Oak Harbor, Teamsters harden positions in standoff
Oak Harbor Freight Lines quickly recovered from the initial effects of a strike by a portion of its driver workforce and has no plans to negotiate further with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on a new labor deal, Co-President David Vander Pol said Monday.
More than 500 drivers walked off the job at Oak Harbor facilities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, after talks on a new labor contract broke down over a demand by the trucking firm that employees enroll in a company provided medical plan and forego the Teamsters-provided plan. The existing contract expired last October and Oak Harbor of Auburn, Wash., presented its last and final offer two weeks ago. The Teamsters said their action was in response to efforts by company representatives to intimidate workers and improperly change work conditions.
Vander Pol, participating in a trucking issues discussion at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals conference in Denver, said about 40 percent of the company’s employees are represented by the Teamsters, and about 25 percent of those who left have returned to work.
The regional less-than-truckload carrier, which also operates in California and Nevada, was impacted for two days in the Northwest where Teamster represented terminals exist, Vander Pol said after the public session. The motor carrier immediately began hiring replacement drivers, temporarily put some management personnel behind the wheel and received reinforcements from its non-union terminals that were able to spare workers putting in reduced hours due to declining freight volumes, he said.
New workers with driving experience were quickly put through a four-to-eight hour training course.
Meanwhile, the Teamsters this week stepped up the pressure by passing out leaflets encouraging consumers at Gap Inc. stores — Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic — to take their business to other motor carriers. The Teamsters accused the company of cutting off health care coverage to retirees to punish workers for their job action. Teamsters in California and Nevada are also picketing Oak Harbor facilities in those states.
The Teamsters have also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging worker harassment. ' Eric Kulisch