Teamsters Local 117 is demanding justice for dairy workers who are facing harassment, retaliation, and other abuses on the farms that supply Darigold milk. Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, will join farm workers and elected, community, faith, and labor leaders to speak out in support of the workers, who will begin a 5-day reconciliation fast starting on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Darigold Dozen and called on Darigold to take immediate steps to improve working conditions at Darigold-member dairies.
“We applaud the City Council for taking action in support of dairy workers,” Scearcy said. “Workers have the right to a safe workplace free from harassment and discrimination no matter if they work on the farms, in the stores, or in the plants that process Darigold milk.”
Teamsters Local 117 represents 250 production workers at Darigold’s processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah. Workers at the Issaquah plant make butter, sour cream, and cottage cheese, while workers in Seattle process hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk every year, supplying Costco, Walmart, and other grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Miguel Fuentes in front of Darigold facility in Issaquah.
At Darigold, Rob Garberding works at the butter cooler wrapping pellets and loading them into trucks. “I like driving my forklift. It’s not an easy job, but I like making it easy for everyone else,” he says.
For over seven years, Rob has worked with Ernest Batchelor and Miguel Fuentes, both Teamsters of 20 plus years. A few months ago, Ernest and Rob were challenging each other to weight loss. Rob, it seemed, has been doing so well that he’d lost 30 pounds, but Miguel suspected that something was wrong. “He couldn’t swallow food, and it was obvious that he had lost too much weight,” remembers Miguel.
"That’s what being a Teamster is -- when someone needs help, you help them."Read more
Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy together with Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the MLKCLC Nicole Grant
At the recent delegates meeting of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, regular business was suspended for a special event to honor those Unions and their leadership for exceptional achievements on behalf of working people.
Over 150 organizations belong to the Council and more than 75,000 working men and women belong to Council-affiliated organizations. United, they are a voice for the interests of working people in King County.
The leaders and unions that were honored were: Faye Gunther, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 21, Jon Holden, President of The Boeing Machinists Union, and our own John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117.Read more
After months at the bargaining table, Teamsters at Darigold voted to ratify a new five-year contract. The 220 Teamsters at Darigold’s Seattle and Issaquah facilities have been working without a contract since May 31.
The vote, which took place at the Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila on July 23, was 139 in favor of ratification to 7 opposed. The proposal was fully-recommended by the bargaining committee.
The ratification comes after several contentious months of negotiations. Facing an uncertain future, the workers at Darigold stood together in solidarity on several occasions. Twice, the workers voted to authorize a strike. In the end, their strength prevailed, with a strong new contract.
“These workers should be proud of their strength and solidarity throughout the bargaining process,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “Their unwavering support for each other made this deal possible.”
Darigold had proposed dramatic changes to health and welfare benefits. But were ultimately we were able to secure wage and pension increases while maintaining that the employer pays the lion's share of health care cost increases.
"The bargaining team was incredible," said John Scearcy, "the team of Jordan, Brenda, Lonnie, Lisa, Jackie, Marleen, Jason, Henning, Mike, and Bruce stood together until the end."
“This was a complete team effort,” said Mike Esteron, a Darigold employee and member of the union bargaining committee. “the leadership at Local 117 worked side-by-side with the bargaining team to win this contract.”
Last Tuesday, our Union bargaining committee reached a fully-recommended tentative agreement with Darigold over a contract involving 220 dairy workers and lab technicians employed at the company’s processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah.
A contract ratification vote on the agreement will take place this Saturday, July 23, at 10am, 1pm, and 3pm, at the Union hall in Tukwila. You can RSVP for the meetings here.
"Our members at Darigold play an important role in ensuring safe products and safe practices are maintained to provide high-quality dairy products from the farm to your families table," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "We look forward to bringing our members together to discuss and vote on this proposal on Saturday."
Teamster dairy workers gather at the Union hall in Tukwila after taking a final strike vote on July 9.
Darigold production workers and lab technicians at the company’s Seattle and Issaquah milk processing plants voted overwhelmingly to strike on Saturday. The results of the vote were 159 in favor of a strike to 1 opposed. Voting took place at three meetings throughout the day at the Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila.
“We all stand behind each other,” said Henning Jensen, a 27-year Darigold employee and member of the union bargaining committee. “If the company continues to push us, we’ll continue to fight for our rights. We deserve to be treated like human beings.”
After the vote, the workers and community volunteers dispatched to seven area Walmart and Sam’s Club stores to educate consumers about the unfair practices in the plants and the unsafe, unsanitary conditions on the farms that supply Darigold milk. “The farmworkers are treated terribly and the company uses strong-arm tactics to try to intimidate its employees,” Jensen said.Read more
Teamster dairy workers and lab technicians who work at the Darigold processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah and at the Darigold lab in Tukwila will take a final strike vote at meetings throughout the day on Saturday, July 9.
Immediately following the meetings, teams of workers will dispatch into the community to leaflet Darigold customers and inform consumers about Darigold’s unfair practices in the plants and the unsafe, unsanitary working conditions on the farms that supply Darigold’s milk. Workers will meet at the Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila on Saturday at 10 A.M., 1 P.M, and 3 P.M.
Leafleting actions will take place after each of those meetings. Representatives of the media are invited to speak to workers after the 10 A.M. meeting.
John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 117
Darigold Production Workers and Lab Technicians
Darigold Final Strike Vote – Leafleting Action
Saturday, July 9, 2016 10 A.M.
Teamsters Union Hall
14675 Interurban Ave. S. Tukwila, WA 98168
Darigold production workers and lab technicians at the company’s Seattle and Issaquah milk processing plants left federal mediation yesterday on the brink of a labor dispute.
The 220 Teamsters voted unanimously 159-0 to authorize a strike on Saturday, May 21. The workers’ contract expired at midnight on May 31. A final strike vote is tentatively planned for Saturday, July 9.
“Darigold has been a bad actor since locking out its hardworking employees for 9 months back in 2003,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “The company nearly provoked a strike three years ago, and it appears to be heading down that same road again.”Read more
In a massive display of union solidarity, Teamsters who work at the Darigold processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike over the weekend.
The final vote was 163-0. Voting took place at the Teamsters hall in Tukwila throughout the day on Saturday.
"This vote sends a powerful message to the company that Teamsters at Darigold are serious about defending their livelihoods," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117.
Our next scheduled meeting with the company is on May 25. We are also tentatively scheduled to meet on June 1.
Stay informed during contract negotiations! To sign up for text message alerts, text "Teamsters Darigold" to 313131. If you have questions, talk to your Bargaining Committee Member or Business Rep.
Thanks to everyone who showed up and voted on Saturday. Together we will win a fair contract!
Our Union Bargaining Committee will be spreading the word about a strike authorization vote on Sat, May 21.
Our bargaining team was back at the table with Darigold again today and the situation is getting serious.
Our union team is committed to protecting the livelihoods of all Teamsters who work at Darigold and their families. But Darigold is coming after our members' hard-earned wages and benefits.
We will be holding a Strike Authorization Vote for Darigold Teamsters on Saturday, May 21, at 1PM at the Union hall in Tukwila.
If you are a Local 117 member employed at Darigold, please make sure you attend this important meeting, and encourage your co-workers to attend as well.
For text updates, sign up for our union communications text line by texting "Teamsters Darigold" to 313131.
Together, we will win a fair contract!