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Teamsters 117

In RCW 41.80, the state legislature granted private organizations the ability to secure a monopoly franchise over workplace representation services for state-funded employees. Teamsters Local 117 has secured the privilege of providing workplace services to thousands of various public employees.

Many believe the union arrangement is not a good fit.

They may be professionals or officers who have the sophistication to manage their own affairs. Others find themselves lumped in with other employees whose interests cannot possibly be uniformly represented by one monolithic organization like Teamsters 117.

Others find the aggressive politicking and use of dues to advance partisan causes, candidates and ideology distasteful. Still others believe that union officials take advantage of the power to force people to pay by overcharging and underperforming.

If you object to Teamsters 117 overcharging you for workplace representation, and you would rather reclaim these funds, then you may request to pay the reduced representation fee by filling opt the form below.

  • e.g. State of Washington, King County, City of Tacoma, etc.
  • We will not contact you unless you choose to receive updates from us

The union will still represent you in collective bargaining, contract management and grievance processing, but you will no longer have to fund items unrelated to workplace representation like politics, marketing, litigation, ideological causes or other extraneous activities.

Unfortunately, unions are not governed by the usual consumer protection or anti-trust laws, so abuses of the privilege of collecting money are possible.

They can charge whatever they wish. They can spend money on whatever they wish. They do not have to disclose how the money is spent to those who pay it. They can speak for employees without consulting or informing them. They can injure some members’ interests while advancing the interests of others. They can prevent employees from getting help in their workplace from other sources. They are not governed by any obligation to provide quality service, and they almost never have to seek reauthorization of their right to have this monopoly on workplace services.

The courts have acknowledged that these extraordinary powers can lead to abuses. Specifically, the court recognized that unions have power to wrongfully overcharge for services, and the power to compel people to fund a speech they don’t support in violation of the First Amendment.

Public employees have challenged some of the unions’ abuse of power, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that employees have certain rights. Now you can keep the hundreds of dollars in overcharges and make your own decisions about politics and causes.

If you object to Teamsters 117 overcharging you for workplace representation, you may choose to opt out of those charges.

U.S. Supreme Court decisions have long recognized that unions are not allowed to charge public employees for political, ideological or other nonessential union expenses as a condition of employment (Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 U.S. 507 (1991)).

To accommodate this right, any public employee may become an “agency fee payer” and remain a nonunion member of the bargaining unit paying only the workplace representation fee, which is less than full union membership dues.

The Supreme Court has also required unions to explain to fee payers the purposes for any portion of fees it collects from them (Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292, (1986)).

“The Union will establish a procedure that any employee who makes a request may pay a representation fee equal to a pro rata share of collective bargaining expenses, rather than the full membership fee.” (Teamsters Local Union 117 Collective Bargaining Agreement, Pg. 2)

The most recent calculation of how much of the unions’ dues the union claims is used for legitimate workplace representation and how much it admits is used for extraneous purposes is reported to all fee payers each year in the “Representation Fee Notice.”

On page two, the union calculates that thirty-two percent of $138 million union dues sent to International Brotherhood of Teamsters is extraneous (“nonchargeable”) and thus will be returned. Teamsters joint council 28 reports that twenty-seven percent of its $885,000 budget is extraneous, and Teamsters Local 117 reports that nearly seven percent of its $7.9 million budget is extraneous.

Teamsters 117 monthly dues are two and one-quarter (2.25) times the hourly earnings rate. (Constitution Article X Section 3 (d) (ii) Pg. 78) Essentially 2.25 of your hourly rate is approximately 1.3 percent of your monthly pay.

Of those dues received by the union, 22 percent goes to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, $1.60 per month goes to Joint Council 28 (JC28), and the rest is retained by Teamsters Local 117.

For example, if you make $50,000 a year you are paying about $650 in yearly dues. $143 is going to IBT, $19.20 to JC28 and the remaining $487.80 goes to Local 117.

 

Dues % not charged Reduction Amount
IBTeamsters $143 33% $46.95
Joint Council 28 $19.20 27% $5.18
Local 117 $487.80 7% $32.83
Total $650 $84.96

Source: Teamsters 117 “Hudson Report” 2017

This represents a 13 percent reduction in dues.

