As an Engineer with the Solid Waste Division in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) at King County, Sam Guthrie helps ensure that our landfills are in compliance with regulations. And, as a new PROTEC17 Steward, she helps ensure that her fellow co-workers voices are heard.
Five years ago, Guthrie began her career with King County as a short-term temporary engineer, quickly transitioning to a full-time position. Now working at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill as an Engineer II, she analyzes data and evaluates the system for constant improvements. She enjoys the fast-paced environment, the mixture of office and field work, and the daily problem-solving challenges that her job brings.
Before working at the County, Guthrie had never been in a union, but when she started in her career at King County, she wanted to learn more about PROTEC17.
“I wanted to understand more about what it means to be in a union, what support they can provide me as an employee, and why people advocate for unions,” said Guthrie of her original reason to get more involved.
She quickly learned that being in a union is important – especially for young members and new hires – because “when we stand together, we can better advocate for the needs and wants of all members, our voices are better heard, and we are more impactful in making change.”
About a year or so ago, Guthrie started getting more involved with PROTEC17, and began training to become a Union Steward. It was her own Steward, Kris McArthur, who recognized the leader in Guthrie, and who encouraged her to take on this important role.
“Kris helped me understand what the union is and how I could become more involved,” said Guthrie.
She first met McArthur when her office moved to the King Street Center and he worked across the cubicle hallway. But even when their offices changed locations, McArthur made every effort to keep her and her co-workers informed of union news and events, and was the first to step up when members had any issues.
“Seeing the strong leadership skills in Kris, and his passion for union rights and union work, helped solidify our partnership,” she continued.
Since then, McArthur and Guthrie have forged a strong mentor/mentee relationship. She has completed several steward trainings, served on the contract negotiations team, and has shadowed McArthur in meetings with management to learn from his wealth of experience.
So far, what Guthrie likes best about being a Steward is that she has the ability to listen to her co-workers concerns, and provide an avenue to help bring those issues forward in a confidential and secure way. She also likes ensuring that members know and understand their rights, and that interactions between her co-workers and management are fair and equitable.
“It feels good to be a confidant for fellow employees who can safely bring their concerns forward and be addressed in a timely, supportive manner,” she said. “I look forward to serving as a Union Steward for many years to come.”
Outside of work and PROTEC17, Guthrie is very active in volunteer work for diabetes awareness and support. As a person living with Type 1 Diabetes herself, she serves as the Director of a summer camp for children with the disease, where she organizes and plans three-week long sessions, so that kids can enjoy a camp experience with the support and inspiration of their peers. Guthrie also speaks on panels, sharing her own experience with diabetes, and inspiring others to tackle and overcome everyday challenges.
Guthrie is also an enthusiastic scuba diver in the Pacific Northwest and likes exploring local beaches and aquatic life. “Being underwater is like being in entirely different world and provides me an escape from everyday life,” she said. “There are many steps I have to take to be able to dive, but I enjoy sharing my experiences with others and inspiring children to not let diabetes define what they are capable of doing.”