Members in King County's domestic violence advocacy program go out of their way to help people in crisis.
The face of the domestic violence advocacy program in King County is one of deep compassion. Thank you notes from clients are pinned to the wall of the advocates’ office in the Regional Justice Center in Kent expressing profound gratitude to the women who work there.
"I have such gratitude for your knowledge and presence."
One former victim writes, “I want to thank all of you for your help. I don’t even know any of your names, yet I have such gratitude for your knowledge and presence...” Some victims will reach out years after their case has been resolved or approach their advocates to thank them in the street.
“When you hear that people have moved on with their lives in a successful way – that’s rewarding,” says Sanetta Hunter, who has worked at the agency for more than 20 years.
Advocates often receive thank you mail from people who have been the victims of domestic violence.
In the United States, about one in three women experiences some form of abuse, including assault, rape, harassment and stalking. In 2018, there were nearly three thousand domestic violence cases filed in King County alone. Advocates in Kent and in the agency’s Seattle office provided assistance at 5,798 hearings and helped victims obtain 1,271 protection orders through the courts. It is an astonishing volume of work for the 20 Teamsters employed in the program.
Liz Evans and Kerwin Pyle came together from administrative and recycle department at King County to speak to Teamsters about the strength of solidarity.
“If you dug up a cardboard box from a landfill in fifty years you would still be able to read the words “Amazon” on it, but when it gets recycled we can still get two or three lifetimes out of it,” said Kerwin Pyle, recycling project manager at King County and Local 117 shop steward. Kerwin believes in protecting the environment and his co-workers.
Last month Kerwin paired with Liz Evans, administrative specialist, at the King County Administration Building where through a time loss program they were able to speak to fellow members who work at King County. They engaged their co-workers in conversations about the positive impact of recent contract wins, the importance of solidarity in the face of the opt-out campaign from the so-called Freedom Foundation, and the commitment to staying united for future fights.
“When we get involved in our union, we form a strong voice and can change the anti-worker policies,” Evans reflected. She has only been in her current position for a little over two years, but she already feels a strong obligation to her co-workers and stepped into a shop steward role. Coming from a non-unionized work environment, it didn’t take her long to realize the power of collective action.
Over the course of four days, Liz and Kerwin reached King County Teamsters working in solid waste, IT, the courthouse, archives, records, administration, and other areas. The conversations they had were overwhelmingly positive. The divisive efforts of corporate interests pushed through the Janus case last year are proving to be futile. Teamsters realize that although King County is not an anti-union environment, the efforts of the labor movement can be undone if members don’t stick together.
“If the next King County Executive comes in and wants to be a union buster, it is within their power to do so unless the union is your watchdog. That’s why I’m here. I’m a new shop steward who can back you up,” explained Pyle.
This time-loss campaign was built on the success of a previous one in June. Shop Steward Mari Jane Friel helped with the training as she recently did a similar time loss program to engage members working in King County roads.
These efforts are proving to be successful in coalescing members to be more aware and involved with their union as well as developing organizing skills for new leaders. Both stewards left the time loss program with new skills, enthusiasm about the union, and a deep desire to be more involved.
Teamsters at King County will see an extra chunk of money in their paychecks this month. The money comes as a result of months of hard work by members and staff who have been part of our King County Coalition of Unions.
The Coalition spent much of last year negotiating a Total Compensation Agreement, which all Teamster bargaining units overwhelmingly ratified last December. The Agreement covers your wages, benefits, and other compensable elements for 2019-2020.
With the contract approved, all Teamsters 117 members at the County received a 4% wage increase effective January 1, 2019. Before you could see the money reflected in your paycheck, the contract needed to be approved by the Council and the County Executive.
That process is now complete and your wage increase retroactive to January 1 has arrived.
Your contract also provides for a total of a 3% wage increase in 2020, divided into two parts: a 1.5% increase effective January 1, 2020 and a 1.5% increase effective July 1, 2020. You will also receive a $500 bonus on January 1, 2020 that applies to members of the King County Coalition of Unions only.
This week we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW). This is a time to honor our public servants and express our gratitude for the critical services they provide.
Our members in the public sector clear our streets during snow emergencies, maintain our roads, clean up our parks, and keep our communities safe.
Too often public employees are the target of unwarranted criticism, but when disaster strikes they are usually the first to respond.
"That sense of duty and pride is so typical of our members who commit their lives to public service."
Take this last February, for example. When snowdrifts piled up on streets across the Pacific Northwest, most of us took time off to be with our families.
