Teamsters at ABG, who score among the highest in the nation for their customer service, voting yes on a strong contract.
Teamsters at Avis Budget Group, Inc who work at SeaTac Airport have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new 5-year contract. The group of approximately 150 customer service agents and sales representatives met last week to approve the proposal. They have been in bargaining since May of this year and even as the company was sluggish in their response, the group was successful in achieving wage and pension increases, sick leave improvements and bargaining unit work protections.
"As the economy is set to be shaky in the next few years, we value the security of a good contract."
“We are very happy to lock the wage increases in for five years,” said Sean Reis, a Teamster shop steward and a service agent at Avis. “As the economy is set to be shaky in the next few years, we value the security of a good contract.”
This group of Teamsters services millions of customers passing through SeaTac Airport. The pressure on them is high to keep lines of clients satisfied, yet their performance is top-notch and customer reviews rank them in the highest tier across the country. Teamsters at Avis feel this contract is a reflection of their hard work.
“I’ve worked here for 30 years,” concludes Reis. “This contract is among the best we’ve had.”
Nurto Abdi directing traffic at the rental car parking building of Sea-Tac Airport.
At Sea-Tac Airport, Fleetlogix unjustly terminated Nurto Abdi, and it was subsequently overturned during the grievance process. The day the disputed incident took place, Abdi was driving the rental car a customer had just dropped off. She stopped at the gate and the light flashed green, swinging the gate arm open. Abdi drove forward but immediately felt a jolt. When she got out, she saw that the lower part of the gate had malfunctioned and hit the car.
Abdi’s employer, Fleetlogix, didn’t hear her out and quickly fired her. English not being her first language, she wrote a statement in her native language and with the help of her co-worker Burhan Farah, a union leader at her workplace and her union representative Takele Gobena filed a grievance. Soon after she had to leave the country responding to a family emergency.
Meanwhile, the company pushed to process the grievance in her absence without giving her the chance to be heard. Fleetlogix has already been sanctioned by the NLRB in the past for intimidating workers who were wearing buttons supporting their union. Working together, union leader Farah and union representative Gobena did not let the employer proceed without Abdi’s presence.
Abdi worked at Sea-Tac Airport for nearly 15 years.
When she was back in the United States, the Board of Adjustment meeting lasted four long hours. Abdi and Farah had to face Fleetlogix VP, CEO and CFO who specifically flew in to challenge Abdi’s rights. Still, this list of company executives did not help their case -- Abdi got her job back and her seniority was restored.
“I felt appreciated in so many ways,” reflected Farah. “As immigrants and women of color, we are vulnerable in this and most jobs we might take. It is being part of the union that protects us. It was empowering for our entire team to see someone like us standing up to men in power. The company needs us, and we need a union. It was a battle, but in the end the victory was sweet.”
“This is not just my victory, but also one for all the people who work at Fleetlogix,” Abdi concluded. “I am grateful for the energy and time my union representative and my coworker put in to work on my case.”
Teamsters Marcel Zanze, Local 117 Rep Takele Gobena, and Floro Carig celebrating their victory at Hertz.
When Marcel Zanze, a trained geologist, first came to the US, he put his education on hold and rolled up his sleeves to work for Hertz at the airport rental car facility. His family needed him to provide a steady income, and he has done so for 15 years cleaning and maintaining rental cars.
“I never thought I would last here for even 5 months, but now I want my daughter to look up to me for being a hard worker who persevered through tough times,” he said.
Though the job was providing a sustained living, every penny mattered.
In November 2013, Seatac became the first city to pass a $15 minimum wage ordinance that Teamsters wore out shoes knocking on doors to pass. Since then, Marcel’s wages have been slowly catching up with the new minimum wage.
In January of this year, the union-negotiated a 20 cent per hour increase which was set to kick in, but when Marcel looked at his paycheck, he saw none of that.
With Hertz withholding his wage increase, Marcel’s team spoke out with the help of their union rep, Takele Gobena.
