International Labor Rights Forum released a new report finding that Oak Harbor Freight Lines violated international labor rights standards. Oak Harbor is a trucking firm headquartered in Auburn, Washington, that provides over-the-road transportation and delivery services for many commercial clients, including the company’s the Gap, Inc., the Maytag Corporation and others.
The report found that Oak Harbor’s decision to permanently replace its employees was a tactic to interfere with a legitimate union’s attempt to bargain a new collective agreement. The panel of international labor rights experts and social justice leaders convened by ILRF found these actions to be a violation of the internationally recognized right to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (ILO Conventions 87 and 98). According to the panel, Oak Harbor had intentionally provoked a strike by proposing changes to employees’ wages, benefits and working conditions that would be unacceptable to the union and its members during collective bargaining.
The panel also found that African-American and female employees working for a labor contracting firm hired by Oak Harbor have suffered discrimination in their work assignments, a clear violation of international and national laws.
Oak Harbor’s labor relations practices have also come under increased scrutiny by the company’s customers. Since the strike began, a number of the company’s customers reportedly have stopped using Oak Harbor for shipping, including REI, Urban Outfitters inc., and Maytag Corporation.