There was no hesitation from any of the predominantly female Teamsters who care for animals at the Humane Society when a strike authorization vote was taken. Never in all her 18 years of being a Teamster has Sarah Anderson – Cat Foster Coordinator, shop steward, and member of the bargaining committee – seen a proposal from an employer that has been so extreme with takeaways.

“We take care of animals that are forgotten and neglected, and work everyday to ensure needy animals find new homes,” she shares. “The hard work and overwhelming commitment of my co-workers is inspiring.”

“That’s why it’s so hard to understand why the new management team is working so hard to attack our pay and benefits after years of productive bargaining with Teamsters,” said Anderson. “It feels like we are fighting for basic human rights at this point,” she shares. “They are aggressively trying to break us down.”

"It feels like we are fighting for basic human rights at this point. They are aggressively trying to break us down."

“This is an organization built around care and compassion,” said Jessica Emel, bargaining committee member and 23 year employee. “The Management team’s contract proposals don’t reflect those values.”

The Humane Society of Tacoma & Pierce County has recently undergone changes in its executive leadership, and there has been a push for the Society to grow, modernize, and move forward. Critically, this cannot happen at the expense of its workers. Teamsters members have a historic commitment to operating the Society in a way that is humane to animals and staff alike.

Yet the bargaining committee is not prepared to accept the insulting proposals. They know that the level of care the pets get is directly related to how the staff is treated. “There are people here right now who can’t afford to work here and have second and third jobs,” Anderson concludes as she is determined to fight for her co-workers’ rights.

“Management continues to create new executive positions, while insisting on takeaways from us,” observed Emel. “We’re willing to work together to create a sustainable, forward looking Humane Society, but it feels unfair that we’re the ones being asked to make all the sacrifices.”.