Legislative session kicks off on January 8, 2018
A 60-day session of the Washington State Legislature kicks off on January 8, 2018 and will run through March 9.
During that time, we will be working to pass bills that help workers, increase government accountability, and protect the health of our families and workers.
Our union employs a full-time Legislative Affairs Director, Brenda Wiest, who will be on the ground every day in Olympia working to protect the rights of Local 117 members and their families. Brenda works closely with Political Action Director, Dustin Lambro, who is organizing opportunities throughout session for members to speak directly with their legislators about critical issues.
We will be holding two major lobby day events this year, for our for-hire drivers on January 24, and for our public sector and DOC members on February 12-13. Talk to your union representative about how you can get involved or call Dustin at 206-794-2606.
This legislative session our priorities include:
Department of Corrections/Law Enforcement
- Our number one legislative priority for DOC this session is to secure funding in the supplemental budget for a study of the DOC staffing model;
- We will also be working to: Expand the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) to include more DOC groups, achieve interest arbitration for campus police, expand the presumptive disease designations, and include PTSD and other stress-related disease coverage under workers compensation.
Expanding collective bargaining rights
- Under state law, some workers are barred from joining unions. We are working to pass a package of bills to expand bargaining rights for professional port employees, part-time workers, and interpreters.
- Our union has partnered with other public sector unions to create a number of statutory changes to give us the best chance to maintain union strength in a post-Janus environment.
- Oppose legislation that would preempt local governments from regulating the industry.
- Pass legislation that moves app-based drivers into the for-hire framework and levels the playing field for all drivers in the industry.
Priorities that are good for workers and our communities
- Pass the Equal Pay Act that will ensure differences in pay are not driven by sex or gender, and close the pay gap between men and women.
- Pass Prescription Drug Transparency to force big pharmaceutical companies to disclose the reasons for price spikes in medication.
- Pass the Voting Rights Act and Automatic Voter Registration to change discriminatory voting systems and increase voter representation and registration.
- Pass Breakfast after the Bell to close the Achievement gap and give all kids access to a healthy and nutritious start to their school day.
- Monitor Autonomous Vehicle policy to make sure workers and the public are protected.
- Work with stakeholders and legislators to address issues related to creating a Portable Benefits structure that provides for a meaningful safety net and addresses the underlying problems with the misclassification of workers and abuse of independent contractors.
The vote is underway. King County Teamsters have begun casting their ballots on their contract. The voting is the culmination of a year of bargaining, starting at the coalition level and concluding with small table negotiations.
Voting kicked off last week for several King County groups. The first vote meeting for all units was held on Saturday at our union hall in Tukwila. You can access a schedule of all the meeting times and locations here.
Lester Van Gelder, a wastewater treatment supervisor and shop steward who participated in coalition bargaining, encouraged his co-workers to participate. “It’s extremely important - this is affecting your livelihood,” he said.
“If you’re not voting, you’re not getting heard,” added Bobby Stalnaker, a steward in the security screener’s unit. “This is a chance for you to get your voice out there.”
"If you’re not voting, you’re not getting heard."
Members are voting both on a Master Labor Agreement (MLA), which was negotiated last year between our Coalition of Unions and the County, and their individual bargaining unit’s appendix agreements.
The MLA consolidates language from contracts across the county into one unified contract.
Starting in January, 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 the Master Labor Agreement (MLA), which is unanimously recommended by all members of the King County Coalition of Unions, and on your individual bargaining unit's appendix or "small table" agreement.
To prepare for the vote, you can review the MLA and your individual unit's agreement 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. For a print posting of the schedule, click here.
It is that time of year for our annual Blood Drive event!
Our Teamsters Local 117 Blood Drive will be held on Saturday, November 18 at the Union hall in Tukwila from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All donors will receive a $25 Safeway gift card.
If you don’t live in the area, you can still participate! Any donations made between November 8 and November 22 will be rewarded with a $25 Safeway gift card as well (just mail in the proof of donation to the Union Hall).
