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.
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.
Faith-based and community leaders join with workers at ICS who are struggling for justice and respect.
Community pressure on Industrial Container Services (ICS) continues to intensify.
An interfaith delegation of religious leaders and representatives from community groups joined with workers to deliver a letter yesterday calling on the company to respect the rights of ICS employees and bargain a contract in good faith.
Members of the delegation took turns offering prayer and a message of solidarity with the workers as the group waited in the ICS lobby for management to receive the delegation and "open the doors of justice."
"I wanted to be here with my voice and my presence today to stand behind these workers and their courage because what they need and what they want for their families is important," said Tana Powell of the Valley and Mountain United Methodist Church.
"Our community is standing in unity with Teamsters at ICS."
Workers at ICS have been struggling over the last several months for a contract that honors their work and respects their right to a clean, healthy working environment.
During negotiations, ICS unilaterally changed its employees' health care plan and allegedly engaged in unlawful surveillance of workers during a peaceful protest on February 22.
On March 7, Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez met with workers and delivered a letter to ICS management urging the company to negotiate a living wage, affordable health care, and retirement security for members of Teamsters 117.
"Our community is standing in unity with Teamsters at ICS," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "This company needs to understand that we are stronger when all workers can afford to put food on the table for their families, take their kids to the doctor, and not have to worry about exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace."
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."
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.