In solidarity with workers around the country and throughout the Pacific Northwest, PROTEC17 members are starting off 2022 with a show of support for a wide range of unionization efforts and contract campaigns.
In Portland, members stood in solidarity with the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) in their struggle for a fair contract with the City of Portland. The DCTU, which bargains for about 1,200 City employees, includes members of AFSCME Local 189, IBEW Local 48, Machinists Local 1005, Operating Engineers Local 701, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290, and Painters District Council 5. After working toward a contract since summer 2020, the two sides remained far apart in mid-December 2021, and DCTU declared an impasse.
To show support for DCTU members, community groups held rallies throughout January. The Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and Portland Jobs With Justice sponsored the Jan. 8 event outside of Portland City Hall. The rally drew about 200 attendees, including many members and staff from PROTEC17, who expressed their support for DCTU members. A second rally and informational picket was held at the City’s Maintenance Operations facility on January 18, and shortly thereafter DCTU members voted to go on strike on Feb. 10, should a deal not be reached. Late on Feb. 9, the DCTU announced an agreement with the City.
In Seattle, PROTEC17 President Rachael Brooks and Executive Director Karen Estevenin offered support on behalf of our union to Teamsters 174 concrete workers who have been on strike since December 1 to secure a fair contract. On the picket line, they delivered holiday gifts and a donation to let these workers know that PROTEC17 supports them. Over 300 Teamsters at six different companies have been picketing 24 hours a day, seven days per week at 12 different locations since the strike began.
The strike has brought many construction projects in busy downtown Seattle to a halt, demonstrating the essential value of the Teamsters’ work. While they remain strong, the strike is taking an economic toll on the group, especially as it extended over the holidays at the end of last year, and now as it enters its third month. PROTEC17 has contributed to their strike fund. If you’d like to make an individual donation, you can find more information on their website at teamsters174.net/teamsters-local-174-construction-concrete-cement-strike-information.
PROTEC17 members also stood alongside Starbucks’ employees looking to form a union at stores located in the same city as company headquarters. The Seattle effort comes on the heals of the first Starbucks cafe to unionize in upstate New York, which prompted a wave of efforts throughout the country to demand better pay and benefits from the world’s largest corporate coffee chain. Since the first employees to organize in Buffalo, NY in late 2021, more than 70 Starbucks stores have filed for union recognition. Starbucks Workers United (SWU), an arm of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is their union.
PROTEC17 member-leaders Gretchen Waschke (City of Seattle) and Lucas Smith (King County) spoke at the SWU rally in Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park on Jan. 25 to show PROTEC17’s support.
“We are proud of the Starbucks workers at stores in Seattle, WA and Eugene, OR who have petitioned for union recognition, and want to let you know that PROTEC17 members in your communities support your efforts to win union recognition and a good contract,” said Waschke.
Executive Director Estevenin wrote a statement calling on Starbucks’ Executives and Seattle City Council to support the right of baristas to form their union, concluding: “We stand in solidarity with Starbucks Workers United, and with all workers organizing for dignity, respect, and rights!