Not true with many of our public servants. Our members in public works braved the elements to operate the snowplows and clear the streets, while our law enforcement and corrections members valiantly reported for duty.
They knew their co-workers would carry a heavier burden if they stayed home and that it might even impact their safety. That sense of duty and pride is so typical of our members who commit their lives to public service.
Thank you to Teamsters who work in our cities, counties, and in state employment for your service. We are forever grateful.
We have received notification from the County that our Union's Total Compensation ("Total Comp") agreement negotiated by the King County Coalition of Unions and overwhelmingly ratified by all Local 117 bargaining units is on its way to Council.
The County informed our Coalition that the Council's Budget and Fiscal Management Committee would consider the agreement at the end of the month. After it passes out of committee, it will be referred to the full Council.
Assuming the Council enacts our contract, it would then go to the County Executive for final approval before any retro pay could be implemented by the County.
The contract covers your wages, benefits, and other compensable elements for 2019-2020. Once the agreement is signed by the Executive, all Teamsters 117 members at the County will receive a 4% wage increase retroactive to January 1, 2019 and a total of a 3% wage increase in 2020, divided into two parts: a 1.5% increase effective January 1, 2020 and a 1.5% increase effective July 1, 2020. Some groups may receive other retroactive increases depending on their individual appendix agreements.
You can view the complete total comp agreement here.
We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information. If you have questions, please contact your Shop Steward or Union Representative.
King County Shop Stewards tallying votes at the union hall in Tukwila on Thursday evening.
Good news for Teamsters at King County! All Teamsters 117 bargaining units have voted resoundingly to ratify the Total Compensation ("total comp") agreement and their individual appendix agreements. The votes were tallied and certified by a group of ten King County shop stewards from various divisions at our Teamsters union hall in Tukwila on Thursday, December 20.
Your new contract covers your wages, benefits, and other compensable elements for 2019-2020. With the contract approved, all Teamsters 117 members at the County will receive a 4% wage increase effective January 1, 2019 and a total of a 3% wage increase in 2020, divided into two parts: a 1.5% increase effective January 1, 2020 and a 1.5% increase effective July 1, 2020.
Before this year’s wage increase is reflected in your paycheck, the contract will have to be approved by the King County Council and signed by the County Executive, which could take several months. You will receive your wage increase retroactive to January 1 once the approval process is complete. All Teamsters 117 members will also receive a $500 bonus on January 1, 2020 that applies to members of the King County Coalition of Unions only.
Other improvements include enhancements to your vision plan, the restoration of the 2016 retirees medical subsidy, improved long-term disability benefits, and access to a short-term disability plan. The excellent family medical benefits you enjoy as a union member at King County remain unchanged for the term of the contract. You can view the complete total comp agreement along with your individual unit’s appendix agreement here.
This new contract represents an important win for Teamsters at King County. Our strength and leverage at the negotiations table lies both with our Local Union and in working as a part of a powerful Coalition of King County Unions.
"This vote shows that when we stand together for family wages, better benefits, and a safe, secure, equitable workplace, we can win improvements for ourselves and our families," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "Thank you to our outstanding union bargaining committee that spent many months and tireless hours pushing the County to do right by its employees. In the end, we have achieved a contract that recognizes the tremendous service you provide to the residents of King County."
If you have questions, please reach out to your negotiations committee member, your shop steward, or your union representative.
Thank you for your service. We wish you a happy new year.
High winds travelled across Washington State last week uprooting trees and downing power lines. Thousands of residents were left without power. In Lake Forest Park, a crew of 6 public works employees responded to reports of wreckage caused by the winds. They cleared fallen branches from the roads and cleared the space for telecommunications and electrical utility services to make repairs. The crew performing this frequently dangerous job are Teamsters. They are the invisible force that takes care of street flooding, issues with water and sewage, and all the other tasks that keep the roads open and functional.
The group at Lake Forest Park organized 15 years ago, and their shop steward, Ian Murray, would still make the same decision today. They face day-to-day challenges with their management. He commented: “Without a union, management cannot be held accountable even if there are bad consequences for the public or the employees. When we are united and effective, they back off. Otherwise, we would lose our jobs on their whim.” The majority of members at Lake Forest Park have held their jobs for over a decade.
"When we are united and effective, they back off."
Murray has just gone through contract negotiations, and his team’s new contract goes into effect on the first day of 2019. In addition to a wage increase, they will receive a bump in compensation for “stand by” days, which happen when the whole crew is placed on call in case their help is needed due to severe weather events.