Come give the gift of life!
This holiday season our union is holding a Toy Drive to give back to children in need. To successfully pull this off, we need your help!
The toys will be donated to Local 117 families who are struggling this year. All remaining toys will go to Treehouse for Kids, a local non-profit that works with foster children.
Can you commit some time to collect toys in your shop?
If you can help, please email Taylor House at Taylor.House@Teamsters117.org with your name, email, current phone number, and day you will be able to come pick up your donation box.
You can pick up your box and flyers promoting the Toy Drive at the union hall between Wednesday, Nov. 15 and Friday, Nov. 17. From there, you place the boxes in your designated break areas so your co-workers can donate. The boxes will need to be returned to the hall by Friday, December 15.
This deadline ensures we can get the gifts to Local 117 families and deliver excess toys to Treehouse for Kids in time for disbursement. For last minute donations, we will also be collecting toys during our Thursday, December 21 Holiday Membership Meeting.
Thank you for all of your hard work on the shop floor. Let's work together to help our communities this holiday season!
Jessica grew up in a small town in the Yakima Valley in a family of Teamsters. Her brothers are both police officers and members of the union.
At the University of Washington, she majored in Political Science and engaged in Latin American studies and Law. She credits her activist skills to working with a non-profit fighting for immigrant rights.
“I learned the basics of organizing and become a truly passionate activist there.” Since then she has worked in the labor movement for almost 7 years, most of which she spent as an organizer with UFCW.
Local 117 members gather on the Capitol steps in Olympia during our 2017 Lobby Day.
As a part of our strategic planning process, we surveyed Local 117 members at the end of 2016 asking what priorities our union should focus on, in addition to bargaining strong contracts.
One priority that came through loud and clear was the need to “hold politicians accountable.” Elected officials make decisions that affect our pay, our benefits, and our right to collectively bargain. We need to make sure that we’re holding their feet to the fire.
To work toward that goal and to ensure that our endorsement process is member-driven, we created a Statewide Political Advisory Committee. Our committee this year consisted of nine rank-and-file members from each of our divisions in the union (public sector, private sector, and the DOC).
This committee is the decision-making body to determine whether a candidate for office receives our endorsement, or not.
If a candidate wants our support, here’s the process that person must go through:
- The candidate must fill out a questionnaire, which was written by our committee. The questionnaire asks for a candidate’s positions on labor and community standards, and where the candidate stands on promoting fair pay and benefits for workers.
- Once we receive the completed questionnaire, we schedule the candidate for an interview with our Statewide Political Advisory Committee. These half-hour interviews are an opportunity for members to ask more specific questions about where the candidate stands on issues like wages, health care, and retirement security for working families.
- Once the interviews are completed for a given race, we then make an advisory recommendation to our elected Executive Board, which has the final say on whether to endorse a candidate or not. We don’t typically endorse or contribute to a candidate unless they go through this process.
Once candidates are elected to office, we don’t stop there. We make sure that they are holding true to the policy positions and pledges made during the member interview process.
We are incredibly proud of our Statewide Advisory Committee and the outstanding work they have done this year. For the 2017-2018 election cycle, you can view our endorsements online.
If you’d like to get involved with this committee, please reach out to our union’s Political Coordinator, Dustin Lambro, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-441-4860 x1262.
Our King County Coalition of Unions bargaining team celebrates a fully-recommended Master Labor Agreement.
Teamsters across the country have a special opportunity today to learn more about a Supreme Court case that presents a grave threat to the freedom of members working in the public sector.
The Rick Smith Show will be devoting today's episode to Janus v AFSCME, a case that takes aim at the ability of working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities.
You can view the show online starting today at 2PM at www.TheRickSmithShow.com. If you have a question or wish to express an opinion, you can call in at 717-422-5215. This episode of the show will also be available online after it airs.
