TUKWILA, Wash., Aug. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Almost a year to the day after the National Labor Relations Board certified Teamsters Local 174 as the representative of a group of 50 O.M.A drivers and mechanics, the group voted by a margin of 95 percent last night to ratify their first contract, finally making them full-fledged members of Teamsters Local 174.
The journey to a contract – which started when the group was organized by Local 174 Organizer Meaza Ogbe over a year ago – has been difficult and full of obstacles, including a one-day Unfair Labor Practice strike on Oct. 20, 2016, and a second unanimous strike authorization vote on July 16, 2017. However, today the group can relax and rejoice in the knowledge that their work is finally protected by a contract – and not just any contract, but a strong one that gives them a good foothold for increasing their position in the construction industry in the future.
"The guys are excited. Everyone is smiling," said O.M.A employee and Bargaining Committee member Ken Knipp. "We are thankful to Meaza for seeing this process through to such a positive outcome. The guys really feel like they have a future now."
"This two-year agreement is a great starting point, and we are glad to see this process reach a resolution that benefits everyone," said Teamsters Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. "Negotiating a first contract for a newly-organized group can be a challenge, but now that it is done, we look forward to building a strong future for these workers."
The agreement gives the workers strong wage increases, as well as excellent hourly pension contributions and Teamster health and welfare benefits. It also contains language which will protect them and give them access to a full grievance procedure – which they did not have prior to being Union members.
"This new contract sets a high standard within the traditionally non-union DBE and WMBE section of the construction industry, and we are proud of that," said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. "Local 174 is once again leading the way into a new realm of possibility – the possibility of raising the standards in this part of the construction industry that has consistently paid its workers less than the competition. We encourage all of our signatory employers to use O.M.A for their WMBE requirement."
The employees at O.M.A are happy to finally have a Teamster contract protecting them. "This has been a battle," said Ken Knipp. "It's been a hard fight, but we are looking forward to putting the past behind us. And of course, we are excited to finally be full members of Teamsters Local 174. We also want to thank the owner of O.M.A, Barry O'Young, for finally recognizing the value of the work we perform."