Workplace safety for Teamsters at state corrections facilities topped Teamster Local 117’ s legislative agenda in Olympia. Hundreds of Teamster corrections officers participated in a huge lobby day of action in December, sharing personal stories about the highly dangerous working conditions in the state’s prisons. Just weeks later, Officer Biendel was killed while working at the Monroe facility.
Teamsters won two out of three of their safety bills:
VOTE 5: Safety Interest Arbitration blocked in Senate: Interest Arbitration bill for correctional employees (EHB 2011, sponsored by Rep. Mike Sells (D–Everett) and Rep. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) passed out of the House on a vote of 59-36 but stalled in the Senate after the Governor said she would veto the bill if it passed . The bill would give DOC employees the ability to engage a neutral third party if they cannot come to agreement with the State over working conditions that adequately ensure staff safety.
VOTE 6: 2. Civil judgments for assaults on the job: Corrections employees hurt on the job by an inmate may now sue that inmate for civil damages under HB 1334, introduced by Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Walla Walla) and Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw).
VOTE 7: Off-duty protections passed. Correctional employees will have the right to concealed guns while off-duty under Rep. Tami Green’s (D-Lakewood) bill, HB 1041.
As long as they have had government-sponsored firearms training, corrections officers and community-corrections officers won’t have to obtain concealed-weapons permits. Other law enforcement, like police, already are exempt from those restrictions and license requirements.