ICS Teamsters showed unwavering unity and resolve in their fight for a fair contract.
After months of struggle, Teamsters who work at Industrial Container Services (ICS) have achieved a monumental win. Yesterday the group voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract.
The contract contains a 5.2% wage increase in the first year for the majority of the group, paid union orientation for new hires, and healthcare protections for the workers' families, among other improvements.
"We're happy with our new contract," said Abel Garibay Flores. "All of us struggled together for better pay and benefits and it made a difference."
Getting to this point took tremendous courage. With ICS intent on exacting bitter takeaways in bargaining, the group of mostly immigrant workers voted unanimously to authorize a strike and engaged in multiple solidarity actions, including a “just practicing” picket in front of the facility on February 20.
The workers also benefited from an outpouring of community support. Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez marched with a member delegation to deliver a letter to company management demanding fair treatment.
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez standing together with Teamsters at ICS at a solidarity action on March 7.
Meghan Fewins (c), Brea Jermsted (r) together with Union Rep Taylor House (l) at National Police Week in Washington D.C.
Over the last several years, our Union's Executive Board has sent rank-and-file members to National Police Week in Washington D.C. For the event, thousands of law enforcement professionals gather to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
In previous years, members from the ranks at the Port of Seattle, the City of Pacific, and the University of Washington have attended.
This year, Police Dispatcher Meghan Fewins and Communications Officer Brea Jermsted, both of South Sound 911, made the trip. Fewins and Jermsted were involved in dispatching emergency calls when Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney was killed in the line of duty last year.
Fewins and Jermsted took some time after their trip to share their reflections, experience, and gratitude. In a text message sent to her Union Rep, Taylor House, Jermsted wrote:
Fewins chronicled her experiences via email:
Fewins: "We watched Dan’s wife and kids place a flower in the wreath."
Uber and Lyft drivers speak out for fair pay and a voice before their caravan embarks for City Hall.
Ride hail drivers took their vehicles on a slow procession through Seattle neighborhoods today to call for better working conditions at Uber and Lyft. Drivers ended their caravan at Seattle City Hall where they delivered their demands to City officials for fair pay, a due process to appeal deactivations, and a voice.
“We are tired of seeing Uber and Lyft siphon off bigger and bigger percentages of what riders pay,” said Fasil Teka, an Uber driver of 7 years. “It’s time for the City to ensure that drivers have the same rights as all workers in Seattle.”
"It’s time for the City to ensure that drivers have the same rights as all workers in Seattle."
Embarking from the Masjid al-Taqwa mosque in Seattle’s Central District, drivers honked their horns and displayed signs on their vehicles that read, “Share the fare!” and “Uber and Lyft: Listen to your drivers!” The caravan wove through the heart of the city, from the Central District to Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle, neighborhoods with some of the greatest concentrations of ride hail customers.
“We are asking our customers to stand with us in our effort to win fair pay and a voice,” said Lyft driver, Mohamed Sharif. “When drivers are paid a living wage and can stand together to improve driver and passenger safety, our local economy and the entire community benefits.”Read more
The summer issue of our DOC Guardian newsletter is hot off the press!
In this issue, you'll find a recap of the 2019 legislative session in Olympia, which featured a number of critical wins for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.
The highlights include passage of a DOC interest arbitration bill, the full funding of our DOC contract, and the restoration of our right to carry a concealed weapon off duty without having to purchase a permit.
You can access a PDF of the newsletter here; print copies will be distributed by member leaders at your facilities in the coming weeks.
Participants from our first-ever Womxn's Conference gather outside our Union Hall in Tukwila to celebrate after the event.
A powerful spirit of sisterhood coursed through our union hall on Saturday as more than 100 members gathered together for our first-ever Teamsters 117 Womxn's Conference.
Organized by a committee of Teamster women under the banner She/Us/We Rising Together, the conference featured presentations, participatory workshops, and an art show fundraiser for a new scholarship - the Jayme Biendl Working Women's scholarship.
