After a full slate of lobby visits, our day ended with a boisterous rally on the Capitol steps.

Teamster power was palpable in Olympia on Thursday. From the Temple of Justice to the Capitol steps, our Union voice was determined, persuasive, and loud. 

The occasion was our DOC Lobby Day. This year, the event brought 150 members and their families from across the State to speak with legislators on a range of issues impacting Teamster correctional workers.

Members pressed for staff wellness programs, disaster relief, and health subsidies for retirees, among other needs. 

For Malcom Waddy, an officer at the Cedar Creek Correctional Center, educating legislators motivated him to come to the Capitol. "A lot of people have no idea what it's actually like inside the fence," he explained. "It's important for us to give our representatives an idea about what's going on in the facilities they're responsible for."


Basic capital improvements are needed to make his facility safer, Waddy said.

For many, this was their first time in Olympia, including a cohort of brand new Teamsters from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Fresh out of CORE, Josefina Ortiz made the trip after just two months on the job. In her appointments, Ortiz urged legislators to pass HB 2311, a bill that would enhance wellness programs for first responders. "Having someone we can talk to during off hours and the ability to speak with a counselor one-on-one instead of having to express our feelings in a big group - I think those things are important," she said.

Together with Danica Strohman and Joseph Ferraro, Ortiz attended at the bidding of fellow WSP member Emanuel Alcaraz. "I came last year and we passed 14 of the 14 bills we lobbied on," Alcaraz said. "It's nice to know the Union has our back."

WSP in the house! Ortiz, Strohman, Ferraro, Alcaraz, and Joaquin Torrez all represented the southwest corner of the State.

In his group, Jesse Suarez, a registered nurse at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, urged Representative Michelle Caldier (26th LD) to back SB 5808, interest arbitration for 911 telecommunicators. "This levels the playing field in negotiations and allows a neutral third-party to resolve things if the employer and union can't agree," he said.

Suarez pointed out that he and his Teamster co-workers achieved interest arbitration statutorily in 2019 and that it's been a game-changer for improving pay and working conditions ever since.

Jesse Suarez rattles off a number of important bills in his group's meeting with Representative Caldier of the 26th legislative district.

The day ended jubilantly with cheers, chants, and speeches as the group gathered on the Capitol steps.

Paul Dascher, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117, praised members for turning out. "Our DOC members perform incredibly meaningful work in a high-stress environment," he said. "They serve the public and help prepare incarcerated folks for re-entry into our communities. We owe it to them to ensure safe conditions, security in retirement, and the very best mental health programming the state can offer. As Teamsters, we'll hold legislators accountable to make sure our members get what they need."

Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 & voice your support of the bills listed on our legislative priorities checklist. Please contact our legislative affairs team if you have questions.

Photos from Lobby Day here!

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