Patty’s Corner, July 15, 2013

By: Patty Warren, Senior Business Agent


After more than seven years of organizing, the Seattle School bus drivers working for First Student voted to go Union in June.

The IBT had been working the campaign up until two years ago. At that point, the Local took over the group. Working with the organizing committee made the difference. This was a member-driven campaign, with the committee making the decisions on how to go about getting the cards necessary to file for an election.

We went to an election last September but narrowly lost. We filed Objections to the Election and an Unfair Labor Practice Charge. A combined Objections and ULP hearing was held in January. The Judge ruled in our favor, and the Employer appealed to the Board. The Board upheld the Judge’s decision. At that Point, First decided not to take the case into the Court system and we agreed to another election in early June, right before the end of the school year.

Thanks to the hard work put in by Abe Taylor, who is now on staff full time as our Organizer, we turned that loss into a win. Thanks also to the organizing committee, who over a long and at times vicious seven-year battle, never gave up their fight for recognition.

We had a well-attended demands meeting, elected a six-person bargaining committee (there are four different locations, two of them with over 100 drivers) and have set our first bargaining dates. The negotiations will be a challenge. We want to bargain over the summer with the hopes of getting a contract before the start of the school year in September. Unfortunately, the Employer’s negotiator is saying she is booked up with only a few available dates. It’s unfortunate, because we want to minimize the possibility of any labor dispute which could interfere with our children’s ability to get to school. Maybe we can yet turn the light bulb on over First Student’s head and they will find a way to free up some more dates.


Last year, we agreed to extend our Allied contract by two years. It was due to expire in 2014. We agreed to extend that contract to line up with CleanScapes, which was already set to expire in 2016. A lot of municipality contracts will be up for bid over that couple of year period, and Allied was interested in labor peace. We wanted to make sure they met the CleanScapes economics and we achieved that goal.

Waste Management then contacted us about an extension. They were due to expire in 2015. We offered them a one-year extension, also on the condition they match the CleanScapes money. They were not interested in a one year extension, they came in and proposed a four year deal. Secretary-Treasuer and Joint Council 28 President Rick Hicks told them they would not only have to meet the CleanScapes economics, which was an increase in wages alone of over $1 an hour, but they had to convince us that we should let them lead the way.

I believe he mentioned something about an armored truck full of money (I had just asked for a wheelbarrow). We were able to reach an agreement, which was overwhelmingly ratified by our Waste Management membership. In addition to getting a great deal for the drivers, we were able to leverage a resolution on the economics for the dispatchers and clean up a couple of outstanding disputes with Waste about retention bonuses and severance pay (the data dispatching duties are being relocated to Portland along with half the jobs). It was the epitome of a win-win deal.

Waste has new management in our area. Dean Kattler was replaced by Jason Rose. Jason is a hands-on guy, and immediately set out to improve the relationship with the Union. Our first meeting was a love-fest. He said all the right things, he engaged the stewards in some productive discussions, and he promised a new day. Tim Crosby was not even there. We were told he is “exploring new business opportunities” for the Company in Spokane. We wish Tim all the luck in that arena.

Ken Marshall talked about the enormous pile of grievances he has had with Waste over the years and Jason promised that would change. We walked away hopeful, but talk is cheap. Since then it has proven not to be cheap talk. Jason has continued to be proactive in his relationship with us and the disciplinary actions and grievances have gone way down. Ken has worked our end to make sure we have open communication and productive discussions with Jason. So far, we are pleased with our improved relationship


We were certified to represent the truck drivers (not the redi-mix) in December of 2012, after an initial election, a loss, objections to an election, a second election, and, thanks to Abe Taylor and Michael Gonzales, along with an outstanding organizing committee, a victory at the second election. Sound familiar?

Corliss chose not to contest the second election, and we were certified as the representative in late December. We have been bargaining since January and getting nowhere at the table. The entire time, the Company has been engaging in unfair labor practices. They have threatened and retaliated against union supporters, have made numerous illegal statements about the consequences of going union, given preference in assignments to employees who are known anti-union advocates, and otherwise violated the law.

The NLRB issued a complaint against Corliss with over 20 individual illegal statements along with other violations of the law. We had a hearing set for July 16, but through legal maneuvers, the Company has managed to get a delay. Our supporters there have stood strong against a deluge of abuse, and will see that pay off. A victory with the ULP will include positive economic outcome for the union supporters. Hang in there, guys!

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