'For our union employees if you have any questions about our proposal you may ask us. If you have feedback or input about our proposal you must bring that to the union, the Union is the lawful representative of our union employees. We simply want employees to know what we are offering and why.'
Q1. When do I need to send my paperwork into the union to change my union status?
A1: We have to be careful how we answer this question, legally. first of all, the choice of whether or not you change your union membership is entirely up to you. Oak Harbor cannot recommend for or against such action. However we can legally say this, if there is a strike and you choose to cross the picket line and continue working, you could be fined by the union for working behind a picket line. If you become a "dues paying only, non-member," or if you resign your union membership, then the union cannot fine you for working behind a picket line. The choice is entirely up to you---the timing is entirely up to you.
Q2 - I am low man on the board, if I cross the line after changing my membership status to dues only non-member and the contract gets resolved, do I keep my job or do I get offered a job based on seniority with the incoming strikers?
A2. This question calls for a complex legal analysis. All oak harbor can say is that if there is a strike and you wish to cross the picket line and continue working, we will have work available for you.
Q3. I received the letter from the company as to our rights in the event of a strike . It states in the letter that we have a couple of options available to us 1 become a “dues paying only non-member” [core member] or 2 resign completely is that an option to the members in both Washington and Oregon? Can you explain what exactly is the difference between “dues paying only, non-member” and resigning membership?
A3. If a person becomes a "dues paying only non-member" then that person will continue to pay dues to the union as they normally would. and a person in Oregon can become a dues only member just as an employee in Washington can.
A "dues paying only, non-member" continues paying their regular monthly dues to the Union. This employee is simply not covered by the Union's rules and bylaws. A person who resigns from the Union is not covered by the union's rules and bylaws and, obviously would not be paying union dues. Each union often has its own rules as to whether such employee can become a "full member" again. However, the Union cannot harm employee pension or other benefits because the employee changed their union status.
I must also tell you that a person has the right to continue to be a union member if they want and they have the right to go on strike if they want. The law protects employee choice work or not, become a non-member or not, it is the employee's choice.
Q4. Do I have to strike if I am a Teamster and my terminal strikes?
A4. No. If there is a strike, you certainly have the legal right to join the strike. Alternatively, you have the legal right to cross the picket line and continue working. Oak Harbor can tell you that if there is a strike and you wish to cross the picket line and continue working, we will have work available for you.
Q5. How long will the strike last?
A5. We don’t know. That is up to the Union. If there is a strike, we will operate our business with strike replacements.
Q6. What do I need to do to cross the picket line and work?
A6. You don’t “need to do” anything. Just come to work if you wish. However, if you cross a picket line, the Union could fine you for crossing their picket line. To avoid a union fine, you can change your union membership to a “Dues Paying Only, Non-member” or you can resign your union membership altogether. Employees have been sent the appropriate information by Oak Harbor to assist them in deciding what to do.
Q7. Can the Teamsters Union hold it against me and penalize me if I cross their picket line?
A7. The Teamsters Union can fine an employee for crossing a picket line. To avoid a fine, an employee who wishes to cross a picket line can change his union membership to a “Dues Paying Only, Non-member” (sometimes called "Financial Core Member") or to resign. Employees have been sent the appropriate information by Oak Harbor, to assist them in deciding what to do. Click HERE to learn more if you are interested in further information or want to see what informatin has been given to employees.
Q8. Will I be blackballed by the Union if I cross a picket line and continue working?
A8. No. If you cross a picket line and continue working, the Union cannot “blackball” you from future employment at Oak Harbor or anywhere else. The National Labor Relations Act guarantees those rights. The phone number for the National Labor Relations Board in Seattle is: (206) 220-6300.
Q9. If I cross a picket line, can the Union “pull my pension” or otherwise harm my benefits?
A9. No. Those benefits are covered by a Taft-Hartley Trust Fund. That means the Teamsters Union can’t contact somebody and pull pensions or harm benefits.
Q10. If I cross a picket line, does that mean I’m covered by the nonunion medical plan or the Company pension plan?
A10. No. If you cross a picket line, your wages and benefits will be the same as they were the day before the strike started. The only way this would change is if we negotiated a change with the Union, or if we reached an impasse in negotiations and implemented a new offer.
Q11. If I cross a picket line and continue working, can the Union have me fired when the strike ends?
A11. Absolutely not. The job is yours, just as it is now.
Q12. If I change my membership to a “Dues Paying Only, Non-member" (sometimes called Financial Core Member) can I become a full member again?
A12. That is up to the Union. However, if you are a “Dues Paying Only, Non-member” you can continue working for Oak Harbor before, during or after a strike, and you would be covered by whatever labor agreement is in place just like other employees who work for the Company after a strike.
Q13. If I cross a picket line and continue working, and don’t change my union membership, what could happen?
A13. The Union could fine you for violating their internal rules and by-laws.
Q14. Will the Company provide me with security if I cross the line to work?
A14. Yes. It is our job to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment. We have retained a security firm to help us in the event of a strike.
Q15. Do I have to pay Union dues when I am on strike?
A15. Again, that is up to the Union. It also depends upon what your union membership status is.
Q16. Do I get my pay or have benefits when I am on strike?
A16. Employees who are on strike will not be paid their regular hourly wages while they are on strike. Benefit coverages are covered by the requirements of the benefit plans which are in place when the strike begins. As for vacation or Holidays, we would have to get a legal opinion on that question.
Q17. If I strike, am I guaranteed reinstatement after the strike?
A17. If there is an economic strike, Oak Harbor intends to hire permanent strike replacements. When the strike ends, permanent strike replacements keep the jobs. Strikers who seek reinstatement are placed on a preferential recall list, and they are reinstated as vacancies arise.
