YRC Worldwide Inc. said today it plans to submit a revised contract proposal to the Teamsters Union after YRC's unionized workers last week rejected the company's earlier proposal to extend their current contract until 2019.
At the same time, both the company and the union said there would not be a re-vote of the proposal that was voted down resoundingly last Thursday. About 12,028 workers rejected the contract offer out of about 19,000 ballots counted. The Teamsters represent about 26,000 workers at the Overland Park, Kan.-based less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier.
In a statement, YRC said it would revise its offer to "both work within the requirements of the capital markets to refinance the company and [to] protect the jobs of its 32,000 employees." CEO James L. Welch said the carrier must achieve some level of operational cost savings in any revised proposal. He did not lay out details in the statement.
YRC is scrambling to restructure a $1.4 billion debt load, which it is financing at onerous double-digit borrowing costs. YRC has said that the cost of debt service along with wage, benefit, and other expenses have made it virtually impossible to re-invest in the business. The first principal payment on that debt, $69 million, is due Feb. 15.
Welch said in the statement that the Teamsters understand the urgency of the current situation. "Over the past few days, many employees have reached out to me expressing concern about the future of the company and about how they could protect their jobs," he said.
The company said it has resumed talks with officials at the international level of the Teamsters, an indication that Teamster General President James P. Hoffa is directly engaged in the discussions.
The initial proposal would have extended the time frame of the current contract, which is set to expire in March 2015, through March 2019. However, the proposal required the rank and file to accept additional concessions and work rule changes. Welch said the additional concessions, along with other efficiencies, would save YRC about $100 million a year.
The initial offer included a continued freeze on pension contributions at current levels, which are 75 percent less than what employees received in 2009; no wage increases for nondriver unionized employees; annual lump-sum bonus payments in the contract's first two years in lieu of wage increases; and a longer waiting period for a third week of paid vacation.
It is believed the demand for additional concessions along with a five-year contract extension were key factors behind the rank and file's decision to reject the offer. YRC's unionized workers had already agreed to three separate concessions in the 2009-2010 time period.
Tyson Johnson, head of the Teamsters' freight division, said in an internal communiquÃ© yesterday that the wide margin of the proposal's rejection precluded the need for a re-vote of the rejected contract.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that 14,600 workers rejected the contract.