After 14 months of hard work by the PROTEC17 bargaining team and 10 months of active negotiations, we have a new contract with the City of Tacoma.

One of the biggest highlights of this agreement are market adjustments for 53 different job classifications, ranging from four to 20 percent, with half of the increase paid retroactively to January 1, 2023, and the second half added to base wages on January 1, 2024. These increases are in addition to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Other wins in this contract include: better language allowing employees to adjust their shifts; one-hour minimum overtime language for taking phone calls or texts on stand-by; improved language for application of rate pay for Inspectors; and confined space pay for the Painter Crew Lead.

The process started last February 2022 when we received nominations for eight members to represent their colleagues on the bargaining team. The team is: Devin Andrews, Jay Hemley, Ken Ho, DeJa Irving, Tiffany Ryan, Mike Sowards, Troy Stevens, and Renee Thompson.

The team’s first order of business was to put together a survey to send to members to gather and prioritize contract issues. After the data from the survey was compiled, the team worked to compose proposals that reflected members’ priorities. They then held meetings to share the results of the survey and to discuss the plan for negotiations.

Bargaining began in July 2022, and started with contract language changes. When it came time to discuss economics, it became clear that the City was interested in a relatively low COLA with a focus on targeted market adjustments for many of our classifications. The team took into consideration that seven contracts with other unions had already settled with COLAs of 2.5% in 2023, 2.75% in 2024 and 2.75% in 2025, and decided to pivot their focus on getting the fairest market adjustment for as many classifications as possible. They brought in more members to compliment their efforts and to tell their stories. These members advocated for market adjustments and were extremely effective. It is fair to say that the increases the team was able to bargain would not have occurred without the efforts of Vince Harteau (Road Use Compliance), John Durrance (Road Use Compliance), Brett Burrows (Source Control), Randy Ketner (Carpenter Lead), Scott Long (WWTP) and Anna Hudson (Permits).

As the months went by and the City refused to budge on some of their positions, the team organized a campaign that encouraged all 250 PROTEC17 members to put up ‘Fair Wages Tacoma’ signs in their work areas and to use PROTEC17 backgrounds in all their Zoom and Teams meetings. This outpouring of solidarity went a long way in moving the needle with the City.

The team finally reached a tentative agreement on the contract in early May and it was overwhelmingly ratified by members two weeks later. The contract is historic in the amount of market adjustments negotiated and is a testament to the hard work and dedication from the bargaining team.