During contract negotiations, we are most effective when we are united. Our unity allows us to achieve higher wages, better working conditions, and a safer workplace for all Teamsters.
The last thing we need when we’re bargaining with the State or any other employer is for an outside group to try to divide us. But that’s exactly what the so-called “Freedom” Foundation is trying to do.
The “Freedom” Foundation is an anti-worker think tank that has used lax public disclosure laws to get ahold of the personal information of our members at the Department of Corrections. Now they’re using that information to send DOC members mailers trying to trick them into abandoning their union.
In a mailer sent this week, they claim members lose nothing by abandoning their membership. The truth is you have everything to lose – your wages, your benefits, and your power to negotiate a strong contract.
The Freedom Foundation fought AGAINST wage increases for DOC Teamsters. They want to privatize public services and outsource public sector jobs.
The best way we can protect ourselves is by standing together. Talk to your co-workers and make sure they don’t fall for the misleading information.
Show the Freedom Foundation that we are united and won’t be manipulated. If you haven't done so already, sign a commitment card to protect your freedom to have a strong contract and a strong union.
If you have questions, please talk to your Shop Steward or Union Representative or visit www.FamilyStrengthCommunity.org.
This week is National Correctional Officers Week, a time to honor Teamster correctional officers as well as all other DOC Teamsters who serve communities across Washington State.
These are the workers who staff our state’s prisons. They are officers, sergeants, nurses, counselors, psychologists, chaplains, dentists, clerical staff, maintenance staff, and many others. They perform challenging, oftentimes dangerous work to serve the public and keep all of us safe.
Corrections is vital public service, yet corrections employees often receive little recognition for the critical work they perform. Few people know what goes on behind prison walls and many have misconceptions based on negative portrayals in movies and the media.
The truth is that corrections employees are everyday heroes. They put their lives on the line every day to oversee, train, counsel, rehabilitate, and care for convicted felons.
Many are veterans who have served our country in the military and are continuing their public service back home. They are often the first to volunteer when disaster strikes as our members did during the Oso landslide disaster in 2014. They volunteer in their kids’ schools, coach little league baseball, lend a hand at local food banks, and are an active force in building strong, safe communities.
Thank you Teamster corrections employees for your integrity, professionalism, character, and strength as you perform essential, challenging work in a dangerous environment. We are grateful for your service.
Last week the so-called “Freedom” Foundation sent out a mailer to all DOC Teamsters trying to stop us from signing commitment cards that strengthen our union.
The Freedom Foundation is an anti-union think tank funded by wealthy special interests. They want to convince us not to sign the cards so they can weaken our ability to stand together for better wages and benefits.
They’ve used lax public disclosure laws to get ahold of your personal information. Now they’re trying to divide DOC staff at a critical time - just as our union’s contract negotiations are getting started with the State. They’re using the expected ruling on the Janus court case to weaken our union.
Don’t be fooled! The Freedom Foundation has fought AGAINST wage increases for DOC Teamsters. Their goal is to defund our union, privatize public services, and outsource public sector jobs.
With DOC contract negotiations and the Janus ruling coming up, it’s more important than ever for us to stand together, stay united, and commit to each other.
Show the “Freedom” Foundation that we will not be fooled and weakened by their tactics. Click here to sign a commitment card and protect your freedom to stand together with your co-workers for a strong union.
Learn more at www.FamilyStrengthCommunity.org.
Our DOC bargaining committee met with the State on May 2 to begin negotiations over our 2019-2021 contract.
Our outstanding bargaining team of 21 rank-and-file DOC Teamsters gathered yesterday at the union hall in Tukwila to finalize our proposals for upcoming contract negotiations.
“We looked over the contract and determined what articles we would open based on the wishes of the members,” said Becky HaneyNixon, a classification counselor at the Washington State Penitentiary.
“I think we’re going to have really good representation,” added Lynn Kunkle, a registered nurse at the Monroe Correctional Complex. “We’re not here for one, we’re here for all.”
Sergeants, officers, nurses, counselors, cooks, a mechanic, a pharmacy technician, and a ferry operator will join union representatives and our union’s legal counsel to negotiate with the State over your 2019-2021 DOC contract.Read more
Brothers and Sisters -
As your union's Secretary-Treasurer, I've had the privilege over the last several weeks to attend many of the contract proposal meetings across the state as we prepare for upcoming negotiations over our 2019-2021 Department of Corrections contract.
At those meetings, I spoke with many of you about the challenges you face in the workplace and improvements you would like to see in our contract.
I want to thank you personally for talking openly about your concerns. The input that so many of you provided, both at our meetings and in contract surveys, has been invaluable in helping our union bargaining team develop meaningful proposals for these negotiations.
Negotiations with the State officially get underway next week. On Tuesday, May 1, our union team, which consists of 21 member leaders from facilities across the state, will meet independently to finalize our proposals. We will be across the table from the State for the first time on May 2.Read more
As contract proposal meetings for Local 117 members who work at the Department of Corrections have come to a close, please welcome the rank-and-file members of your DOC Bargaining Committee.