Rick Smith is a fellow Teamster who grew up in a working class neighborhood in Cleveland. He took his straight shooting no nonsense Teamster outlook to the air and started mixing it up with working people across the Midwest. His show grew steadily, attracting listeners starved for a voice that spoke to working stiffs who felt the economic floor crumbling beneath them.
Smith will focus today's show on the Janus case, which is the culmination of decades of attacks on working families by wealthy CEOs and the politicians who do their bidding to rig the economy in their favor. They want to weaken unions because unions have played a central role in defending the freedoms we cherish to build and protect the middle class.
No one knows exactly how the Court will rule on Janus, but experts believe there is a strong likelihood that Janus will eliminate your freedom to negotiate union security clauses in the public sector. If this occurs, members would be able to abandon their membership, but continue to receive all of the benefits of representation without having to pay for it. Unions would lose resources, contracts would become weaker, and the membership would become divided.
The so-called “Freedom Foundation”, a front group for wealthy corporate interests and a strong supporter of Janus, has already started contacting union members in Washington State, encouraging them to abandon their unions. You can learn more about the Freedom Foundation’s anti-worker agenda at www.FamilyStrengthCommunity.org.
The best way for us as members of Teamsters Local 117 to prepare for an adverse Janus ruling is to stand together with our co-workers and reaffirm our commitment to each other. We have a plan to win and be even stronger, with members leading the way. Many members across our union who work in the public sector have already signed cards or an online pledge committing to stick together with their co-workers no matter how the Court rules.
Our union is incredibly resilient. We have faced many challenges in the past, and we’ve proven that when we stand together, we can improve our lives and our communities. We are confident we will prevail this time as well.
Our King County Coalition of Unions bargaining team declares victory after nine months of tough negotiations.
We have some exciting news! Today, after nine months of challenging negotiations, our King County Coalition of Unions reached a fully-recommended tentative agreement with the County over a Master Labor Agreement (MLA).
From the outset, our goal in MLA bargaining was to solidify the strongest language from the myriad of County contracts into one unifying agreement. Despite many difficult moments, we were able to partner with the County to successfully achieve that goal.
The MLA, if ratified by your bargaining unit, will determine many of the terms and conditions of your employment at the County. There are 40 articles that cover topics such as union recognition, union bulletin board usage, safety gear, safety allowances, after-hours support, holidays, vacation leave, bereavement leave, parental leave, jury duty, reclassification, and many others.
"Today is a great day for the laborers who work for King County." - Dan Fernandez, Local 117 member
In nearly all cases, we were able to achieve the best language that currently exists in the many union contracts across the County and incorporate it into the agreement. As a result, the MLA will mean significant improvements to the contracts of Coalition members.
A fully-recommended MLA represents another critical step in the bargaining process that started with Total Comp negotiations last year. The next step is for us to return to our small table negotiations. Once those negotiations are complete, Coalition members in their individual bargaining units will have an opportunity to vote on their small table agreements and the MLA.
As we complete our small table (individual contract) negotiations, your specific contract/bargaining units should continue to update you on their progress.
Thank you to the outstanding work of our Coalition bargaining committee. Our team did an extraordinary job navigating the challenging issues that arose at the bargaining table. Thank you also to the County for listening to the concerns of union members and being a willing partner in these negotiations.
If you have questions, please reach out to your bargaining committee member or talk to your union representative. Thank you for your service to the residents of King County.
King County Teamsters -
Master Labor Agreement (MLA) bargaining between our Coalition of Unions and King County has been an extremely challenging process that has lasted for six months.
Our union bargaining team has worked hard to incorporate the strongest possible language from the myriad of County contracts into the MLA.
Yesterday was our last scheduled bargaining session, and although we have TA'ed many articles, we still have not reached a final tentative agreement with the County.
The Coalition chairs, Denise Cobden (PTE 17) and Michael Gonzales (Teamsters 174), put out a brief statement today to update members on the status of bargaining. We should have a more complete update some time next week.