The event raised over $5,000 for the scholarship named after the Local 117 correctional officer who was tragically murdered at her post at the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2011.
"Jayme Biendl paid the ultimate sacrifice for serving and protecting our communities," said Michelle Woodrow, President and Executive Director of Teamsters 117. "This scholarship pays tribute to our fallen Sister and to all of the women across our union who work so hard to support their families."
Our union hall was transformed for the event with colorful banners, artwork, and flowers. State Senator Rebecca Saldaña kicked things off with her inspirational story of rising up from an immigrant family to become a champion of working people in the Washington State legislature.
Senator Saldaña was followed by Elise Bryant, President of the National Coalition of Labor Union Women, whose speech was electric. The audience joined her throughout in intermittent chants and song.
"Don't mistake one moment of darkness for total blindness," she said. "This is the cure, you are the light. This is the food that feeds our soul." You can view Bryant's entire address online here.
"This is the cure, you are the light. This is the food that feeds our soul."
After the speeches, participants attended workshops designed to empower, inform, and inspire. Sessions were held on climate justice, running for office, sexual harassment, and union leadership.
The group reconvened in the main auditorium for lunch and a panel discussion led by Local 117 Union Representative Maria Williams.
Participating on the panel were six powerful labor union leaders: Michelle Woodrow, President and Executive Director of Teamsters 117; Brenda Wiest, Vice President and Legislative Director of Teamsters 117; Tracey Thompson, General Counsel of Teamsters 117; Nina Bugbee, Director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Women's Conference; Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of MLK Labor; and April Sims, Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council.
Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy brought the idea for the conference home from the IBT Women's Conference, which he attended last year. "I was inspired by the power and energy the event brought to our international union," Scearcy said. "I knew we could build on that power by organizing our own conference here at Teamsters 117."
"The whole idea of a Womxn's Conference resonated with me," said Joan Jaeger, a nurse at the Monroe Correctional Complex who attended the event. "This is the first year I've gotten involved in the union and I'm thrilled that it took place."
More good news from Olympia! The Washington State Legislature has fully funded our DOC collective bargaining agreement for the 2019-2021 biennium.
This means that the wage increases achieved in our DOC members' contract through our interest arbitration award are now guaranteed.
Under the award, all Teamster correctional employees will now receive no less than an 8% general wage increase over the next two years.
The award calls for a general increase of 4% effective July 1, 2019 and a 4% increase effective July 1, 2020 for all classifications. In addition, a number of classifications will receive targeted range increases.
Teamsters 117 Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, and Governor Inslee are expected to sign our contract in the middle of June. The contract will take effect on July 1, 2019.
Thank you to the members on our union's negotiations committee who put in many long hours to achieve a strong contract on behalf of all Teamsters at the DOC. Thank you also to so many of you who spoke directly with legislators about the critical nature of corrections work.
Congratulations on this accomplishment.
On the brink of Uber's Wall Street debut, drivers in Seattle joined protests across the country demanding that Uber & Lyft pay drivers a living wage.
Ride-hail companies Uber and Lyft are pocketing an increasing share from what passengers pay while drivers are earning less, according to a new report released today by the App-Based Drivers Association.
The study – based on analysis of company financial reports, combined with never before released trip-level data collected by local drivers in Seattle – was released at a Driver Speak Out event attended by drivers at the Sea-Tac Airport waiting lot.
“As drivers, we make sure our customers get to their destination safely, and we bear all the costs of car, gas, maintenance, repairs – everything,” said Don Creery, who has been driving for Uber for 5 years. “But over the years Uber has been taking more and more from what passengers pay, and now they’re telling investors they plan to reduce driver pay even further to satisfy shareholders. It’s just not right.”
The Speak Out event was one of more than a dozen driver-led actions in major metropolitan areas happening just ahead of Uber’s highly anticipated debut on Wall Street, which is expected to draw a valuation that could top $100 billion. But, while Uber’s IPO may be poised to mint a new generation of overnight tech millionaires, the data shows that drivers are being paid a declining share of what customers are charged.