They are volunteer Shop Stewards from across the state representing a comprehensive range of DOC positions. Together with union staff, they will be sitting across the table from the State over the next several months to negotiate over our 2019-2021 DOC collective bargaining agreement.
Negotiations will begin on May 1-2. All negotiations will take place at our Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila. Here is the schedule for negotiations:
- May 1-2
- May 23-24
- June 5-6
- June 20-21
- July 10-11
- July 17-18
- July 23-27 (Mediation, if necessary)
- August 22-31 (Interest Arbitration hearing, if necessary)
Sgt Jason Heuer, a Shop Steward at MCC, is well versed in the rights and protections that our Dept. of Corrections contract provides.
The life of a steward at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) keeps you on your toes. Jason Heuer, a sergeant at the facility who joined the steward ranks in March 2017, spent the better part of his day last week defending the contractual rights of his fellow members.
He dealt with an investigation, handled a discipline case, and juggled a number of grievances. Heuer, who knows his CBA inside and out, preaches the power and value of our contract.
"There's a lot of information in there that protects our members," he said. "My job as a steward is to ensure that management is being straight and that our rights are not being violated."
Heuer showed up to a contract proposal meeting this week with a couple of suggestions for our union bargaining team as we head into negotiations with the State this spring.
Wage increases, a more solid retirement, and suggested changes to unscheduled leave reporting are all issues he brought to the fore.
"Come in and speak your voice. That's what being part of a union is all about."
Heuer was happy to hear that the leave issue in Article 23 of the DOC contract is already being addressed through a demand to bargain. He was also pleased that we achieved funding in the state budget for an audit of staffing levels at the DOC. "That's something I've been pushing for at least 10 years," he said.
On the retirement front, our union's Political Director, Dustin Lambro, is putting together a member Task Force to begin to tackle the issue. Better retirement security is a major concern for DOC Teamsters. No one in their 60s, after 35 years of service, should have to go toe-to-toe with a violent inmate.
Getting the system changed will be a heavy lift and will require member political engagement on a massive scale. If you'd like to participate on our Retirement Task Force, please contact Dustin at email@example.com. Union Reps are also asking for volunteers at the contract proposal meetings taking place around the state over the next two weeks.
"These meetings are absolutely critical," Heuer said. "Come in and speak your voice. That's what being part of a union is all about."
Teamster corrections employees rally on the steps of the state capitol in Olympia on February 13.
The spring issue of our Guardian newsletter is hot off the press! In this issue, you can get caught up on the following stories impacting Teamsters who work at the Department of Corrections:
- Strong turnout at our DOC Lobby Day
- DOC stewards preparing for upcoming contract negotiations
- A successful legislative session in Olympia
- New DOC union representative, Amy Ford
You can access the Guardian online; print copies will be distributed at our upcoming contract proposal meetings over the next two weeks.
DOC Shop Stewards gather to build power and unity and at the Teamsters hall on March 16.
Dozens of our shop stewards who work for the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) gathered at the union hall in Tukwila today for training, discussion, and preparation for upcoming contract negotiations.
The event was the part of our annual shop steward seminar, which will bring all Local 117 stewards together tomorrow, March 17, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
Today’s program kicked off with a review of the roles and responsibilities of shop stewards. The group brainstormed best practices for confronting management and for defending members’ rights under the contract.
Our union’s political team, Dustin Lambro and Brenda Wiest, talked about our recent successes in Olympia this legislative session. Most notably, we were able to achieve funding in the state budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the DOC, something we have been fighting for over the last several years.
Stewards devoted some of the training to preparing for open shop, which we expect will be coming to the DOC and other public sector workplaces this spring. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the Janus v AFSCME case, which will likely change the rules for public sector union members and threatens our right to stand together for strong contracts.
“My main goal is to make sure that everybody is on board to commit to keep our union strong,” said Teresa Bennett, a pharmacy technician with over 20 years with the state. “I remind my co-workers - the union isn’t only about protecting people who get in trouble. It’s about better health care, better wages, and better working conditions. At the pharmacy, if the union hadn’t been there to negotiate, the state would have probably gotten rid of our jobs.”
"My main goal is to make sure that everybody is on board to commit to keep our union strong."
The DOC steward's program concluded with a strategy session to prepare for upcoming DOC contract negotiations, which are scheduled to get started this May.
“Teamsters who work in corrections put their lives on the line to protect the public,” said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. “Our stewards are the first line of defense. They enforce our contract, engage in tough negotiations with management, keep the membership informed, and have each other’s backs. Their service is indispensable to the strength and power of our union.”
We did it! Thanks to your efforts, the legislature allocated funding in the state budget for an external audit of staffing levels at the Department of Corrections.
The Department has been operating under a staffing model that has not been reviewed in 30 years. An external audit of DOC staffing levels is an important step toward making our prisons safer for DOC Teamsters.
This is OUR victory. It's something we've been working towards as a union for the past four years. All of your lobby visits, phone calls and emails to legislators made the difference.
Thank you for your hard work and congrats!
You can access a complete report from the 2018 legislative session to learn about other legislative accomplishments that impact Local 117 members.