BNA Daily Labor Report: IBT, YRCW Reach Agreement

July 10, 2009: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has reached a tentative agreement with YRC Worldwide Inc. on modifications to the terms of their current collective bargaining agreement that would reduce the company's cost structure while protecting IBT members' jobs, the company and union announced July 9.

“This is a tough situation for the company and our members,” Tyson Johnson, Teamsters freight division director and co-chairman of the National Freight Industry Negotiating Subcommittee, said in a statement July 9. “Our members should know our freight leaders, pension fund trustees, Teamster staff and independent experts have worked tirelessly to evaluate the situation and develop a solution that protects our members and allows the company to survive the worst freight recession in several generations. We are confident this tentative agreement balances the need to provide job security while maintaining good quality jobs.”

YRCW, based in Overland, Kan., and IBT June 29 exchanged proposals soon after the company reopened its contract with the union, citing economic reasons (121 DLR A-13, 6/26/09). The agreement would cover 40,000 drivers, dockworkers, clerical employees, and others, at each of YRCW's subsidiaries, including Yellow Transportation, Roadway Express Inc., USF Holland, and the New Penn Motor Express. It would expire March 31, 2013, the end of the National Master Freight Agreement's term.

YRCW Cites ‘Severe Economic Recession.'

“We appreciate the ongoing willingness of the Teamsters leadership to work with the company to identify ways to improve the financial position of YRC Worldwide during this severe economic recession,” Mike Smid, president and chief executive officer of YRCW, said in a statement July 9.

On June 18, YRCW announced an agreement with the Central States, Southeast, and Southwest Areas Pension Fund, the largest of the company's IBT multiemployer defined benefit pension funds, that would allow the company to use real estate as collateral in lieu of pension contribution payments during the second quarter. The company said it would defer $83 million in payments to the fund and repay the deferred contributions over three years beginning in January 2010. The company announced July 8 that it would defer an additional $11 million as seven additional IBT funds have joined as participants in the same agreement.

The company said it will continue discussions on this topic with its remaining IBT multiemployer pension funds.

IBT spokesman Galen Munroe July 9 declined to comment on the specific details of the tentative agreement, saying the union would not comment beyond what appears on the Web site.

YRCW Temporarily Not Contributing to Pension

Teamsters for a Democratic Union, however, in a July 9 statement said language that would grant YRCW “a temporary suspension of the company's participation in IBT pension plans” is the centerpiece of the tentative agreement. TDU did not have any other details on the tentative agreement.

Details of the tentative contract are expected to be available the week of July 13, following further discussions with labor leadership, the company said in a statement.

This is the second time in the last year that YRCW and the Teamsters have reopened their contract. Union members Jan. 8 voted to ratify a proposed modification to NMFA that reduced gross wages and mileage rates by 10 percent and eliminated a cost-of-living adjustment, in exchange for a 15 percent ownership stake in the company (6 DLR A-7, 1/12/09).

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