Tonya Dukes is a shop steward, bargaining team member, and grandmother of 11.
Tonya Dukes and her fellow Teamsters at WeDriveU fought for every last penny. Right up until their contract ratification vote, the group kept battling.
Dukes is a career bus driver, shop steward, and Union bargaining team member. She spends long hours, shuttling Google employees to and from their posh corporate campus in Redmond.
Her workday starts early, with a 5:15 a.m. pre-trip safety inspection. "I check the oil, the brakes, make sure everything is proper so I can pick up my clients on time," she explains. "It's a lot. But I love my job."
Like many of her co-workers, Dukes grinds out a split shift, meaning she doesn't get off until 7 p.m. Between shifts, she often sleeps on her bus. "It runs you down, and I'm not young," quips the grandmother of eleven.
But despite her grueling work schedule, Dukes' commitment to her co-workers never wavers. She braved nine months of negotiations, making sure the company recognized the drivers' labor. Even after bargaining wrapped up, her Union team, led by Local 117 General Counsel Fallon Schumsky, kept haggling.
In the end, the committee's perseverance paid off. The Union achieved a 7.4% wage increase in year one of the contract, followed by 4% in years two and three. They also significantly boosted the company's retirement contributions for our members.
"We're the backbone of this operation," Dukes states proudly. "We're doing the running, we're doing the pickups, we're fighting traffic. At least pay us what we're worth."
Even with the proposed wage hike, it was uncertain how the contract vote would go down. "Most were happy," Dukes says. "But some people wanted more."
A true Unionist at heart, Dukes respected her co-workers' concerns. "Before the vote, I surveyed the yard," she tells. "They wanted to know what I was going to do. I said, 'We're all a team. Either we're going all in or we're going all out.'"
Following Dukes' lead, members came together and voted unanimously to approve the new contract.
"These workers are vital to ensuring that our area's high tech sector and our economy as a whole remain healthy and strong," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "This new contract is an important step toward WeDriveU Teamsters getting the respect they deserve."
For the hardworking bus driver, an exhausting chapter is over. With the contract fight finally settled, Dukes can now spend more time on her hobbies - crafting, making baskets and candles - and looking after her beautiful grandkids.
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