Wednesday, March 27, 2013

LTL Freight Trucking Group Returns to Court to Battle with Teamsters Union

Look Out for Rich Lawyers Unless a Settlement is Reached
Shipping News Feature

US - It seems that there are likely to be even more wealthy lawyers strolling the North American streets shortly as for no less than the fourth time US trucking companies go head to head in Court when less than truckload (LTL) outfit ABF Freight System Inc. battles once more against the deal which YRC Worldwide negotiated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in a convoluted settlement started a full five years ago.

At that time it was plain that without drastic action YRC were sunk. A mountain of debt and falling traffic volumes dictated, even to one of the most hard bitten unions, that the only way to save jobs was to reach a settlement that offered the company a way of continuing in business by reducing the rights of the workforce with an agreement that violated the National Master Freight Agreement, the nation wide deal which ensured workers rights across the entire country.

ABF also is a fully unionised company and was incensed at what it saw as unfair competition when appeals for the same terms were refused by union officials. Three successive rounds of talks brought what both sides agreed were workable details both for YRC and its employees, jobs would be lost, benefits cut but several thousand trucking jobs would be safe.

Estimates as to the savings made by YRC vary, $350 million per annum according to some analysts, but still ABF plough on with their appeals despite the whole matter being dismissed by the Courts, firstly in 2010, a decision overturned the following year, and then again last year. All this against the background of negotiations between ABF and the Teamsters regarding the terms of employment of around seven and a half thousand staff, all of whom see their contracts expire on the 31st March.

Perhaps this latest appeal is merely a ruse by ABF to obtain similar terms to that of its larger rival and it is hard to see what grounds can now exist to overturn the last decision but the labour contract needs to be finalised and unless somebody blinks soon expect some satisfied smiles on the faces of some in the legal profession.

For a history of this dispute check out the Handy Shipping Guide News archive by typing a suitable word (YRC, ABF etc.) into the News Search box at the top of any page.