(TUKWILA, Wash.) — A group of 80 drivers, hostlers, and dock workers at USF Reddaway are celebrating after ratifying their first-ever Union contract with Teamsters Local 174. The group was completely nonunion just a few short weeks ago. They were recognized as Teamster members on October 30, 2019, and then voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract November 10, 2019. They now join their sisters and brothers in Kent, Burlington, and Pasco in Washington State as unionized Reddaway members.
The process of organizing these new workers began in September, when USF Reddaway Teamsters throughout the Western United States voted to ratify a contract which included language granting “card-check neutrality” to any groups wanting to organize with the Teamsters. “Card-check neutrality” means that as long as more than 50% of the workers sign cards saying they want to join a Union, the Company will recognize the Union without wading through a drawn-out legal process and secret ballot NLRB election.
Once the new regional USF Reddaway contract went into effect, nonunion workers at the Tacoma location reached out to Teamsters Local 174 to say there was strong support for unionization in the work group, and the Teamsters should get involved. Local 174 Director of Organizing Meaza Ogbe met with the group, and found they were correct: the workers were primed to become Teamsters. She began collecting cards signed by workers wanting to join Teamsters Local 174, and within a month, more than half of the workers had signed union cards. Reddaway then agreed to recognize Teamsters Local 174 as the new collective bargaining representative for their employees in Tacoma.
Because Reddaway Teamsters are all covered by one regional Agreement, the group was also able to avoid the delay of negotiating a first contract. Instead, workers reported to the Teamsters Local 174 Union Hall on Sunday afternoon to vote on the same contract that currently covers 1,300 Reddaway Teamsters across the Western United States. The contract was ratified overwhelmingly.
“It’s amazing to think that just a few weeks ago, we were nonunion and management could push us around and treat us however they wanted, but now we are covered by a Teamster contract,” said Jim Dahl, a driver and a strong supporter of the organizing campaign. “This is a major transformation for us, and it’s going to make our lives at work so much better! We are proud to be Teamsters.”
In addition to our members joining the Union and ratifying their Agreement, Reddaway workers at Teamsters Local 839 in Pasco, WA and Local 63 in San Fernando, CA also ratified their Agreements and are now covered by a Teamster contract.
The new contract the groups just ratified will bring higher wages, as well as access to Teamster healthcare including Retirees Health & Welfare for the first time. It also includes mature language governing non-economic issues like ‘just cause’ discipline, bargaining unit work protections surrounding sub-contracting, seniority, and transfer rights.
“This victory may seem like a whirlwind, but I first got to know this group years ago, with the late Teamster Business Agent Brian Davis,” said Ogbe, the Teamster organizer. “It fills me with pride to see them finally become members of Teamsters Local 174, and I know Brian would be proud as well.”
“This marks a victory in every sense of the word, as all aspects of these workers’ jobs are about to improve,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “But beyond that, this victory also shows the importance of current Teamster members standing strong and negotiating card-check neutrality language into their contracts. Reddaway Teamsters should be proud that their fight to win a strong contract with that kind of language in it, is now helping to grow the Teamsters Union within Reddaway. This is a victory for all involved.”
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,400 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.