Teamsters seek to dismiss ABF lawsuit

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Updated Dec 1, 2010

Teamsters

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters last week joined three YRC Worldwide Inc. subsidiaries in seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by ABF Freight System challenging wage and benefit concessions approved by union members who work for the three YRCW entities. In a court filing Tuesday, Nov. 23, the Teamsters agreed with most of the points made by the YRCW subsidiaries in their own filings against ABF’s lawsuit.

The YRCW subsidiaries on Nov. 16 announced they had filed a motion to dismiss ABF’s complaint that alleges a violation of the National Master Freight Agreement between the subsidiaries and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. YRC Inc., New Penn Motor Express Inc. and USF Holland Inc. asked the U.S. District court for the Western District of Arkansas to dismiss ABF’s complaint because ABF is not a party to the NMFA and has no standing to challenge its amendments.

In seeking their own dismissal of ABF’s lawsuit, the Teamsters also note that ABF tried to earn similar concessions in May but that its union workers voted down those changes. The Teamsters also argue that ABF took itself out of negotiating the NMFA in 2008 and that it has no right to invoke the contract.

ABF Freight System’s complaint argues that concession agreements between the Teamsters union and the YRC Worldwide entities violate the NMFA, the collective bargaining agreement covering most unionized trucking, including drivers and dockworkers nationwide. ABF argues that the union violated the NMFA in 2009 and 2010 by entering into concessionary side agreements with the YRC Worldwide companies to the exclusion of ABF and other companies signatory to the NMFA; these agreements led to ongoing significant wage and benefit reductions and other economic concessions that were applied only to the YRC Worldwide companies.

ABF, with more than 8,000 union employees, argues the third and latest amendment to the NMFA – negotiated between the YRC Worldwide entities and the Teamsters in late September and ratified by union members Oct. 30 as part of a restructuring plan aimed at saving both the company and more than 25,000 union jobs – will “provide further wage, benefit and work rule changes that are expected to generate an average of $350 million in annual savings through the end of the extended agreement.” ABF also seeks financial damages in an amount estimated to be about $750 million by the time the NMFA is set to expire on March 31, 2013.

In a separate matter, the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee said Nov. 17 that it had been advised by YRC Inc. that the company would be making a multiregion “change of operations” that would affect several hundred union members throughout the United States and potentially close 31 small- and medium-sized terminals in three of the four Teamster regional areas in which it operates. “At this time, no hearing has been scheduled and will likely not be scheduled prior to the holidays as YRC needs to meet with each affected local union as a first step in the process,” said Tyson Johnson, TNFINC co-chair.