ABF employees reject strike in regional vote

The City Wire
October 29, 2013

A local office of ABF Freight System employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have rejected a move to strike and will continue to seek approval of a supplemental contract for the office.

According to the Teamsters, 77% of union members in the region voted, with 70% rejecting a the option to strike.

Teamsters officials will now "poll the ABF Master Negotiating Committee within the next 24 hours to determine whether to accept ABF's final offer on the last remaining open supplement."

A five-year contract between Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best – the parent company of ABF Freight – and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was approved June 27, but some supplemental provisions were rejected. Officials with both sides negotiated the rejected provisions, and the seven "local/area supplements" were again placed on the local ballots for approval.

Only the Central Region Local Cartage supplement has not been approved.

The contract, once ratified by all local regions, will cover about 7,500 employees of ABF Freight System who are members of the union. Most of those workers are drivers. ABF is the largest subsidiary of Arkansas Best, a transportation holding company. The contract includes an immediate 7% wage reduction that is recovered by the fifth year of the contract. The company was also able to negotiate for flexibility in work schedules and work across job classifications. Most of those workers are drivers.

"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," noted a company statement issued late Tuesday (Oct. 29). "The company also recognizes 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."

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