Teamsters at New Penn to revote after threatened job cuts

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The Teamsters announced Monday, Aug. 17, that its members at New Penn will have the opportunity to vote again on the job security plan, and that ballots will be mailed on or about Wednesday, Aug. 19, and will be due back Sept. 9.

In a letter to the members, the union stated that when the ballots for the proposed Memorandum of Understanding on the job security plan for employees of YRC, Holland and New Penn were counted, a majority of workers at YRC and Holland ratified the agreement, while New Penn workers rejected the MOU.

The union wrote that after the ballots were counted, YRC Worldwide Inc. called for an emergency meeting with the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee, which took place Aug. 11. During that meeting, the Overland Park, Kan.-based company indicated that it planned to call for a change of operations in the near future to merge New Penn into YRCW.

The Teamsters wrote that because the merger could cost hundreds of member jobs, the majority of New Penn local unions have requested a revote by New Penn members. During a conference call with New Penn local union leaders on Aug. 12, local leaders reiterated their desire for a revote, according to the Teamsters.

The Teamsters on Aug. 10 announced that its members who work at the freight companies of YRC Worldwide – Yellow, Roadway and Holland – approved the job security plan that provides economic relief for YRCW as it works to get through the current economic crisis. The modifications were ratified by a 58.5 percent to 41.5 percent margin, with 64 percent of members casting ballots.

The Teamsters say the plan provides YRCW with more than $1.2 billion of cost savings over the remaining 44-month term of the agreement and greatly enhances YRCW’s financial position. While the wage reduction and pension terminations are effective immediately, they will not remain in effect unless: 1) YRCW and its bank group amend their loan agreements in order to provide the company with sufficient liquidity and flexibility to complete its restructuring and take advantage of the upturn in freight demand anticipated in 2010; and 2) affiliated Teamster pension funds approve the “deferral/termination” arrangement.

The plan calls for a reduction in gross wages of 15 percent from the full National Master Freight Agreement rates effective Aug. 1; this includes the 10 percent wage reduction previously ratified by the membership in January. Additionally, the plan will allow the company to terminate pension fund contributions effective from July 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2010; during this time, employees will not earn additional pension accruals or credits, but they will not lose accrued benefits or credits previously earned during this period.

The plan also provides for the issuance of options for YRCW stock to Teamsters members that would lead to employee ownership of an additional 20 percent of the company’s outstanding stock over and above the 15 percent that was negotiated at the end of last year.