The decisive rejection yesterday by YRC Worldwide Inc.'s unionized workers of the company's proposed five-year contract extension was more than a referendum on the merits of the proposal. It was a referendum on the past four years.
Since 2009, the less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier's 26,000-member rank and file have agreed to multiple concessionary agreements to keep their employer alive. The givebacks have resulted in reduced wages and vastly diminished pensions. For workers who may have owned company stock before 2009, an agreement reached on New Year's Eve of that year to swap $530 million in debt for $1 billion in new equity—while it kept the company out of bankruptcy—diluted the value of their holdings to virtually nothing. What remained for the workers were their paychecks, their health insurance, and a pension that had been cut by 75 percent.
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