Throughout a grueling six-month long fight to unionize their workplace, Animal Care Associates at Seattle Humane demonstrated powerful solidarity.

Yesterday, Animal Care Associates (ACAs) at the Seattle Humane in Bellevue voted unanimously in an election before the National Labor Relations Board to join Teamsters 117. This win came after a long and arduous six-month fight to unionize for these workers who provide care and comfort for the shelter animals.

“We are excited to welcome this group of kind and motivated young workers into the union and help them advocate for their rights, which in turn will equip them to better advocate for animals in their care,” said John Scearcy, Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer. “We are looking forward to negotiate a strong contract that includes this group’s priorities.”

"I am excited and relieved. I took this job to be a voice for the voiceless. Now, we are looking forward to doing our work in a more meaningful and impactful way."

For many of these workers, the love and joy of working with the animals outweighed seeking other job opportunities. The concern for animals in their care including cats, dogs, rabbits, and other little critters, galvanized this compassionate group to demand a union at work. Seattle Humane management rarely visits the areas where animals are kept, but they make decisions that hurt both the workers and the animals alike, such as inadequate staff to animal ratios. All animals suffer when they are not adequately socialized and cared for each day.  

“It breaks my heart knowing that if we had an extra person to help give a little bit of love, it could prevent euthanasia,” shared Kaycee Marquis, who started working at Seattle Humane three years ago. “But things are changing now, and it makes me think of how much more we can do!”

Seattle Humane management was hostile to workers organizing to join Teamsters 117. ACAs had to endure a range of union-busting tactics from management, including fighting the workers right to organize by requiring the workers to sit through captive audience meetings, which pulled them away from tending to pets in their care. In the end, the workers persevered and with this victorious vote, they are looking forward to the future.

“I am excited and relieved,” said Drew McKeen, who has cared for animals at Seattle Humane for over four years. “I took this job to be a voice for the voiceless. Now, we are looking forward to doing our work in a more meaningful and impactful way.”