Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez joins Teamsters 117 members at ICS to fight for a safe, healthy workplace.
Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez led a delegation of our members yesterday to confront management at Industrial Container Services (ICS) over alleged violations of federal law and proposals to slash health care.
Councilmember Gonzalez delivered a letter to the company calling on ICS to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract in good faith that includes "a living wage, affordable health care, and retirement security" for the Local 117 members.
"I am the daughter of immigrants - my parents are from Michoacan, Mexico," Councilmember Gonzalez said as she addressed the mostly immigrant workers after the action.
"I grew up as a migrant farmworker in central Washington State. I understand what it's like to work in a dirty environment where we don't have all of the rights we deserve and to worry about our safety and health. I'm here to support you and your ability to fight for a fair contract and to ensure that you have a safe workplace."
"Thank you to Councilmember Gonzalez for standing together with our members at ICS," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "The community will not tolerate an employer that compromises the health and safety of its workforce and pushes its employees to the brink of a labor dispute. We will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and safety until our members at ICS are treated with respect."
DOC Teamsters rally on the Capitol steps in Olympia after their visits with legislators.
More good news from Olympia. Our bill (HB 1589) that restores the right for trained DOC personnel to carry a concealed weapon unanimously passed out of the State House of Representatives yesterday on a vote of 97-0.
HB 1589 corrects problems with the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act that would have required DOC employees to pay for and undergo an additional background check in order to carry their concealed weapons in WA state.
The bill ensures corrections personnel are eligible to carry a concealed weapon so long as they have received weapons training and a background check performed by the Department in the last five years.
The change in the law is needed because a problem with the existing statute invalidated our DOC Peace Officer Identification Cards.
We have not crossed the finish line yet - we still need a majority of Senators to approve the bill and a signature from the Governor, but this is a critical step toward achieving our goal.
Thank you to everyone who spoke with their legislators on this critical issue. Please consider sending your State Representatives an email thanking them for their support.
Our annual Shop Steward Seminar and Appreciation Day is slated for this weekend when hundreds of rank-and-file leaders from across our Union will be gathering at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle on Saturday.
DOC Stewards will be meeting on Friday at our Union Hall in Tukwila starting at 11:30 A.M. for an afternoon of training before Saturday's main event. See the agenda for the DOC meeting here.
All Stewards will meet at the Convention Center starting at 7:30 A.M. for breakfast followed by workshops and training on Saturday. The event will wrap up at 1:30 P.M. after lunch. View an agenda for Saturday's Seminar here.
Over the course of the two days, we'll be talking about building union power and unity and ways to lift up our communities so that all workers have a strong voice.
It's looking to be an exciting event. Special guest James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, will be on hand to welcome the Stewards.
Over lunch, Steve Vairma, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Vice-President at Large, and April Sims the newly-elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will address the group.
If you are a Shop Steward, you should have received an invitation to the Seminar with information about what to expect at the event. If you have not yet confirmed or need to cancel, please contact Madeline Shumate at 206-441-4860 x1225.
If you have questions about logistics, please reach out to your Union Representative.
We have fantastic news from Olympia tonight. Our bill (SB 5021) granting interest arbitration rights to Teamsters who work at the Washington State Department of Corrections passed unanimously out of the Senate.
This is a major victory for DOC Teamsters who have been fighting for statutory interest arbitration since 2010. It is also a testament to all of the members and their families who met with their legislators last week at our Lobby Day event.
Clearly, your voice made a tremendous impact. We still need a majority of representatives in the House to vote in favor of the legislation and a signature from the Governor, but passage in the Senate puts us a huge step closer to achieving our goal.
If you met with your State Senator last week and asked them to support interest arbitration for DOC, please send an email thanking them for their support.
Interest arbitration levels the playing field for union members working in public safety professions who don't have the ability to strike. It allows us to take mandatory subjects of bargaining to a neutral third-party arbitrator if we reach impasse with the State in contract negotiations.
Employees of other public safety agencies such as the Washington State Patrol and county corrections have access to interest arbitration. Now is the time to win interest arbitration for our members working in corrections and at the University of Washington Police Department.
A show of force on the Capitol steps in Olympia: DOC Teamsters fight for higher pay and interest arbitration.
Teamster corrections employees rallied in Olympia on Wednesday to push for safer workplaces and safer communities.
The group of more than 175 members and their families met with legislators throughout the day as part of our annual Lobby Day. The event culminated on the steps of the State Capitol with members holding signs that read, "Invest in Corrections Employees" and "Public Safety, Public Service".
"It's a great day to be a Teamster," said Samuel Coleman, a correctional officer at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton who spoke at the rally. "We're here today to fight for safety, interest arbitration, and higher pay."
"We're here today to fight for safety, interest arbitration, and higher pay."
Members called on lawmakers to fund the Department of Corrections (DOC) and University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) contracts and to pass legislation granting interest arbitration rights to both groups.
Interest arbitration will level the playing field in negotiations, improve staff safety, and ensure that these employees are fairly compensated. It gives them access to the same rights as other public safety personnel, such as the Washington State Patrol and county police, corrections, and firefighters.
Funding the DOC and UWPD contracts will create greater equity and boost morale. It will also help with recruitment and retention, which leads to more experienced staff and a safer working environment.
