Teamsters Strike Seattle Trucking Company

September 23, 2008

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Teamsters at Oak Harbor Freight Lines in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho walked off the job Monday night in response to what they call "hostile efforts by company representatives to bully and intimidate workers."

Oak Harbor Freight Lines, one of the largest trucking companies on the West Coast, provides time sensitive delivery services to some of the largest companies and government agencies in the country including the Gap, Recreational Equipment Inc., Safeway, Siemens, Georgia Pacific, McKesson, Owens & Minor, JC Penney, Honda, GM & Chrysler Parts, Urban Outfitters, Whirlpool, and the State of Washington.

The company said it will continue to operate, using both internal and external replacement drivers. In a statement on its web site, Oak Harbor says, "the Teamsters Union called for a strike by our people before they presented our last and final offer to our people for a vote."

Union officials say the National Labor Relations Board is investigating several labor law violations committed by the company, including coercing and threatening employees, as well as making unlawful changes to working conditions.

According to published reports, the union and the company have been in contract negotiations for 18 months. A Teamsters official told the Portland Business Journal that company representatives have started harassing some workers, and about five complaints have been filed in recent weeks with the National Labor Relations Board.

A company official told the same paper that it has not intimidated workers. He said Oak Harbor made the decision to communicate with employees during contract talks, "which is not normal in our negotiations because of the possible fear that unfair labor practices would be filed."

Some of the sticking points in the negotiations, according to the union, have involved Oak Harbor's plan to require retirees to pay more for their health care coverage, changes in employees' health care plan, freezing contributions to employees' retirement fund, allowing the company to use subcontractors to replace office staff, and a two-tier job classification for office staff.

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