Q18. If we turn in the paper work to become a financial core member and there is a strike, after the lapse month of medical will the company provide health insurance for the people who cross?
A18. Employees who work during a strike and are working in positions under the contract will continue to have company paid contributions into the medical and pension trust for the hours they are compensated just as the Company did prior to the strike. The normal reason employees lose medical coverage during a strike is because they are not working – employees who work are, of course, working so the Company continues to make the payments. Employees who chose to strike may be able to continue coverage by paying COBRA continuation of their medical benefits which is currently 712.90 per month for washington Plan B and in Oregon $829.84 per month (Kaiser), $839.72 per month (providence), $986.93 per month (trust plan). These amounts are as reported by the plan administrators but you may want to check for yourself.
If there would be any change in medical or retirement the union or Company will be telling employees.
The Union cannot threaten to interfere with medical or pension benefits if an employee chose to work during a strike. The union can fine a member who works during a strike but not an employee who has become a "Dues Paying Non-member" or who resigns from the union. It is legal for an employee to work during a strike. It is legal for an employee to strike during a strike. It is the employee’s free choice.
Q19. If we change our membership to a Dues Paying Only, Non-member so we can cross the picket line, when and if the strike is over, will we have the same position we had before and during the strike?
A19. Employee who sign and send in a “Dues Paying Only Non-member” letter can work in their same jobs before, during and after a strike. Employees who strike in an economic strike may be permanently replaced and if they are permanently replaced they may not have jobs to come back to but they will be put on a preferential recall list. The Company cannot guarantee that it will have all jobs available because there may be a loss of customers in a strike and accordingly a loss of work for employees to do.
Q20. Just to make sure I understand this. If I choose submit a letter becoming a Dues Paying Non-member or if I resign from the Union what medical benefits cover me? And when the strike is over and I have resigned, will I still have a job and do I still have medical coverage?
A20. Employees who work during a strike generally will perform the same type of jobs as prior to the strike or as otherwise assigned to help cover for absent employees. Employees who have union benefits will continue to have the company pay into the trust for those benefits just as before the strike. The fact that an employee works during a strike does not change their right to have their same benefits. If there would ever be a change in an employees benefits the Company or union will advise the employees.
An employee who signs a Dues Paying Only Non-member letter or who resigns will have no impact on their benefits. Benefits do not come to an employee because they are “in the union” benefits come to the employee because such benefits are in the contract and are paid for by the Company. The actual benefits come from a trust managed by both management and union trust (50% each) and the union itself does not provider or control employee benefits provided to them under the contract and paid for by the Company.
When the strike is over employees who have resigned or converted to “Dues Paying Only Non-member” will continue to work and will continue to have whatever benefits are provided to all other employees working in contract covered jobs. An employee who sends in a resignation or “Dues Paying Only Non-member” letter may not be able to vote in union votes such as who will run the union, an increase in dues or to accept a new contract. Except for the change in union related rights employees will be able to work for the Company just as before the strike. It is unlawful for the Union to threaten any employee with the loss of their job because the chose to resign or to become a “Dues Paying Only Non-member”. It is unlawful to threaten any employee with the loss of their job because the employee chooses to work.
Q21. What does it take to decertify?
A21. Oak Harbor cannot sponsor or encourage a decertification petition. That is entirely up to the employees. However, the law says that if employees wish to become non-union, they must file a “showing of interest form” signed by 30% of the bargaining unit, and fill out an “NLRB Petition.” Both forms must be submitted to the NLRB in Seattle or Portland. The NLRB has “information officers” who can explain legal rights in more detail.
Q22. There is confusion about the hershey letters and what they do for you, can you clear that up?
A22. Based on questions from employees there appears to be employee confusion regarding what happens to “benefits” if an employee should decide to sign and deliver to the union one of the two types of “Hershey” letters.
If an employee chooses to sign either of the two “Hershey” Letters that letter DOES NOT change the fact that the union continues to represent employees in a unit of employees. Signing a “Hershey” letter does not change the status of the Union as representative of bargaining unit employees.
There is one type of “Hershey” letter named “Financial Core” where an employee continues to pay dues but is no longer a full member of the union. A financial core person is no longer subject to internal union rules and fines. The letter is effective upon receipt by the union. The other type of “Hershey” letter is named “full resignation” where an employee does not pay dues after the resignation. After the letter is received by the union the person is no longer subject to the internal union rules, bylaws and fines.
Using either of form of Hershey letter is purely voluntary and Oak Harbor does not encourage or discourage their use by employees.
Employees should read the information at www.oakhanswers.com/rep/hershey.htm for the entire cover letter outlining the above “Hershey” letters.
If employees cross the picket line and continue to work, Oak Harbor will follow the terms of the terminated labor agreement just as we had been doing prior to the strike. Oak Harbor will be following the labor agreement whether employees send a “Hershey” letter to the union or don’t send one.
A question was asked is signing a Hershey letter the same as a decertification. It is not. A decertification is an NLRB election process and has nothing to do with “Hershey” letters.
Q23. Are Hershey letters still legal?
A23. We recently received an e-mail from an employee who contacted the NLRB on 9/29/08 and this is what this person said, "I checked with the NRLB regarding the Hershey letter and per Janet Little at the NLRB, The law has not been changed or turned over. It still remains the same. We as union members have a right to cross the picket line provided we give them the notice before crossing."
Q24. Will the Company be giving employees a copy of the Last Best and Final offer?
A24. The Company has given the proposal to the union and employees have the option of asking their union representative for a copy if they would like one.
Q25. When will there be a meeting between the Company and the Union?
A25. At this time (9/29/08)there are no meetings scheduled between the Company and the Union.
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