The highlight of the contract, however, is replacement of the Quartermaster system. Getting new gear – work clothes and boots – used to be a hassle. They had to submit the old work clothes before applying for replacement. This always resulted in management-controlled delay during which the workers had to wear their own clothes and boots. Since public works employees frequently operate in dangerous and grimy environments, their gear is expensive and has to meet safety standards. Now, with the new contract, they will receive a yearly stipend for their own gear and have control over access to professional clothing.
As more wind and rain are expected this week, Lake Forest Park Teamsters climb into their trucks and drive off to continue clearing the highway and preparing for the next tempest. Some of them will be on the road on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If you see them driving by, send them a salute.
Teamster electrician Marci Solomon oversees the electrical work at the Tacoma Dome.
Marci Solomon is a force of nature. Within moments of my meeting her at the Tacoma Dome this morning, she’s launched into stories about cross-country road trips on her Harley, rescuing bulldogs, and navigating the machismo she confronts as a woman working in a male-dominated trade.
Marci is a lead Teamster electrician and has run the show at the Dome for the last ten years. She inspects transformers and circuits, scampers across rigging 85 feet in the air, and illuminates the big acts that come to town from Garth Brooks to AC/DC.
“I’m responsible for every light in this building,” she says.
Last month Marci was recognized by her peers as Tradeswoman of the Year at an awards ceremony put on by Washington Women in the Trades. She was ecstatic when nominated for the award by a co-worker and even more pumped when she found out she’d won.
“I could have lit up the city,” she said. “It was as if every amperage and voltage in my body was off the charts.”
"It was as if every amperage and voltage in my body was off the charts."
Life in the trades as a woman can be a bit of a challenge. Both the building trades and the music business are swimming in testosterone. When event promoters come into town and learn that the only electrician at the Dome is a woman, many are chauvinistically skeptical.
“A lot of times they roll their eyes,” she explains. “But later, they’ll come back and say, Marci was great. I think they feel guilty because they dissed me in the beginning.”
Marci is a proud, faithful dues-paying member of not one, but two unions - Teamsters 117 and IBEW 76. When the Janus court ruling came down mandating open shop in the public sector, Marci was quick to make the rounds speaking with her co-workers about the need to stick with the union. She helped her union rep, Julie Yust, get 100% of the Teamsters at the Dome signed up on commitment cards.
“Unions equalize things out,” Marci says. “It doesn’t matter what gender or race you are, you get the same pay, the same benefits. The union is there for its members.” Marci appreciates the work of her rep, but also believes members need to do their part to keep the union strong.
Her mantra is all about union pride: “You’re in a union - act proud, work proud, be proud.”
Congratulations, Marci, on your much-deserved recognition as Tradeswoman of the Year and thank you for your exemplary service as a member of this union.
Our Union will be holding contract vote meetings at locations across King County for members of Teamsters Local 117 starting on December 3 and running through December 19, 2018.
At the meetings, you will have an opportunity to vote on a labor agreement ("total comp" agreement) that covers your compensation and benefits for 2019-2020. Our Coalition of Unions recommends that you vote “yes” to approve the proposal.
Some bargaining units will also be voting on individual unit appendix agreements in addition to the total comp agreement.
You can access a schedule for all of the voting dates, times, and locations here.
To prepare for the vote, please review the Total Comp documents and your bargaining unit's appendix agreement below. Thank you for service to the residents of King County. Please exercise your right to vote!
Total Comp Agreement
DOT Design and Construction Supervisors
IT Managers and Supervisors
Joint Units Agreement
Printers and Copiers
PT&A Safety Health and Professional Certified
In December, we will be conducting contract ratification meetings for all Teamsters who work at King County.
At the meetings, you will have an opportunity to vote on an agreement that covers your compensation, health care, and compensable benefits for 2019-2020. The agreement was negotiated between the County and our King County Coalition of Unions.
This “total comp” proposal includes a 4% general wage increase for 2019 and a total of 3% general wage increase for 2020 plus a $500 bonus offered to Coalition Union members only. Our Union Coalition recommends that you vote "yes" to approve the proposal.
Some bargaining units will also be voting on individual unit appendix agreements in addition to the total comp agreement.
To prepare for the vote, please review voting documents available here.
To vote, you must attend one of the drop-in ratification meetings below. If you have any questions, please contract your union representative or shop steward.