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Striking Oak Harbor Employees Honor Retirees
Date:12/5/2008

CompanyDissolvedRetiree Health Care Payments

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dozens of striking Oak Harbor employees, who are members of the Teamsters Union, held a rally yesterday on the strike line at Portland's Oak Harbor Freight terminal. Over 600 Teamster workers have been forced out on strike at Oak Harbor Freight for the past 11 weeks and recently the company cut off health care benefits from retirees.

"We believe our retirees have upheld their part of the bargain, and now the company is abandoning them," said Bob Andersen, a 14-year driver at the Portland terminal.

"The retirees are the people who built Oak Harbor Freight. It seems as if the company is done with them now and wants to get rid of them."

"This is the 73rd day of the strike," said Rick Hicks, principal officer of Teamsters Local Union 174. "Our strike has been about the many unfair labor practices that Oak Harbor has thrown at our members. And, now the company is severely hurting our retirees -- the very workers who built the company into a successful corporation. We can't allow the company to get away with ignoring the National Labor Relations Act."

Previously, workers at Oak Harbor Freight were guaranteed a continuation of their health care coverage once they retired from the company. But, Oak Harbor has abruptly ceased payments for retiree health care, causing retirees and their families to pay triple the fees they were paying beforehand.

"What the company has done to us is making it difficult to eat," said Marv Deegan, a former driver with Oak Harbor Freight in Portland. "When you are on a fixed income and you have to pay a huge amount just to keep your health care, there is hardly enough money left for food."

"Our members are steadfast in their support of the retirees that came before them at Oak Harbor," said Al Hobart, Teamsters International Vice President. "And it was terrific to have support from labor leaders in the Portland community. When labor comes together it shows the strength we have."

Also participating in the solidarity rally were representatives from the Portland area branch of Jobs with Justice, Father Bob Krueger, a member of the Workers Rights Board of Portland, and Rudy Martinez, vice president of Carpenters Local 2154, also in Portland.


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SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 81, Portland, OR
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