YRC Worldwide is facing off against a union representing a small group of employees, demanding those workers take the same wage and benefit cuts already accepted by thousands of Teamsters and nonunion co-workers.
The $4.9 billion less-than-truckload operator said it will end a contract extension April 15 that covers about 200 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The contract expired March 31, and talks are deadlocked over the wage and benefit concessions.
“We will actually lock them out,” said James Welch, CEO of the holding company. “We’re hoping that will help force some more serious negotiations.”
A lockout of the IAM workers would have no impact on customer service, and would close no terminals or facilities in the YRC Freight or Holland networks, Welch said. “We’re very confident we won’t have any business interruptions,” he said.
YRC Worldwide is the largest unionized trucking employer, but the vast majority of its union employees are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “The IAM represents less than one-tenth of 1 percent” of the company's 32,000 employees, Welch said.
The IAM members are concentrated at about 10 terminals in Chicago, St. Louis and a few other areas, Welch said. “It’s real easy for us to reroute trucks (for maintenance); we have garages across our service network,” he said.
Starting in 2009, the Teamsters employees agreed to three rounds of wage and benefit reductions that took wages down 15 percent and temporarily suspended pension contributions. Reduced pension contributions resumed in 2012. The company's current contract with the Teamsters expires in 2015.
The IAM employees “did not take the wage and pension adjustments everyone else took,” Welch said. “They refused to go along with the shared sacrifice our union and nonunion employees took. We feel we need to get everyone on the same page.” Representatives of the IAM were not immediately available for comment.
“It’s hard to have two employees working side by side when one has agreed to concessions and one has not," Welch said. "These machinists are at a small number of facilities. We’ve made it clear we’re serious about reducing the cost and shared sacrifice.”