When Uber and Lyft first came to Seattle, drivers were paid 80 percent of what riders were charged. Today, on the median trip in Seattle, drivers received just 69 percent, according to the ABDA report. And the more riders pay, the less drivers receive.
On a majority of trips analyzed, riders paid higher prices than advertised non-surge UberX rates. On these high-priced trips, drivers received just 62 percent of rider price – the company take was 38 percent. On some trips, driver pay fell to as little as 32 percent of what customers were charged.
Uber and Lyft’s take rates are high relative to other online marketplace platforms.
Paypal charges users 2.9% plus $0.30. Etsy charges merchants 5% plus a listing fee. Mercari charges sellers 10%. Ebay fees are between 2%-12% of sale price. AirBnB fees for hosts and guests combined range between 3%-23% of listing price.
“Consumers deserve price transparency to know that at least 80 percent of what they pay is shared with their driver, not kept by the company for overhead or profits,” said Peter Kuel of the App-Based Drivers Association, who has been an Uber and Lyft driver for 5 years. “Uber and Lyft should meet the same standards of every other business in town, ensuring that drivers can earn paid sick days and never receive less than a $15 minimum wage after expenses.”
See media coverage of the event:
- SEATTLE TIMES: As Uber and Lyft go public, Seattle drivers getting a smaller share of fares, union analysis says
- KING 5: Uber/Lyft drivers protest pay
- KNKX: Ride-share drivers rally at Sea-Tac over low pay before Uber IPO
- GEEKWIRE: Uber driver protests ahead of IPO spell uncertain future for gig economy
- KIRO 7: Local Uber, Lyft drivers protest low wages as others across country strike
- KOMO 4: Uber, Lyft drivers protest in Seattle, across the US
- KING 5: Seattle Uber, Lyft drivers to protest pay amid nationwide strike
- Q13: Uber, Lyft drivers go on strike to protest low pay, event planned at Sea-Tac Airport
- AL JAZEERA: Uber, Lyft drivers strike in cities worldwide ahead of Uber's IPO
- SEATTLE CHINESE TIMES: 隨著Uber和Lyft上市 司機的工資將會愈來愈少？
Teamsters at ICS have participated in multiple solidarity actions over the last few months to force the company to treat them fairly.
Community support has been overwhelming for Teamsters at Industrial Container Services (ICS) who are fighting for a fair contract.
Today Javier Cruz, a representative of OneAmerica, delivered a letter supporting the workers to company management. OneAmerica is the largest immigrant advocacy organization in Washington State.
The photo below shows Cruz flanked by ICS workers as he prepares to deliver the letter:
The OneAmerica letter calls on ICS to restore the previous level of health benefits for ICS workers, cease any labor violations, and immediately resolve its differences with members of Teamsters 117.
"We're supporting workers here because they are immigrants and deserve good wages and the right to negotiate with the company," Cruz said.
"We want better benefits, affordable health insurance for our families, and decent wages so we can survive and pay the rent," said Pedro Ruelas, a four-year employee at the company.
"These workers have shown time and time again that they will fight to protect their livelihoods, but their patience is wearing thin," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "Now it's up to ICS to show them the respect they deserve or suffer the consequences of a drawn-out labor dispute."
Our union's bargaining committee will be back in mediation with ICS on May 23 and 24.
Governor Inslee signs a bill granting interest arbitration rights to Teamsters who work at the WA State Department of Corrections.
It’s a victory a decade in the making.
For ten years, Teamsters across Washington State made phone calls, wrote emails, and met face-to-face with legislators. We rallied on the steps of the state house, spoke out in the press, and marched around the Capitol grounds in Olympia.
Now, after years of perseverance, we have achieved an historic win.
On April 30, Governor Inslee signed a bill that immeasurably expands the rights of 6,000 Teamsters at the Department of Corrections (DOC).
