Essential Teamster road crew out of King County's Fall City depot is ready to hit the streets!
As the coronavirus crisis has touched all of our lives, our Union at King County has been working to adapt.
In April, Teamsters 117, as part of the King County Coalition of Unions, negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the County securing additional leave protections for union members, including emergency paid leave and paid administrative leave. The MOA also emphasizes increased access to telecommuting and PPE for those who are required to work on-site.
These protections were achieved outside of the framework of this year's contract negotiations, which were originally scheduled to begin in March but have been put on hold due to the pandemic.
To plan for what negotiations might look like this year, a group of Teamsters 117 Shop Stewards at King County, together with Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and Union Representatives Maria Williams and Cara Mattson, met via Zoom last week.
In that meeting, we had an excellent presentation from our International Teamsters Union on the financial state of King County. We also reviewed member contract surveys and established our priorities for negotiations. Our Shop Stewards are united around job preservation for Teamsters 117 members as the Union's number one priority.
Shop Stewards have identified job preservation as the Union's number one priority.
In the coming weeks, the County will provide us with its own analysis of how the crisis has impacted its financial condition. At that point, we will work within the Union Coalition to decide the best path forward for negotiations. Given that so much has changed over the last few months, we are also working on a way to solicit additional member feedback to ensure that your voice is heard.
There are still many unanswered questions about what bargaining will look like this year. To prepare for all possible outcomes, we plan to continue meeting regularly with Shop Stewards. As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.
Finally, we want to pass along some good news about your union health care. The joint labor-management group (JLMIC) that oversees your benefits has continued to meet on a monthly basis. Maria Williams, our Teamsters 117 representative on the JLMIC, reports that all COVID-19 related expenses will be covered at 100% for Union members at King County, and there will continue to be no out-of-pocket expenses on your health care.
Just a reminder that the pandemic does not impact previously negotiated agreements, so you will still be receiving your negotiated 1.5% general wage increase this July.
Thank you for your service during these unprecedented times. Your work is essential to the fabric of our community as we all struggle and strive to build a more healthy and just society that respects all people.
Teamsters 117, working in concert with other public employee Unions, has scored an important victory in our effort to protect your privacy.
In a case brought by a coalition of Unions, Thurston County Superior Court has ruled to enjoin state agencies from releasing public employees' birthdates that were sought as part of a public disclosure request by the anti-union "Freedom" Foundation.
The court ruled that the release of the information "is not in the public interest and would cause irreparable harm" to Union members.
For now, this is a temporary injunction, but our Union's legal counsel will be asking the court to make the order permanent this month.
In the 2020 legislative session, our Union achieved an important legislative win with the passage of HB 1888. The new law, scheduled to be implemented on July 1, amends the state Public Records Act to protect public employees' privacy by safeguarding birthdates.
While the "Freedom" Foundation could try to appeal the court's injunction, there isn’t sufficient time for that appeal to be concluded before the new law takes effect.
"Our members have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting the public," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "They keep our streets safe, clean up our parks, repair our roads, and care for and rehabilitate incarcerated individuals in our state's prisons. It's absolutely essential that we safeguard their personal information to protect them against identity theft, fraud, and other kinds of abuse."
Our International Union will be holding a Townhall meeting for Public Services members, including all Teamsters 117 members working in corrections, public safety as well as county and municipal employees.
The meeting will take place on Thursday, May 7 at 12 noon (PST) using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform.
- To register for this webinar, please visit: ibt.io/PSDtownhall
The meeting will feature General President James P. Hoffa, Public Services Division Director Jason Rabinowitz as well as IBT staff.
We'll have an overview of the rights and benefits available to public service workers under the Families First Act and the CARES Acts. Members will also have the opportunity to hear about our Union’s fight for assistance to public employers as part of the next Congressional stimulus package and how they can get involved to protect our jobs and crucial public services.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar. If you can’t join the video portion, then call-in information will also be sent by email after you register online.
We hope you will join the Teamsters Public Services Division as we go over COVID-19 resources and our next steps in the wake of this unprecedented national crisis.
Thank you to all Teamsters at King County who are continuing to provide critical services to our community during this crisis.
Our King County Coalition of Unions has been actively negotiating over additional protections for represented members during the unprecedented pandemic caused by COVID-19.
We are happy to report that we have reached an agreement with King County that provides further protections for members of Teamsters 117, along with thousands of other Coalition members.
In sum, we have secured access to a minimum of 160 hours of full-time paid leave (Federal and County) and subsequent options to utilize COVID-19 or Donated Leave.
Here are some of the highlights:
Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSLA): Effective April 1, 2020, members will have access to 80 hours of EPSLA as covered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for the following reasons:
- The member is unable to work because they are quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- The member is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19;
- The member is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
For more information on the FFCRA, feel free to visit the Department of Labor website.