At first, the Company tried to deny the validity of their request, but they were forced to reach out to their contract negotiator who had already retired in another state. The negotiator, however, only confirmed Marcel’s claim.
This week, Hertz is paying back upwards of $34,000 in retroactive pay to its workers. Wage increases will also take place in 2019 and 2020.
“The only time I skipped work was during the snowstorm of ’08,” said George Gapasin, Marcel’s co-worker of 15 years. “I work hard and put money aside to visit my family in Japan. This payout will put me one step closer to this goal.”
With the rise in housing prices and the cost of living, this is not the end of the fight for Marcel.
The Teamsters contract at Hertz expires in 2020, and he will be at the table negotiating to further improve his wages and working conditions.
Last week the Port of Seattle Commission voted to approve an agreement to officially end taxi contractor Eastside for Hire’s “Pay-to-Work” fleet reduction plan, and provide stability for the remainder of Eastside’s contract with the Port.
Union taxi and flat-rate drivers celebrated the victory and vowed to continue to take action through their union to have a voice at work.
Back in April, taxi contractor Eastside for Hire announced the “Pay-to-Work” scheme by giving drivers just 5 days to make a choice – either agree to pay $9,000, or lose your job at the airport.
"What kept me going is the belief in fighting for our rights in this country."
Facing this impossible choice, over 200 drivers joined in a job action protesting the “Pay-to-Work” scheme. Taking action was a risk since some drivers had already been suspended by the company following a protest of exorbitant fees and unsanitary working conditions the previous year.
One of them was Worku Belayneh. “What kept me going is the belief in fighting for our rights in this country,” he said.
Before taking action, drivers made a commitment to each other that they refused to be divided. Instead this religiously and culturally diverse community stood united in their union, and packed Port Commission meetings time and time again to share their stories.
Throughout the campaign, drivers’ solidarity and commitment to each other was put to the test. Following one Port Commission meeting at which drivers testified, Eastside for Hire announced 30 day termination notices for 29 vehicles and their drivers.
"We could never have achieved this without the union."
But, drivers did not back down. They rallied behind “The Sea-Tac 29” and raised their voices louder.
In the end, drivers’ strength and unity raised their plight to the top of the list on a busy Commission agenda even in a time of rapid airport expansion. The Port Commissioners understood that they had to act on this pressing issue.
Under the agreement approved last week,
- Eastside for Hire is prohibited from increasing driver fees for the remainder of their contract with the Port. In fact, driver fees will decrease by $95 per week in June of 2019.
- Eastside for Hire cannot terminate any driver for prior actions they took protesting the “Pay-to-Work” fleet reduction plan.
- The Port retains the sole discretion to determine the number of vehicles in the fleet, and will not reduce the fleet size for the remainder of the Eastside contract except in cases of either 1) voluntary departures, or 2) future terminations “for cause.”
- Eastside for Hire’s contract will end on September 30, 2019.
“We could never have achieved this victory without the union,” concludes Worku Belayneh. “Now I can focus on doing my job and raising my three children.”
Today drivers are looking forward to a better future and plan to maintain their unity to make sure they continue to have a voice at the airport.
Airport Taxi drivers filled the room at yesterday’s Port of Seattle Commission Meeting to thank Port Commissioners for their support.
"Our diverse communities are united - Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs alike."
Twenty-nine of the drivers are two days away from termination by Airport contractor Eastside for Hire. “The SeaTac 29” were targeted for termination last month hours after testifying before the Port Commission about a controversial “Pay-to-Work” scheme requiring drivers agree to pay thousands of dollars in fees just to keep their jobs.
The Port of Seattle has formally notified their contractor that the terminations are not permitted, but Eastside has yet to rescind the termination notices.
Bachitter Singh, a driver of more than six years, said: "Thank you for standing with us. We are united as one, and we are looking for your further support in preventing unjust terminations of the SeaTac 29."
Despite pressure from the company, drivers are sticking together and continue to make their voices heard. "In this holy month of Ramadan, our diverse communities are united - Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs alike. We celebrate together, and we stand together for justice for all," Zenabu Bayaso told Commissioners.