ABF Concessions: What Protections for Teamsters?

March 19, 2010: The International Union held a conference call on March 18 to inform ABF members that a vote on concessions is likely coming down the pike.

Freight Director Tyson Johnson said he has held some 25 conversations with ABF in the past year about their situation, and that concessions are needed to help the company stay healthy.

Surveys of members are out to ABF Teamsters, and by March 22 the International will start compiling the results. One local officer called the whole thing a dog and pony show because the survey does not provide information on what the company is asking for, or real specifics on proposals.

Concession bargaining is to follow.

A hand-shake deal may already be in place for a 15% wage cut. It is doubtful that the deal will include a temporary termination of ABF’s pension payments, as the YRCW deal does. YRCW’s pension withdrawal is supposed to end on December 31, but it is unlikely that the International Union intends to enforce that pension snap-back.

Following the call, some ABF stewards and members expressed concern about protections in any concession agreement. Tyson Johnson says any deal will have a “snap back” clause, to return to the full contract rate. If a proposed deal lasts till the end of the contract in 2013, however, that snap-back may not be worth very much. Some members have said any pay cut should provide for a partial make-up if and when the company starts making good money.

The International Union says any deal will include equality of sacrifice: salaried personnel, management and execs will take the same percentage cut that Teamsters take. Members have noted that ABF has moved to increase the limit on performance-based incentive pay for execs from $1 million to $3 million per year, but the company would have to make a lot of profit for this to become operative.

There will be a meeting of local officers to approve an agreement with ABF, and then a ratification vote by the members. The General Executive Board has taken action to override the separate Chicago Local 705 and Local 710 contracts and lump them into a national vote along with the locals in the national master contract.

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