All EPSLA will be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay which is better than what is required by the law!
Paid Administrative Leave (PAL): Effective on the first pay period in April, Coalition members will be allowed to use up to 80 hours of PAL for the following reasons:
- Members who are sick with COVID-19 or taking care of eligible family members with COVID-19;
- Members who are sick with COVID-19 symptoms and must stay home;
- Members who fall into CDC high risk categories who cannot telecommute and do not want to come into the workplace;
- Members who are not high risk but are directed by a Health Officer or qualified medical professional to quarantine because of potential exposure to COVID-19 and who cannot telecommute; and
- Members who are home because their child’s school or childcare facility is closed and who are unable to work or telecommute.
This leave was established for all members in addition to the EPSLA prior to requiring the usage of any alternative leave bank.
COVID-19 Leave and Donated Leave: Members continue to have access to the COVID-19 Paid Leave and Donated Leave Programs.
Telecommuting, etc., Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), etc.: The MOA emphasizes increased access to telecommuting and PPE for those that are required to work on-site as well as priority reinstatement for any TLT or STT whose work may be suspended during this time.
Should you have questions, please reach out to your Union Representative. This is a huge victory for represented employees in King County and it wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible work of our Coalition membership during this time.
Teamsters like Jeff Schellhase and Keith Wagner (photo) at the King County Public Health warehouse in Seattle are handling huge volumes of PPE inventory.
Jeff Schellhase has never been busier. He's been busting his tail, 11-12 hours a day, on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
At the King County Public Health warehouse where they work, Jeff and his Teamster co-workers house and haul medical supplies to pharmacies, healthcare and long-term care facilities. Since the coronavirus outbreak took hold in our region, the volume has been immense.
"Our work now is more important than ever."
"We're breaking down tons of PPE that has been shipped here and transporting it out as fast as we can," he says. "This includes masks, gloves, gowns - all of the protective gear needed to keep our caregivers safe."
Part of Jeff's job entails picking up COVID-19 lab work and running it over to the state lab for testing. As testing picks up, he'll be called on to do more.
All across the country, Teamsters like Jeff are stepping up to respond to this crisis. As essential personnel, they can't work from home, which puts them at a greater risk of infection.
"Our work now is more important than ever," Jeff says. "People are running out of PPE. They don't have gloves, they don't have masks, and they're having to wrap themselves up in garbage bags. We need to all work together to get them the supplies they need."
This March, we will begin contract negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement for all Teamsters at King County.
Teamsters 117 will be working as a part of a Coalition - the King County Coalition of Unions - to negotiate over our collective priorities related to the Master Labor Agreement, Total Compensation, and the JLMIC, the joint-labor management group that oversees County employees’ health care benefits.
To help prepare for negotiations, please complete the contract survey by clicking the link below. You must complete the survey by no later than Sunday, March 8, 2020.
Filling out a contract survey is important! The survey helps prioritize issues and gives you an opportunity to voice your concerns. Our Union Negotiations Committee will use the survey results to develop proposals for contract negotiations based on your feedback.
In addition to the contract surveys, we will be holding in-person Contract Demands Meetings with King County Teamsters. The meetings are another way you can make sure your voice is heard. As soon as those meetings are scheduled, we will let you know.
Thank you for sharing your ideas about how we can build a stronger contract together!
At the 20-year anniversary celebration: Brenda Wiest (Vice President), John Scearcy (Secretary-Treasurer), Marie LaRiviere, James Hoffa (General President), Cammy LaRiviere, Michelle Woodrow (President)
Marie LaRiviere always shot for the moon. A Tacoma girl and the daughter of working-class parents, Marie had her sights set on Georgetown University in Washington D.C. She had the grades to get there. The trouble was affording an Ivy League school.
Marie’s mom, Cammy, supported the family through her work as a 911 Communications Officer at Tacoma’s Law Enforcement Support Agency. She spent her days fielding calls from people in distress, a job she loved for the help she could provide the community.
It was a good Teamster job with excellent benefits, but tuition for Georgetown was off the charts. Cammy told her daughter that she could attend any college the family could afford but sending her to Georgetown would be a stretch.
Undeterred, Marie started to cobble together money for tuition. She applied for scholarships wherever she could find them. “She went after them all,” Cammy recalled. Inspired by her daughter’s determination, Cammy encouraged her to apply for a scholarship she found while flipping through Teamster magazine.
Local 117 members Richard Valenti (l), Taylor Pence (c), and Greg Noonan (r) are armed and ready at the City of Auburn.
Greg Noonan, Teamster at the City of Auburn, is your veritable jack-of-all-trades. His work portfolio consists of plumbing, carpentry, welding, and metal fabrication along with some ingenious design work.
When city officials and other town dignitaries needed a sleigh to parade down Main Street, Noonan made it happen. He transformed a flatbed truck into Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer with antlers, blinking lights and all.
