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.