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!
Next week, Teamsters from across the state will be converging on Olympia for our 2019 Legislative Reception and Lobby Day. Over 200 members have registered to join us for the event on February 26-27.
It's shaping up to be another incredible demonstration of Teamster unity, power, and purpose as we meet with legislators to discuss our legislative priorities.
If you are registered and unable to attend, please reach out to Political Director Dustin Lambro right away. You can call him at 206-794-2606 if you need to cancel.
Our Teamsters Lobby Day event starts with a dinner on Tuesday, February 26 at 7:30pm at the RL Hotel in Olympia. Accommodations will be provided for all registered members on the night of February 26.
On the morning of February 27, we will have a lobby training and breakfast before heading over to the Capitol for our appointments with legislators.
Participating members will be receiving a confirmation letter with logistical information and our legislative priorities in the mail prior to the event. All of the information contained in the materials sent to your home, including info about our 2019 legislative agenda, transportation, the hotel, the training, attire, food, and appointments with legislators is available below:
This year we will be discussing the following issues with legislators:
- Funding our 2019-2021 collective bargaining agreement
- Passing statutory interest arbitration
- Fixing the concealed carry law for weapons-trained DOC members
If you have questions, please contact your union representative or feel free to reach out to Dustin at 206-794-2606. Remember if you need to cancel, please contact Dustin right away so that we can make the necessary arrangements.
Thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing you on February 26-27 in Olympia.
Members of Teamsters 117 gather on the steps of the state capitol in Olympia for a Lobby Day rally.
It was an impressive sight - hundreds of Teamsters and their family members gathered on the steps of the legislative building in Olympia for our 2018 lobby day.
Bright yellow scarves with horseheads draped across members’ shoulders. Many held signs that read Honor Our Public Servants and Public Service, Public Safety.
Michelle Woodrow, our union’s president addressed the crowd: “Thank you for your outstanding service and for keeping our communities safe.” View photos from the event here.
Just a short time earlier, Local 117 members had clustered outside the doors of the Senate and House chambers requesting meetings with their legislators.
With a cutoff to pass bills looming, conversations had to be short and direct.
“We just met with Senator Sheldon,” said Sergeant Larry Reeves of the Washington Corrections Center. “He said he would be more than happy to support a bipartisan effort to see if we can get our staffing model audit funded.”
“This is wonderful,” said Fran Deel, a nurse at the Airway Heights Corrections Center who brought her three grandchildren to the event. “I’m here to make sure our rights are represented and to make sure our union has the power to negotiate.”
In addition to calling for an audit of DOC staffing levels, we urged legislators to pass bills that protect the privacy of public employees and give us a better opportunity to welcome new employees into the union.
The day’s activities culminated with a rally on the capitol steps. Newly-elected Teamster councilmember of the City of Burien, Pedro Olguin, fired up the group with a series of chants.
"We are the union. You are the union. We need to take the bull by the horns to fight off these attacks together."
Michelle Woodrow introduced the speakers starting with Representative Roger Goodman, the chair of the House Public Safety Committee. He was followed by three members: Officers Alfredo Cruz, Debra Gordon and Gerry Pinero.
Pinero, who made the trip to Olympia with his wife Angelic, talked about Teamster pride and the need to defend our union. “I started with the Teamsters in 1974 and have always been treated well by the Teamster family fighting for better benefits, better conditions, and better pay.”
“But senior Teamster staff can’t do it alone,” he said. “We are the union. You are the union. We need to take the bull by the horns to fight off these attacks together.”
John Scearcy, our union’s secretary-treasurer, echoed Pinero’s call for unity. “When we stand together, we’re stronger. When we talk about our core values and find out where we align, we can move an agenda. This lobby day is a perfect example of us showing that when we’re committed to each other, we are strong and our voices will be heard.”
REGISTRATION FOR OUR 2018 LOBBY DAY AND LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION ON FEBRUARY 12-13 IN OLYMPIA IS NOW FULL. OVER 200 TEAMSTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES WILL BE ATTENDING!
Some of the critical issues facing Teamsters that we will be discussing with legislators include:
- The need for a comprehensive statewide staffing audit.
- Improving staff safety at all DOC facilities.
- Recognizing the critical community services we provide.
You can view a complete list of our legislative priorities here.
You are invited to a dinner and reception with legislators starting at 7:30pm at the RL Hotel in Olympia on February 12. Accommodations will be provided for all members on the night of February 12, 2018. You must register by Monday, January 15 to be guaranteed a room at the Hotel RL. You may still register after that date, but we cannot guarantee we will have the available rooms.
On the morning of February 13, we will have a lobby training and breakfast before heading over to the Capitol for our appointments with legislators.
It's important that we have an excellent showing at this event as we talk with legislators about the critical services we provide.
Next week, more than two hundred Local 117 members working for the Department of Corrections, along with their families and other supporters, will converge on Olympia with a simple message for legislators: It's time to invest in the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe.
The event kicks off on Monday with a Legislative Reception at the Red Lion Hotel. Members will talk with lawmakers to discuss critical issues facing corrections employees and their families.
The next day, members will meet face-to-face with their legislators at the State Capitol.
In addition to educating legislators about the dangerous work of corrections, we will focus on a few key policy issues.
Our top priority is for the state legislature to invest in corrections employees by funding their contract. Corrections employees put their lives on the line to protect the public, yet they are significantly underpaid for the important public safety work they perform.
Experienced officers, who represent the largest job classification at the state’s Department of Corrections, earn 37 percent less than officers who work at the county level. Other DOC job classifications are similarly underpaid.
The corrections contract contains wage increases for corrections staff that were awarded by an independent arbitrator and deemed financially feasible by the state’s Office of Financial Management.
We will also be asking the legislature to fund an external audit of staffing levels in all Washington state prisons. The Department of Corrections operates under a staffing model that is dangerously outdated. An external audit would identify parts of the system that are understaffed and make recommendations for improvements.
Finally, we need to fix the Public Records Act to protect the personal information of DOC employees. Many corrections employees are harassed by felons who obtain their information through public disclosure.
A bill (SB 5326) before the Washington State Senate would allow prison staff to seek legal damages if their information is used for nefarious purposes.
If you have registered for this event, you should have received a packet with logistical information and an overview of our legislative priorities. If you have any questions, please contact our Political Coordinator, Dustin Lambro, at 1-800-872-3489 ext. 1262.
Thanks to everyone who is taking time off work and away from your families to attend. This is going to be a great event. See you next week!