 

FAQs

How do I keep my money from going to Teamsters’ extraneous activities like politics and ideological causes?

Inform the Teamsters Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer in writing that you wish to resign from all levels of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including Local 117.

State you object to your fees being used for nonchargeable activities, and that you wish to pay the reduced representation fee.

Send a copy of your letter to your local Teamsters affiliate at 14675 Interurban Ave S #307, Tukwila, WA 98168.

If I stop paying the full amount of dues to the union, will I still receive the same wages and benefits specified in Teamsters contract with the state?

Yes. Teamsters 117 has arranged to be the “exclusive representative” of its bargaining units, meaning that one contract will cover all employees. As one who pays a fee to the union for their work on the contract and for other workplace services, you will receive the wages and benefits as directed in the contract.

Does it affect my pension?

No. Under state law, a union contract is binding on all employees in a bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are technically union “members.” Your compensation, benefits and conditions of employment are all set by the contract and the state legislature and will remain unchanged whether you pay full union dues or only the representation fee.

Will the union stop helping me with workplace issues if I pay only the workplace representation fee?

Yes. The union has a franchise to be the exclusive representative of the members of the bargaining unit. It can and will prevent members of the bargaining unit from securing their own assistance with workplace issues. In return for the monopoly on this particular service, unions have a corresponding legal duty to provide fair representation. The union is required to provide workplace representation, contract enforcement, discipline assistance and grievance assistance for those paying fees.

How will my relationship with the union change if I resign my membership in Teamsters and stop paying the full amount of dues?

While the terms of the contract will still apply as a nonmember of Teamsters, the union may choose to deny participation in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings or voting for union officers. Unions commonly withhold any special “members only” deals or discounts the union has arranged with businesses. The union newsletter or similar publications are sometimes withheld. Some unions also have policies preventing those paying for workplace representation from participating in contract ratification votes. While this is wrong, it is their prerogative since they have no obligation under law to have votes in the first place, and no legal obligation to act on the results of those votes. As a result, the ability to discriminate in voting is allowed.

How does Teamsters spend my dues money?

According to reports the union must file with the U.S. Department of Labor, Teamsters 117, collected nearly $10,915,303 in dues and fees from its members in fiscal year 2016.

  • $2,7 million (about 22 percent) went to International Brotherhood of Teamsters headquarters in Washington, D.C., to support its massive political, economic and social agenda.
  • $271,398 was spent locally on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying. Another $269,459 was spent on contributions, gifts and grants.
  • Teamsters 117 President Lenda Woodrow received total compensation of $138,837 in 2016, up from $129,930 in 2015.
  • Thirty-five employees are paid more than $80,000, twenty-four employees more than $100,000 and the highest paid receives $152,236

Teamster’s 117 2016 Hudson Packet is available here.
Teamster’s 117 2017 Hudson Packet is available here.

Teamster’s 117 2013 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s 117 2014 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s 117 2015 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s 117 2016 LM-2 report is available here.

Teamster’s 117 2013 IRS 990 tax return is available here.
Teamster’s 117 2014 IRS 990 tax return is available here.
Teamster’s 117 2015 IRS 990 tax return is available here.

Some examples of Teamsters’ 117’s election and political contributions is available here.

The Teamsters Joint Council 28 also receives funding from Teamsters.

Some examples of the Joint Council’s election spending is available here.

The international union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) collected $170 million in dues

  • IBT’s President, James Hoffa, was paid $386,344 in 2016.
  • Roughly $6.4 million was spent on hotels, travel and food and catering.
  • About a million was spent at Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • $44,000 was spent on t-shirts

Teamster’s National 2012 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s National 2013 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s National 2014 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s National 2015 LM-2 report is available here.
Teamster’s National 2016 LM-2 report is available here.

Teamster’s National 2013 IRS 990 tax return is available here.
Teamster’s National 2014 IRS 990 tax return is available here.
Teamster’s National 2015 IRS 990 tax return is available here.