Labor Contract Trumps State Law

Article excerpt

Byline: ON THE JOB Bureau of Labor & Industries

Question: We are a manufacturing company and are in the process of renegotiating our collective bargaining agreement with the union that represents our employees. We have manufacturing plants in several other states as well as here in Oregon.

There are a couple of areas in which the union representatives proposed revisions and additions to the contract, and our local management team is concerned that we are unable/cannot agree to the items/issues based on the fact that Oregon state laws apply that are different from the other states where plants are located.

One area is rest breaks. It would be beneficial for the employees and the efficiency of our manufacturing operations if we could agree to the union's proposal, but some members of the management team insist that Oregon's laws regarding breaks do not offer the flexibility that would be necessary to follow the union's proposed rest and meal breaks schedule.

Would Oregon law trump a collective bargaining agreement about rest and meal breaks?

Answer: As long as the terms of the collective bargaining agreement specifically prescribe rules concerning rest and meal periods, the rest and meal period provisions of Oregon law do not apply.

And since you are involved in the bargaining process, you may be interested in some of the other exceptions incorporated in Oregon laws that apply to collectively bargained agreements. We've summarized the most important ones below:

Final paycheck rules: If a union agreement provides for payment of wages upon termination, the final pay provisions of the law do not apply (pursuant to ORS 652.140(5)). These are the laws that outline the time limits that apply to employers providing the final paycheck to employees, depending on the type of separation from employment and whether the employee has provided notice to the employer. …