January 17, 2014

YRC, Teamster leaders reach tentative agreement to extend contract

No details given; Company, leaders of union locals to meet Tuesday to discuss plan

By Mark B. Solomon

YRC Worldwide, Inc. and leaders of the Teamsters Union said today they have reached a tentative agreement to extend their current collective bargaining agreement.

The company and the union issued separate statements. No details on contract language were provided in either statement. YRC and leaders of Teamster locals representing about 26,000 employees will meet next Tuesday in an undisclosed location to discuss the new proposal. Should the leaders of the locals approve the offer, it will be sent to the rank-and-file for a ratification vote.

The announcement comes eight days after workers at the less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier resoundingly rejected management's initial offer to extend the contract, which expires in March 2015, until 2019. According to YRC CEO James L. Welch, the previous offer was not negotiated with the union and was instead sent directly to the rank-and-file for a vote. The revised version, by contrast, was negotiated with the union, Welch said.

"The outcome of next week's discussions is critical to the future of the company," Welch said in the statement. "The MOU extension is something our employees can have confidence is the best—and only remaining—path forward."

Welch said the new proposal contains several revisions that "address concerns raised by the Teamsters leadership and its members."

Overland Park, Kan.-based YRC is trying to refinance $1.4 billion in debt in an effort to reduce its borrowing costs and gain some financial flexibility. Its lenders have said they will not agree to a debt restructuring without an extended labor agreement in place. The last proposal included additional concessions and work rule changes that the company said would yield about $100 million in annual cost savings.

YRC has a Feb. 15 deadline to make a $69 million principal payment on the debt.

"We recognize that YRC will have to go back to the financial market to obtain financing that will permit it to operate and grow its business, but the market needs to understand that YRC's front line workers are the lifeblood of the company and, while willing to play a role, will not shoulder the entire burden," Tyson Johnson, head of the Teamsters' freight division, said in the union's statement.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Senior Editor
Mark Solomon has spent 25 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. Mr. Solomon graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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