When we fight, we win!

Woodland Park Zoo Schooled by Their Education Department Employees


The winning team at Woodland Park Zoo. 83% of the Education Department voted to become members of Teamsters117.

As children and adults at the zoo flock to educators holding animals and explaining their behavior, did you know about their struggle? The education department at Woodland Park Zoo has been fighting for better wages and respect for a long time with little success. 

“Many of us are not compensated enough as educators for the type of work that we do. We feel like we don’t have a voice. We’ve tried to address it year after year but were ignored,” shares Celwyn Green, an ambassador animal coordinator who has worked at the zoo for 30 years.

"We knew that we deserved better for this predominantly woman unit, so we fought hard and achieved it – equality"

She is one of the majority women team of developers, coordinators and specialists from the education department who finally said enough and began a union organizing campaign. They collected over thirty signatures and petitioned for union representation with Teamsters Local 117 filing with the National Labor Relations Board.

On August 4th, Celwyn and her colleagues marched on the boss to deliver a letter requesting voluntary union recognition signed by 100% of their department. It was an action that Celwyn described as “empowering” after years of inequitable treatment.

What they got in response from the management was an anti-union campaign. Yet that didn’t slow down the group fighting for their rights. They had their backs supported by Teamsters 117 staff and by over 60 members already represented by the Teamsters 117 at Woodland Park Zoo.

It all culminated in the final vote on Wednesday. The result was an incredible 83% in favor of the union. Maria Francisca Torres, a Teamsters 117 organizer and a leader in this fight, sums it up: “We stood strong. We knew that we deserved better for this predominantly woman unit, so we fought hard and achieved it – equality.”

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