Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Road Haulage Group ABF Freight System Continues to Negotiate Union Deal

Accord with Teamsters Inches Closer but Spectre of YRC Case Hangs Over Talks
Shipping News Feature

US – It seems peace may be breaking out in the previously acrimonious relationship between North American trucking group ABF Freight System and the unions. Readers of previous stories will know of the accusations levied in Court by ABF, the largest subsidiary of Arkansas Best Corporation, against direct competitors YRC and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, stating that by deviating from the nationally agreed pay deal and arranging terms more favourable to YRC than to other road haulage groups the pair had effectively colluded and priced ABF out of the market.

Negotiations between ABF and the Teamsters were held by the company as an issue completely separate from the long legal wrangle but it seems that an ‘overwhelming’ vote by union employees covered by the Central Region Local Cartage supplement to the ABF National Master Freight Agreement not to strike has soften the atmosphere somewhat. A company statement says:

“Next steps toward finalisation of the national agreement will be determined shortly. The five-year ABF NMFA is the first such agreement that the company has negotiated on its own behalf. A majority of Teamster employees ratified the national agreement in June, and 26 of 27 supplements were ratified by mid-October.

“After receiving the company’s last, best and final offer on their supplement, Central Region Local Cartage employees received strike authorisation ballots in early October. Turnout was strong, with 77 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot.

“ABF wishes to thank our customers for their patience and commitment to ABF during this long and complicated process, as many people on both sides of the table worked to ensure a stronger future for our company and our employees in a very competitive marketplace. The company also recognises and appreciates the sacrifices from our union and our non-union employees to put ABF on a better path to sustained profitability for years to come.”

Now, in the light of this latest agreement, it only remains to be seen if ABF feels that the losses it has incurred since the deal between YRC and the unions went some way to keep the Kansas company viable, is worth pursuing further down the legal route.