Brothers and Sisters:
Over the last several months, we have seen some exciting developments for Teamsters at the DOC:
- Funding was secured in the State’s supplemental budget to open the new medium unit at the Washington State Penitentiary;
- The State Auditor’s office announced that it would be conducting a full-scale performance audit of the DOC that will examine staffing levels and other issues;
- Rep. Mike Sells urged the Attorney General’s office to provide an opinion regarding supplemental pension that could positively impact DOC members’ retirement security;
- Teamsters 117 members testified in numerous hearings in Olympia in support of bills that impact DOC families;
- DOC Shop Stewards achieved record returns on contract surveys for upcoming negotiations.
On January 28, dozens of DOC Shop Stewards met with their state representatives as a part of our first lobby day of the 2014 legislative session.
Here's what they had to say about why it's important to get involved:
“I see the fiber of state employees slowly eroding away. If I don’t take action myself, how can I expect other people to? I’m doing what I can to support the DOC family. We are the ones who make the prisons go. We’re keeping the public safe.”
- Thomas Orth, AHCC Sergeant
“My most important issue is staff safety. I’m a Teamster, and I want to let legislators know that we have a vote. When we show them that our vote matters, they will lend us their ear.”
- Stevie Fonseca, WCCW Classification Counselor
“We’ve all got ideas, we’ve all got opinions, we’ve all got answers, we’ve all got solutions, but if we don’t voice them, nobody is going to hear us.”
- Chris Hallgren, MCC CO
“The more we call and visit our legislators, the more minds we can change. The people in Olympia don’t work in this environment. They need to hear about it.”
- Steven Worden, WSP CO
“Legislators need to hear from the sergeants and the officers who do the work. We are the union. Teamsters 117 is our avenue for that, but if we don’t make our voices heard, they won’t get the message.”
- James Palmer, MCC Sergeant
“Being part of the Teamsters is a good feeling. It’s very uplifting for me. I feel like together we can accomplish a lot if we get involved.”
- Teresa Bennett, WSP Pharmacy Tech
“A lot of people think that nothing’s happening. People want raises, they want better retirement. Now we’ve got interest arbitration. If we get something in this next contract, a lot of eyes will open and I think more people will get involved.”
- Kellon Cunningham, CRCC CO2
“You don’t realize the impact you make until you’ve been there. Legislators will listen to you. What you have to say does mean something to them.”
- Ronny Matsen, SCCC Sergeant
This week the House and Senate released their supplemental budget proposals, and there is some good news for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.
Both the House and Senate have joined Governor Inslee in calling for $5 million in funding for the opening of the 256-bed medium security unit at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla to reduce prison overcrowding. Overcrowding, particularly at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, has led to serious safety and security issues for correctional employees, with offenders packed into cells and in some cases having to sleep on the floor.
So the news on funding to open the new units is a welcomed relief.Read more
The new issue of your Teamsters 117 Report from Olympia is now available! This is the third update from the 2014 legislative session.
The new report shares news and information about the following topics:
- Paid Sick Days (HB 1313);
- DOC funding in the Governor's supplemental budget;
- Our second Teamsters Lobby Day of the 2014 session;
- A blow-by-blow account of developments on policy in our Olympia News Ticker.
For print copies of the report, talk to your Business Representative.
Teamsters 117 was back in Olympia today to speak out in support of issues that are important to working families. Together with members of several other Teamster Locals, Local 117 members met with their legislators to discuss raising the minimum wage, passing a paid sick days bill, and protecting workers against wage theft.
"This is the second time that I've done a Lobby Day, and I had a lot of fun the first time," said Jess Turney, a 2-year Teamster at Fisheries Supply in Seattle. "I think the strength of the Teamsters is activism and the membership has to participate in order for the union to be strong and for us to accomplish our goals."
Local 117 members continued to lobby their State Senators on a bill (HB 2152) that would allow Teamster taxi drivers the choice to opt into the State's Labor & Industries system. On February 7, the bill passed out of the House by a vote of 93-1, and it is now working its way through the Senate.
Members also discussed the need to alleviate prison overcrowding and to address other safety and security-related issues for our state's correctional employees.
Today's event was organized by the Joint Council of Teamsters 28, an organization of 12 Teamster Locals in Washington, Alaska, and Northern Idaho.
We have some great news out of Olympia! Representative Cyrus Habib's proposed legislation (HB 2152) that would lift the Labor & Industries requirement for taxi cab operators has just passed the State House of Representatives on a vote of 93-1!
The Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association (WWTCOA) and the Teamsters have been working hard to pass the bill since the start of legislative session on January 13. WWTCOA members testified at a Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing on January 16, and dozens of drivers spoke to their representatives about the importance of the bill at our Teamster Lobby Day on January 28.
The next big fight will be in the Senate, where we will need to speak out in legislative hearings and meet with our State Senators. Under the bill, drivers would still have the option to participate in the State's L & I insurance program, but they could opt out if they so desired.
The new issue of our Local 117 Report from Olympia is now available.
This bi-weekly newsletter provides the latest updates on bills and initiatives from the 2014 legislative session that impact Teamster families.
This issue contains updates on:
- HB 1313 - the paid sick leave bill;
- HB 2152 - the taxi Labor & Industries bill;
- News about a full-scale performance audit of the DOC;
- News from our Teamster Lobby Day on January 28
For print copies of the newsletter, talk to your Business Representative.
Thank you to the many members who spoke with legislators in support of HB 2421, Representative Schmick’s bill, which would fund a study of DOC staffing levels. While the bill has been pulled from executive session and will not be moving forward this year, lawmakers have given good reason for doing so.
After speaking today with the State Auditor’s office, Representative Schmick, and legislators on the House Public Safety Committee, we have learned that the bill was pulled because a comprehensive performance audit of the DOC, which had been on hold due to pending litigation, is now underway.Read more
Representative Mike Sells of the 38th Legislative District has sent a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson requesting a legal opinion regarding supplemental pension options for state employees that exist outside of the state's plans.
The letter is similar to one that the Teamsters 117 Legal Department sent to Ferguson after he was elected in 2012.
An opinion by the AG's office would determine whether or not we are permitted under current state law to negotiate the Teamsters pension as an option into the DOC contract that can be voted on by the membership.Read more
Teamster 117 members from all corners of Washington State converged on Olympia today for the first Local 117 lobby day of the 2014 legislative session.
Members came from as far as Spokane, Walla Walla, the Tri-Cities, Clallam Bay, Aberdeen, Monroe, Vancouver and many other locations to speak with their legislators about critical issues facing Teamster families.Read more