"It's hard to say what I do from one day to the next," Noonan admits. "But that keeps things interesting."
Noonan will be retiring this June, passing his craftsman's torch to his co-workers in the City's Public Works Department. As he departs, he'll have the peace-of-mind that the workforce he's labored alongside for 24 years will continue to be protected by a strong Teamsters contract.
Highlights of the new agreement include negotiated wage increases, longevity pay, increases to the uniform allowance, and full maintenance of benefits with excellent health care coverage through the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust.
"Between no increases to our medical and getting longevity pay - those were the two big things that really got our guys on board."
Rich Valenti, the town's horticulturist and member of our Union's negotiations team, explained why the contract passed with such impressive numbers.
"Between no increases to our medical and getting longevity pay - those were the two big things that really got our guys on board," he said.
Valenti does the town's planting, pruning, and landscape design. He plots out trees, shrubbery, and flowers for hundreds of garden beds across the City. A portion of his time is spent during the winter months propagating annuals in a small greenhouse, where he transform 200 plants into 4,500 by transplanting their cuttings and seeds.
Rich Valenti (l), Taylor Pence (c), and Greg Noonan (r) are armed and ready to keep Auburn at its finest.
Much of the work of Noonan and Valenti, along with the other Teamsters at the City, takes place behind the scenes. They repair our roads, maintain our potable water system, and beautify our public spaces. Their work is indispensable to the smooth operation of the City's infrastructure and Auburn's quality of life.
With the contract approved, members are feeling like their work is finally recognized. "I've never seen a contract ratify with those kinds of numbers," Valenti said. "And we had a great turnout for it, too."
Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy congratulated the group on the new agreement.
“We had record turnout to overwhelmingly ratify a contract that addresses core issues important to our members that have their boots on the ground," Scearcy said. "This is what you achieve by working together as a union and a great example of the power of member engagement, knowledge, and participation."
The anti-union “Freedom” Foundation is making yet another attempt to obtain your personal information through a public disclosure request. The request seeks the following information from the Department of Retirement Services (DRS) for all public employees in the State of Washington:
- First name
- Middle name
- Last name
- Full birthdate
- Work email address
- The retirement system in which they currently participate
- FTE status/percentage
- Current annual salary
- Duty station location/address
To learn about what information DRS is planning to release, you can visit their website here.
In addition to the request submitted to DRS, the “Freedom” Foundation has made a similar request to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) seeking the personal information of all employees who work for the State of Washington.
A DIRECT ATTACK ON PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
Make no mistake – this is a direct attack on all public employees and their unions in Washington State. The “Freedom” Foundation is a radical group funded by out-of-state wealthy special interests. They’ve opposed our right to paid sick days and lobbied against wage increases for state employees. Their goal is to privatize public services, defund defined benefit pension plans, and outsource public sector jobs.
Due to outdated public disclosure laws, the efforts of unions and others to block the release of this kind of information in the past has not been affirmed by the courts. The best way we can fight back is by standing together.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Talk to your co-workers about the “Freedom” Foundation’s anti-union agenda;
- Warn your co-workers about the “Freedom” Foundation’s attempt to access their information.
Thank you for your service to our community and for your membership in Teamsters 117.
Angela Rogness works in King County's domestic violence advocacy program in the Regional Justice Center in Kent.
As we head into the holiday season, we wanted to provide a few updates for Teamsters who work at King County:
- Contract Negotiations: Master Labor Agreement (MLA) negotiations at King County will kick off in the first quarter of 2020 followed by bargaining over your individual appendix agreements. To prepare for bargaining, we'll be surveying the membership and providing lots of opportunities for you to engage in the process. Stay tuned!
- Your Teamsters Contract: With negotiations approaching, now is a good time to review your Teamsters contract. You can access the MLA and your bargaining unit's individual appendix agreement on our Union's website here.
- Wage Increases: All Teamsters at King County will receive a negotiated 3% wage increase in 2020, with 1.5% coming on January 1, 2020 and another 1.5% on July 1.
- Coalition Bonus: All members on payroll January 1, 2020 will receive a $500 coalition bonus. The bonus applies to members of the King County Coalition of Unions only of which Teamsters 117 is a part.
- Teamsters Holiday Meeting: Join us for our Holiday Membership Meeting and raffle drawing extravaganza on Thursday, December 19 at 7 p.m at our Union Hall in Tukwila! This is fun event with lots of prizes and a good way to connect with your Union. You can RSVP for the meeting on our Teamsters website here.
I have one other piece of good news to share. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures changes in prices associated with the cost-of-living, is hovering between 1.7% and 2.2% for the Seattle/Tacoma region for 2019. The fact that our Union Coalition was able to negotiate a 4% increase for 2019 shows the strength of our Coalition and the power of an engaged and informed membership.