The new law grants our union access to interest arbitration, a right essential to public safety professionals and one that has been denied our members for decades. Making the victory even sweeter, Inslee signed a similar bill on the same day that benefits Teamster officers at the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD).
“Our corrections and law enforcement members put their lives on the line to protect the public,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117, who made passage of the bills a top priority. “Interest arbitration ensures our members are treated with respect.”
"Interest arbitration ensures our members are treated with respect."
Interest arbitration is a complete game-changer when it comes to the power our union can leverage at the bargaining table. Without interest arbitration, we had little recourse when negotiating over issues like wages and working conditions. Not surprisingly, the State exploited its advantage by engaging in frustrating cycles of take-it-or-leave-it bargaining.
These new laws allow our union to push mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral arbitrator if we reach impasse in negotiations.
The ramifications are huge. Over the last three contract cycles, our DOC members have been able to access interest arbitration, first through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Governor, then through a negotiated provision in our contract. With interest arbitration, we have prevented concessions, strengthened language and increased wages for DOC Teamsters by a minimum of 28.3% over six years.
But from the start our goal has always been to codify interest arbitration into State law. “We wanted to ensure these rights could not be stripped away during negotiations, so we made statutory interest arbitration a long-term priority,” Scearcy said.
Getting to the goal wasn’t easy. Ross Hunter, the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee blocked early drafts of the bill. Later, the State Senate lacked the votes to pass the legislation. But thanks in part to our union’s powerhouse political program, the legislative landscape in Washington State shifted in 2018, creating an environment for change.
“We worked hard to elect legislators who were supportive and that approach paid off,” Scearcy said.
Under Scearcy’s leadership, our union made another major push during this year’s legislative session. In 2019, we had our largest, most successful lobby day ever. Over 200 Teamsters and their families converged on the State Capitol to talk with legislators about the need to get the law passed.
Now, after years of determination and hard work, a goal once thought unattainable has become a reality.
“I’m proud to be a Teamster,” said James Deuel, a corrections officer at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. “Interest arbitration levels the playing field with management. It gives us the opportunity to fight for what we want and what we need.”
Teamsters Rod Boettger (r) and Todd Reis (l) meet with Union Representative Cara Mattson to discuss a looming labor dispute at Veritiv.
With a labor dispute looming at Veritiv, 38-year Teamster Roderick Boettger recalls a two-day strike at the company decades ago.
It was a debacle not unlike the current one, with the company dragging its feet in negotiations and clinging to substandard proposals. “They weren’t giving us what we wanted, so we went on strike,” Boettger said.
The strike was short-lived, but the impact on the company was profound. Boetteger remembers the chaos in the shop when his crew returned to work.
“The warehouse was really messed up,” he said. “Forklifts were stuck in the air and stuff was scattered all over the place. It was complete disorder.”
Evidently, the company has not learned its lesson. This time around, they've slow-walked negotiations for eight months and appear to be trying to provoke a strike yet again.
Todd Reis, a Shop Steward on our union’s negotiations committee, called out Veritiv for its hypocrisy. “They tell us how much they care, but then turn around and try to take everything away that we’ve worked hard to keep,” he said.
Reis, Boettger and their co-workers are fed up. The group of warehouse workers and drivers represented by Teamsters 117 and 174 respectively voted unanimously to authorize a strike back in December.
Earlier this month, our two Locals issued a 10-day notice that we would be terminating our contracts with the company.
"We’ll get an idea of how seriously they’re going to take us soon."
Shop Steward Robert Morrison, also on our union’s negotiations team, says the group is disgusted. “We’re ready to go right now. We’ll get an idea of how seriously they’re going to take us soon.”
John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, reiterated this point. “Our members are amped up and ready to strike,” he said. “Veritiv needs to return to negotiations and bargain a fair contract in good faith that respects our members and their families.”
The next negotiations session on April 30 will be telling: Will Veritiv come with reasonable proposals or will they continue to balk at decent treatment of their employees? If it's the latter, they'd better be ready for a fight.