(May 19, 2016) — Teamsters Local 117 has been on an organizing tear recently. Over the past two years, the local has brought over 900 members into the union. Bus drivers, parking attendants, clerical staff, warehouse workers, municipal professionals, dentists, construction-industry workers and many others — they are all new members of Teamsters 117.
The local has organized in the traditional way — through National Labor Relations Board and Public Employee Relations Commission wins in the public and private sectors. They’ve also employed innovative strategies to give a voice to taxi and other for-hire drivers who are classified as independent contractors.
Under Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy’s leadership, the union has received national attention, as they helped author a groundbreaking Seattle law giving thousands of Puget Sound Uber and Lyft drivers the right to collectively bargain.
“The work Local 117 has led organizing Uber, Lyft and other drivers is world-class, cutting edge,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the M.L. King County Labor Council. “It proves that everything is on the table and our movement is not going to leave a single worker behind when it comes to the fight for dignity and respect in the workplace.”
Scearcy credits the local’s success to its hardworking staff and a deliberate focus on organizing to complement its already established reputation for strong representation.
“In the last two years, we’ve added four new organizers to join our excellent representational staff,” Scearcy said. “Our staff works incredibly hard and is dedicated to building a better future for our members and their families.”
Grant says solid leadership has made the difference as well.
“Leadership is the reason Teamsters Local 117 is so successful. The head of their union, John Scearcy, has street credibility, dedication, and a kind heart — an unstoppable mixture in union leadership.”
The results speak for themselves. Local 117 has seen steady growth since 2014, bucking a national trend of decline in unionized workers.
In addition to the organizing wins, some key victories in Olympia have made this a good year for one of the largest Teamsters locals in the country. They successfully passed a bill extending assault benefits for their corrections’ members and secured interest arbitration rights for upcoming DOC contract negotiations.
“As a member of Local 117, we know we are part of a strong union,” said Sergeant Ed Duncan, a Shop Steward who works at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center near Olympia. “We support each other, even if we come from different industries, and we always have each other’s backs.”