A new member-led group – called the PROTEC17 Workers’ Roundtable (or PWR! for short) – met on Jan. 28 to discuss what issues to prioritize for the coming year and how members can support each other across chapters and show solidarity for common causes. 

About 25 members joined the two-hour Zoom meeting led by members Kelsey Hopkins (King County), Sundar Sharma (City of Seattle), and Neil Loehlein (City of Portland). PROTEC17 members from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Department of Licensing, and Spokane Regional Health District also joined the call. 

The union-wide group started coming together in mid-2020 during the massive nation-wide calls for racial justice and an end to police brutality. Several Chapters had formed their own separate racial justice groups, but wanted to develop a more visible presence on the issue across PROTEC17. Today, with anti-racism and racial justice at the top of the group’s priorities, PWR! is pushing forward on a broad spectrum of economic, racial and social justice issues. 

To get the discussion going at the meeting, participants in smaller breakout rooms were asked: “why are you here?”, “how do we want to show up as a union?”, and “what are the important causes for your chapter?” Back in the larger session, the group collaboratively found trends and commonalities among the responses, and selected some of the top themes and objectives to start working on in 2021. 

One of the biggest themes involved creating more communication and connection between chapters, and demonstrating union-wide solidarity during contract negotiations. 

Another theme centered around building PROTEC17’s strength and visibility within our employers, the labor movement, and in the broader community by showing up in a more physical way on the ground. 

The PWR! meeting was recorded and is available on our YouTube page for members to get a sense of what the group’s all about.  

Hopkins, Sharma and Loehlein were pleased with the engagement and ideas generated by members in the meeting. PROTEC17 Union Representative Rachel Whiteside, who acts as a staff resource for the group, also gave kudos to the three leaders for their hard work and the preparation required to facilitate a successful meeting. 

“There was great energy in the group and you did an amazing job of planning, leading, and inspiring our members,” said Whiteside. 

PWR! plans to meet roughly quarterly, and is building a list of members across PROTEC17 who want to take action on the issues impacting our members both within and outside the workplace. If you’d like to participate, please reach out to your Union Rep to get connected to the group.