We still have no clear answers in our effort to achieve a Total Comp agreement for Union members at King County. Our Union Coalition has put forth a comprehensive economic counterproposal and offered a clear pathway forward on a Joint Labor Agreement.
Now the ball is in the County’s court. Whether the County responds by recognizing King County Union members for the outstanding service they provide to the public or the employer continues down their current unproductive path will likely be determined in what could be our final bargaining session on Friday, July 29.
Negotiations got off track several weeks ago after the County abruptly introduced the idea of a Joint Labor Proposal (JLA), then tried to impose it on us by tying it to their economic proposal.
We expressed concerns about the County’s concept for the JLA from the start because it compromised important individualized provisions in our collective bargaining agreements. We also insisted on more equitable wage increases and health and welfare protections that reflect the cost of living in the Seattle metropolitan area.
Q&A with a Local 117 member: Labor's role in a green economy
As we wrestle with the shift to a renewable economy, it's critical workers have a seat at the table. We spoke with Rick Reinlasoder, Livestock Program Specialist at King County about why environmental issues matter to union members.
Q: What got you interested in environmental issues?
A: I grew up on a dairy farm in western Montana and interacted with the environment (soil, water, plants and critters – wild and domestic) on a daily basis. I’m naturally curious and began to ask questions about natural resources and how they were managed. My brother and I questioned the use of conventional chemicals and practices on the farm and tried to find alternatives, where possible. We continue that effort today, as we now own most of the farm in partnership.
Q: Why should environmental issues matter to union members?
A: We all interact with the environment and its health affects our lives directly. Environmental messes and degradation are left for future generations to deal with. Sometimes it takes a great deal of energy to make positive change and the strength of the union (many voices) might help influence that change.
Teamsters Local 117 has been a labor leader in the environmental movement by ensuring the transition to a green economy doesn't leave workers behind.
Our Union's Director of Organizing and Strategic Campaigns, Leonard Smith, speaks out during the Climate March last year.
In the past, the issue of climate change has been framed by corporations and some government agencies as a choice between the “environment or jobs”. That is a false choice that only divides workers and communities. It is critical that, as the nation wrestles with the shift from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable economy, the voices of workers and their communities have a seat at the table.
Last year, while the labor movement in Seattle found itself divided over the issue of Shell Oil leasing Terminal 5 for its Arctic Drilling preparation, Local 117 played a leadership role in organizing labor opposition to the Port of Seattle’s lease with Shell and gained national attention for our work around Terminal 5.
I was invited to attend a national convergence on climate change and labor sponsored by the Labor Network for Sustainability.
Currently, we have open positions for Shop Steward at the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office.
There are postings for Shop Steward at every PAO location. If you’d like to become a Shop Steward, please print your name on the posting at your location, or print out the document here, sign it and send it back to me before July 20.
The Shop Steward posting will be located on your Union Board within your location, this board can usually be found in an open area, copy room, and breakroom/lunchroom.
If you have any questions for any matter, please contact me at your earliest convenience at Bryon.firstname.lastname@example.org. – 206-441-4860 ext 1235. Thank you!
Teamsters Local 117
After several months of bargaining, our Union Coalition’s negotiations with King County have become more polarized.
Despite improved economic conditions, the County seems determined to offer less than it offered in the last round of coalition negotiations, suggesting annual cost of living adjustments of only 1.61% per year instead of the 2% and 2.25% increases in the last two years, AND a reduced annual contribution towards health and welfare benefits of only 2% each year instead of the 4% annual increase offered in the last bargain.
“I don’t see that the County is willing to move on any of the goals that labor has put forward.”
DAN FERNANDEZ Prosecuting Attorney Office
The Union Coalition is sending a strong message that this simply will not ratify given the economic growth and increased cost of living in the Seattle metropolitan area.
On Wednesday, July 5, the County presented us with a formal counterproposal on all economic issues including wages and health and welfare benefits. However, the County’s proposal did not involve any meaningful movement and was largely a reiteration of its prior offers.
