Nearly 100 members at the City of Tacoma showed up to support their contract negotiations team as they walked into their bargaining session on July 22 at the Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) building.
The idea for the action was born at a Tacoma Chapter meeting in early July, and members really took pride and ownership of the event to make it successful in a short period of time. Working with Union Representative Brent Wagar and Organizer Melissa Mafua, PROTEC17 members rallied their co-workers to attend. Members came from all across the City – including many from outside of the TPU building – to spend their lunch breaks at the rally. Members of other unions also came out to show their solidarity.
Negotiations for the contract, which expired in December 2018, have been ongoing since February. Members felt that the City has been dragging their heels and taking an anti-union and unfair stance at the negotiations table. Non-represented workers at the City recently received a three percent wage adjustment, but the City thus far had not offered anywhere near that for union members. Plus they were not offering retroactive pay, despite the fact that the delay in negotiations was their doing.
PROTEC17 members lined the hall outside of the conference room and held balloons and signs that read “Respect Now,” “Fair Wages Now,” and “Time to Move Tacoma.” There were ‘union violation’ tickets that members handed to management as they walked into the room. Members also chanted “Who’s here? PROTEC’s here!” and “What do we want? Fair contract! When do we want it? Now!” You can find more images and a video from the day on our Facebook and YouTube channels.
The negotiations team – Brett Burrows, Jim McDaniel, Drayton McLaren, John Reeves, Mike Sowards, and Renee Thompson – was thrilled with the action and the strong showing of support. Other PROTEC17 staff attended the event as well to show their support including: Executive Director Karen Estevenin, Laura Elia, Deidre Girard, Sarah Lorenzini, Paul Marvy, and Rachel Whilteside, who came up from her assignment in Portland to help with morning preparations.
Before the event, negotation’s team member Thompson said: “I want the City to see that our union is strong and that we expect to be treated respectfully and equitably.”
The rally did just that. Not only was this action an incredible showing of solidarity and strength, but it sent a clear message to City negotiators that PROTEC17 members demand respect and fairness at the negotiations table and in the next contract.
While negotiations are still ongoing, there has been some positive movement since the action. If you are a Tacoma member, check your email for regular updates about the status of negotiations. If you need to update your personal email with PROTEC17, visit our website or notify your Union Representative.