Local 117 Shop Stewards showing unity, strength, and purpose - Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day 2019.

The collective strength of our union was on full display on Saturday as hundreds of rank-and-file leaders from across the state gathered together at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle for our annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day.

The theme for this year's event was Power, Unity, and Progress - elements that have shaped our union as we've built it into a transformational force to lift up working families.

The event kicked off with a short video that captures who we are as Teamsters and our goals for a better future. Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy followed with his State of the Union address.

"As Shop Stewards, you are the backbone of this union," he said. "You strive every day on the shop floor to organize your co-workers and to build power. Your work is indispensable to making Teamsters 117 one of the strongest, most dynamic unions in the Pacific Northwest."

"Your work is indispensable to making Teamsters 117 one of the strongest, most dynamic unions in the Pacific Northwest."

Highlights of the day included the attendance and remarks of three special guests: Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa, IBT Vice President At Large Steve Vairma, and newly-elected Washington State Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer April Sims.

General President Hoffa, who also met with DOC Stewards the day before, praised the work of our Local Union. 

"What you're doing here at Local 117 is what we've got to do all over the country," he said. "We've got to have powerful unions and we've got to have people who are forward looking. We've got to build what we're talking about - Power, Unity, Progress. And you're doing it here."

After Hoffa's remarks, members gathered for a group photo before heading off to two 50-minute training sessions. The breakouts focused on the work of Stewards beyond grievances to organize and mobilize members to take action and to reflect on lessons learned in a post-Janus environment.

The group reassembled for lunch, where Steve Vairma spoke about how our International Union has achieved a string of victories in the IBT's Warehouse Division by harnessing the unity of multiple Teamster Locals and by showing adversarial employers a united front.

April Sims of the WSLC ended the day with a story about how her mother's union job lifted her family out of poverty. Her inspirational words moved the group to a rousing ovation.

Thank you to all Shop Stewards across Teamsters 117. Your tireless work on the shop floor, at the negotiations table, and in our communities makes our union resilient and strong.