Raising Spirits

Local 174 is on a winning streak, scoring organizing victories and negotiating solid contracts at warehouse and sanitation companies in Washington state. The local organized more than 150 workers at Southern Wine and Spirits back in August and had two more victories at CleanScapes/StreetScapes and Waste Management in Seattle.   

At Southern Wine and Spirits, Local 174 negotiated a card-check neutrality agreement with the help of International Vice President and President of Joint Council 7, Rome Aloise. A third-party arbitrator certified that a majority of warehouse workers signed cards, making Local 174 the official bargaining agent of the workers.

“This was an important organizing victory for us and it shows why we have been pursuing this model,” said Rick Hicks, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 174. “Everyone wins when management steps back and lets the workers decide for themselves. Now these workers will have the strength of Teamster representation that Southern Wine and Spirits employees in other states enjoy.”

Hicks credited Aloise and his skilled negotiating for winning the neutrality agreement at the company’s warehouse facility in Tacoma, Wash.

“I am excited to be a Teamster. It feels great knowing that we have the strength and power of the Teamsters Union looking out for us. And the fact that we were able to do it without going through an election fight makes me even prouder as a Teamster,” said Jean Casseus, a Southern Wine and Spirits worker who was active in the card-signing effort.

The Teamsters represent more than 2,000 warehouse workers at Southern Wine and Spirits of America, the nation’s largest liquor distributor.

Other Victories

Another victory for Local 174 came last summer when a newly organized group of janitorial workers ratified their first contract with CleanScapes/StreetScapes, a company that provides solid waste collection and other cleaning services in Seattle. The 17 workers joined roughly 150 other CleanScapes/StreetScapes collection workers who have been members of the local since 2009 and won a strong contract last year.

“The workers were emotional when they ratified the agreement,” said Ken Marshall, Local 174 Vice President. “They couldn’t believe that they no longer have to choose which of their children to cover with health insurance—now they have the opportunity for all of their family members to enjoy coverage.”

The new contract for CleanScapes/StreetScapes workers includes significant health and welfare improvements, wage increases and other added benefits over the three years of the contract.

Local 174 also organized 11 Waste Management dispatchers and is in the process of scheduling negotiations for a first agreement. Despite the company’s anti-union campaign which included mandatory meetings and film screenings, the workers voted 9-2 in favor of Teamster representation.

“We knew what to expect from the company and our organizers were one step ahead of them at all times,” Marshall said. “We welcome Waste Management dispatchers of Seattle and look forward to representing them at the bargaining table.”

“The workers…couldn’t believe that they no longer have to choose which of their children to cover with health insurance.” –Ken Marshall, Local 174 Vice President.