U.S. Court rules against ABF in its case against Teamsters and YRC
September 03, 2013
Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss a complaint by less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight System against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and various subsidiaries of less-than-truckload transportation services provider YRC Worldwide, ABF said today.
This conflict goes back to November 2010, when ABF signaled its intent to take legal action against the Teamsters, various subsidiaries of YRC Worldwide and other entities, following a ratified labor agreement by YRCW Teamsters members.
ABF said at the time that the reason for taking legal action was on the grounds that these organizations are violating the National Master Freight Agreement, which serves as the collective bargaining agreement for the majority of U.S.-based trucking employees.
When the original lawsuit was filed in November 2010, ABF sought to have the lower court create an appropriate grievance review committee to resolve the dispute, or to have the contract amendments benefiting only YRC declared null and void by the court, as required by the NMFA, according to the statement, adding that ABF also sought an award of monetary damages estimated to be approximately $750 million. ABF will continue to seek that relief on remand.
A November 2010 Dow Jones report stated that former YRCW President, Chairman, and CEO Bill Zollars labeled this legal challenge by ABFS as “worthless,” adding that YRCW will likely counter-sue ABFS.
In December 2010, ABF launched a Web site—abflegalaction.com—dedicated to all things pertaining to these legal issues. Included on the site is an interesting list of facts about its stance on these matters.
Some of the highlights include:
-clarifying that YRCW does not have a separate NMFA contract from ABF, stating that “there is only one National Master Freight Agreement, which all Teamster employees working for NMFA companies ratified in 2008. There is no other agreement.”;
-disputing the claim made by the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee that ABF was offered the same deal as YRCW was, with ABF saying it was never offered the same concessions granted to YRCW; and
-“In an effort to avoid filing the lawsuit and grievance, ABF attempted to negotiate industry-wide changes to the NMFA. TNFINC and its representatives responded by pressuring ABF to acquire YRC, indicating that in exchange for committing to an acquisition of YRC, that TNFINC would agree to contract changes which would make such a transaction economically viable. When we communicated our reluctance to pursue such a transaction, TNFINC representatives advised that that IBT would be unwilling to work with us, going forward, after YRC’s deal was ratified by its employees.”
What’s more, ABF stated it is not in any way trying to drive YRCW out of business. It said the company’s goal is to simply enforce the NMFA as it was agreed upon and ratified by NMFA Teamsters, as well as to focus on a level playing field for all signatories of the NMFA.
“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling and the fact that YRC received three rounds of concessions from the IBT that ABF did not also receive,” ABF officials said in a statement. “We are assessing the opinion and determining whether to pursue additional options. Since we filed the lawsuit in 2010, we have negotiated our own separate five-year contract agreement with the IBT called the ABF National Master Freight Agreement, which was ratified by a majority of our Teamster employees in June, 2013. As we have previously stated, the lawsuit and the recent contract negotiations were separate events. We continue to work with the Teamsters’ leadership to put ABF back onto a path to profitability.”
YRC officials said the company agrees with the federal court ruling to again reject a lawsuit filed by ABF Freight System against the Teamsters and YRC.
“We anticipated this outcome and are pleased with the court’s decision and supporting opinion,” said Michelle Friel, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of YRC Worldwide, in a statement.
Separately, ABF and the Teamsters last week agreed on a contract extension through September 30, 2013, as the two parties work through the process for resolving the two remaining supplemental agreements to the ABF National Master Freight Agreement. As previously reported, the national agreement was approved on June 27 by a majority of Teamster employees. ABF reiterated that the increases in contributions to health, welfare and pension plans that were supposed to begin August 1 will not take effect as scheduled until the two remaining supplemental agreements are resolved.
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