Oour Regional Executive Committee (REC) – the policy-making body of PROTEC17 – gathered at the Teamsters Hall in Tukwila, Wash. on April 13 to make big decisions about the future of our union, including approving the 2019 budget and selecting our new Executive Director.

PROTEC17 President Hossein Barahimi, a Transportation Planner at King County Metro, opened the meeting by swearing in new Executive Board officers Cindy Watanabe-Mezs (Secretary-Treasurer) and Sarah Spotts (Trustee), as well as REC delegates from across the region. In his subsequent speech he talked about how our union and its members triumphed over many challenges in 2018, including several leadership changes and the Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, which altered the landscape for public sector unions. He also thanked the REC, staff, and various committee members for the additional work they put in over the last year to ensure our union not only survived these challenges, but came out stronger.

Acting Executive Director Anthony Davidson echoed Barahimi’s sentiments and took a moment to thank the staff for their committment to this organization, and to the members for their patience during times of immense change. Staff and members then reported on various contract settlements, and provided legislative reports for both Washington and Oregon.

The proposed budget for 2019 was also carefully reviewed by the delegation and approved, as was the collective bargaining agreement for the staff contract, which the REC reviews during each term.

In a closed door meeting with only REC delegates (no staff), the membership was presented with the next big item on the agenda – to decide on our next Executive Director. Two members of the hiring committee, Cindy Watanabe-Mezs (King County) and Paul Cone (Portland), recapped the months-long process for selecting an Executive Director. Armed with the job criteria, candidate recommendations, and an employment agreement to review, the REC delegates voted unanimously to select Karen Estevenin for the role because they felt she demonstrated the skills and experience that PROTEC17 was looking for in a leader.

“We’re thrilled that Karen accepted the offer to lead PROTEC17,” said Paul Cone, hiring committee member. “During the recruitment process, we were amazed by her organizing experience, and we are excited to work with her as she leads us in building more member power.”

Estevenin, who previously worked for Teamsters 117, and was working in the Teamsters Hall that day, celebrated the good news with members at a ceremonial signing of her employment agreement at the end of the meeting.

Other important events that occured at this meeting included the presentation of a Gold Card to long-time member-leader Mark Rauchenstein from Clark County. In addition to his work as a commercial real estate appraiser for the County, Rachenstein has been a PROTEC17 Steward, Chapter President, REC Delegate, and Labor Council Delegate for many years. He is also a veteran who was recently honored for his service by Senator Maria Cantwell at the Clark County Central Labor Council.