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ABF Teamsters want 2-year deal, $1 per-year wage hike, plus fringes

By John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor
December 04, 2012

Using the “aim high” theory of labor negotiations, union locals representing 7,500 Teamsters at ABF Freight System have asked the seventh-largest LTL carrier for a two-year contract with healthy wage and benefit increases.
After a “two-man” meeting of local leaders in Kansas City late last month, Teamsters locals are asking ABF for $1-per hour wage increases and additional contributions to their pension, health and benefit package.

ABF’s current contract with the Teamsters expires next March 31. The company has already asked that it negotiate separately from chief union rival YRC Worldwide, which has been revived financially under new President and CEO James Welch.
Interestingly, if the company were to agree with a two-year contract, that would mean the next contract would expire in 2015—when YRC’s contract covering some 20,000 Teamsters also expires.
Neither the Teamsters nor ABF officials are commenting publicly on the details of the contract proposals.
But Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the dissident wing of the 1.4 million member union, said in an online note to its members that it doubted whether the company would accept both the length and the wage increase as proposed.
ABF, the largest unit of parent Arkansas Best Corp., has suffered financially during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Its stock has lost more than 75 percent of its value and was trading around $8 per share recently.
Arkansas Best posted earnings of $6.5 million in the third quarter, compared with net income of $12.3 million. Company officials have publicly cited its high cost structure when compared to chief non-union competitors such as Con-way and Old Dominion Freight Line.
In addition, ABF currently is suing the Teamsters over what it views as an unfair cost advantage that YRC currently has. YRC Teamsters earn about 15 percent less than ABF Teamsters, even though both companies are signatories to the National Master Freight Agreement.

About the Author

John D. Schulz
Contributing Editor

John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. He is known to own the fattest Rolodex in the business, and is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis. This wise Washington owl has performed and produced at some of the highest levels of journalism in his 40-year career, mostly as a Washington newsman.

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Article Topics

News · LTL · ABF Freight · Teamsters · All topics


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