract and welcome them into our union."
The Education Dept. group joins 60 Teamster zookeepers, who are also employed by Woodland Park Zoo.