The County also rejected our proposal to universalize and improve the above top step pay systems. As you might expect, the Coalition’s negotiation team was disappointed and frustrated by the County’s failure to respond to our economics priorities.
“It’s extremely disappointing. I don’t think the County is coming to the table to actually bargain. It seems to be: Here’s the plate. You can either eat from it, or too bad you can just walk away.”
CHERYL ANN GUNDERSON, IT Manager
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy along with other members of our Local 117 delegation to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention
At the convention, division meetings take place covering all aspects of the work of our Union. IBT staff, Local Union staff and members discuss the successes and challenges that our Union has experienced.
At the Public Services Division meeting, we talked about the attack on public employees, the legal challenges to collective bargaining rights, and the need to retain a strong voice in the workplace.
One of the topics discussed was the U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. This was the case that threatened to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public sector union members.
The Supreme Court deadlocked on Friedrichs, essentially maintaining our collective bargaining rights. Sadly, there are more than two dozen cases working their way through the courts that would have the same impact.
Division Director Michael Filler spoke of the need to fully engage our membership. To build solidarity and fend off these attacks, we must find ways for members take a greater role in their union.
Our Union Coalition bargaining team spent most of the day in caucus on Wednesday, June 22, first reviewing the possible economic parameters including wage increases, a coalition premium, and health and welfare benefit protection.
Our Union team also reviewed language that represented possible revisions to a Joint Labor Agreement (JLA) that culled out provisions and language unacceptable to the Union Coalition.
We then had a robust and serious dialogue regarding the JLA. The JLA was not originally contemplated by the Total Compensation Agreement that led to these negotiations, and the concept of the JLA was introduced very late in the process and without a clear and reasonable explanation as to how the JLA (and agreement of common terms applicable to all coalition unions) would integrate with the multiple, mature collective bargaining agreements that have been negotiated across decades.
Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy sits on a panel to discuss more training opportunities for King County employees.
We put aside our differences with King County for a day as union representatives and County officials gathered at the Labor Temple for the annual King County Labor Summit.
The purpose of the Summit was to seek common ground and explore opportunities for partnerships between unions and the County around issues like equity, social justice, and training and development. Much of the day’s discussion also revolved around the need to address the County’s financial challenges.
Our Local Union was a major player at the event. John Scearcy, our Secretary-Treasurer, initiated the opening panel discussion about the need to prioritize training opportunities for union members at the County.
John told his powerful personal story about how he rose up out of poverty to get a good union job in a warehouse, become a Shop Steward, and ultimately the President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We need to create more opportunities for impoverished communities and people of color,” Scearcy said. “This is about partnering toward people’s success.”
Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, has published a guest opinion piece speaking up on behalf of professional staff working at the City of Black Diamond. See below:
This piece was published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald on June 15, 2016. You can view the piece in the paper's Green Edition here.
Our Coalition bargaining team met with King County for a frustrating negotiations session on Wednesday, June 8. In this session, the County appeared unwilling to meet our team halfway on issues that are critical to the union coalition.
The day started with the County stating its opposition to our proposal for a longevity or merit-based pay structure that would reward union members who have dedicated many years of service to the County. This came as a disappointment to our union committee given that establishing a system for longevity pay was one of our priorities going into bargaining.
We were more hopeful when the County indicated that it was interested in creating a premium for members whose unions have participated in coalition bargaining. We took that idea into caucus and discussed the possible makeup of the premium through the creation of a new coalition pay table that would surpass the general squared pay table.
By Leonard Smith, Director of Organizing and Strategic Campaigns
A case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this year had the potential to significantly weaken the collective bargaining rights of workers in public sector unions. In Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, the Court was projected to vote 5 to 4 to undermine workers and their unions.
After the unexpected passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court split 4-4, effectively delaying the blow to collective bargaining.