OSEA provides legal services to its members, fair share fee payers and nonmember bargaining unit employees for employment-related matters. This is a service provided as part of OSEA’s desire and duty to represent all our bargaining unit members in accordance with state and federal labor laws. Every person covered by an OSEA-negotiated collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is entitled to this representation.
OSEA has a staff of 18 professional field representatives across Oregon who are all trained in labor law, including the Oregon Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), as well as being trained in other employment law areas, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. As needed, field representatives will consult with the director of field operations and director of organizing, as well as OSEA’s general counsel, to ensure that the best and most effective representation is provided.
In the event your field representative is unable to resolve a particular problem and further legal action is necessary, OSEA’s general counsel will litigate the matter, such as grievance arbitration and unfair labor practice (ULP) complaints, before the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or other administrative agency or court as appropriate.
Some employment matters may fall outside the direct representational authority of OSEA; for example, a CBA that requires matters of discrimination to be filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) or appeals of workers’ compensation claims. In these areas, OSEA staff will assist with the preparation of appeals or refer the person to an outside legal counsel who has a professional relationship with OSEA and experience in that particular field. In some cases, those attorneys may charge a fee. In matters where there has been a criminal complaint filed, OSEA may offer a referral to a criminal defense attorney; however, OSEA does not pay those fees.
In any event, where a covered employee is being investigated by his or her employer for any type of conduct or action that may lead to discipline, that person should immediately contact a chapter officer, building employee representative/steward or field representative immediately for representation. Every person covered by an OSEA-negotiated CBA has certain rights, both legal (Weingarten rights and Garrity rights, for example) and contractual under the CBA, which may be greater than provided for by law.