"Teamster corrections employees and officers at the UWPD serve and protect all of us," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. "The State needs to invest in the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. That starts with funding the DOC and UWPD contracts and passing interest arbitration for both groups."
Thank you to all of the members who participated in this year's Lobby Day. Special thanks to Officer Samuel Coleman, Carrie Hesch, a recreational specialist at WCCW, and Lynn Kunkle, a registered nurse at MCC, for speaking so powerfully at the rally.
Please be sure to call the Legislative Hotline in Olympia at 1-800-562-6000 and tell your legislators to fund our DOC and UWPD contracts, pass interest arbitration, and restore the right of trained DOC personnel to carry a concealed weapon. Your voice makes all the difference!
Teamsters at ICS are sick of company bullying. They're united and ready to take strike action to defend their livelihoods.
The message was loud and clear, scrawled on the dust masks our members at Industrial Container Services (ICS) wore today as they sanitized and refurbished steel barrels for reuse: Don't make me sick, ICS.
The company wants its Teamster employees to take a major hit on their health and welfare coverage with significant increases to their out-of-pocket medical expenses. In negotiations, ICS is trying to impose an inferior medical plan and they are providing little notice about enrollment.
Members are sick of the company's bullying tactics. Before this morning's safety meeting, the workers gathered in the breakroom, put on the masks and attached stickers to their hardhats that read, "Ready to strike!"
Last Friday, the group voted unanimously to authorize a strike and is prepared to disrupt production unless the company changes its approach at the bargaining table.
"ICS needs to do the right thing and return to negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "This is difficult, dangerous work where our members are exposed to toxic fumes and the risk of injury is high. The last thing this company should be doing is degrading our members' health care coverage."
UPDATE - FEB. 22, 2019:
On Wednesday, our members at ICS raised Just Practicing pickets in front of the company during their lunch break. Check out a few photos from the action below:
Power, unity and resolve: Teamsters at ICS gather outside our Union Hall after a unanimous strike vote.
Teamsters at Industrial Container Services (ICS) are not backing down. After months of being bullied by their employer in contract negotiations, the group is fighting back. Today after an update from their union committee on the company’s substandard proposals, members voted unanimously to authorize a strike.
With the vote, the group sends an unequivocal message to their employer that they are united and won’t be jerked around. “All of us are united in demanding that they negotiate fairly,” said Abel Flores, a nine-year employee at the company. “We need them to respect our rights, and we need to see improvements in their proposals.”
ICS has refused to engage in meaningful negotiations and made unilateral changes to working conditions, laying the groundwork for a possible ULP strike.
What's more, ICS wants members to take a major step backwards on their health and welfare coverage while at the same time they want to hitch members' wages to the minimum required under the law. They’ve even tried to divert previously agreed to retirement contributions from the existing contract into their new wage proposals.
The group is not having any of it. “It’s not fair that they’re treating us like this, under these conditions,” said Iduviges Castro Sanchez, an eight-year employee. “If they won’t come to a fair agreement with our Union, we’re ready to strike.”
"If they won’t come to a fair agreement with our Union, we’re ready to strike."
Teamsters at ICS are no stranger to a fight. In 2014, they showed tremendous courage in standing up to their employer to get organized.
Before joining Teamsters 117, the workers’ only water source was a rusty pipe. Their break room was a filthy wreck of battered lockers, and they had no sanitary place to wash their hands. These abhorrent conditions were worsened by a workplace rife with toxic chemicals workers are exposed to as they sanitize and refurbish barrels containing industrial waste.
With a Union, workers had a voice over their wages and working conditions. Joining Teamsters also led to extraordinary changes including a new break room, new lockers, and a new, clean water dispensary. Now the company is provoking the workers once again, and like before, the workers are prepared to stand up and fight.
In this issue, you'll find an overview of our goals for the 2019 legislative session in Olympia as well as the status of the bills we are tracking.
Other highlights include a tribute to Richard Coleman, an officer at the Washington State Penitentiary, who is retiring this month as well as the announcement of Legislative Director Brenda Wiest as the new Vice President of our Union's Executive Board.
You can view the new Guardian online here. Print copies will be distributed over the next few weeks by a committee of shop stewards and member leaders.
If you would like to volunteer to help distribute the Guardian or have an article to contribute, please reach out to your Union Representative.
In Olympia, nurses from across the state are standing together to support a law that would make our workplaces safer. The proposed legislation (HB 1155/SB 5190) would allow front-line caregivers to take uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.
At DOC, fatigue isn’t just a worker issue, it’s a safety issue. When DOC medical staff are chronically exhausted and overworked, the safety of the entire facility is put at risk.
Employers and management are trying to weaken protections for nurses by introducing a competing bill (SB 5344) that doesn’t solve the problem. We need to reject that proposal and send a resounding message to legislators that we support safer, more secure conditions for DOC nursing staff.
TAKE ACTION NOW! Find your legislators online, and send them an email telling them to support HB 1155 and SB 5190 and oppose SB 5344. You can copy and paste the message below or draft your own message.
Thank you for standing together with Teamster nurses!
Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy (l), Organizing Co-Director Pedro Olguin (c), and Tyson Lapilio (r) at the Memphis MLK March
Tyson Lapilio, a Teamster at Republic Services, joined Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy and Organizing Co-Director Pedro Olguin in Memphis for the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division conference earlier this month. Lapilio penned this excellent piece capturing his experiences at the event: