Teamsters approve YRC deal in ‘difficult vote’

Teamsters working for LTL giant YRC Worldwide Inc. have approved a tentative agreement aimed at protecting more than 30,000 jobs, but leadership promises to hold the struggling company’s “feet to the fire” in moving forward, the union said Sunday.YRC-Worldwide-2

Workers voted this weekend after rejecting a prior company offer. Teamsters at YRC (No. 3 in CCJ’s Top 250) approved this latest proposal by a vote of 12,267 to 6,314, or about 2 to 1.

“This was a very difficult vote for our members, but in the end they did what they believe will give this company the best chance to stay in business and protect their jobs,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president and co-chairman of the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee. “Now we will hold management’s feet to the fire to make sure our members’ jobs are protected and redouble our efforts to make sure this company handles its finances responsibly.”

The plan is designed to provide a pathway for substantial debt reduction and refinancing initiatives that will permit the company to protect jobs.

The extension “is something our employees can have confidence is the best – and only remaining – path forward,” James Welch, chief executive officer of YRC Worldwide said prior to the vote.

The agreement approved this weekend extends the labor contract through 2019 and maintains pay and pension concessions accepted by the union in 2009 as part of an effort to shore up YRC’s finances. The company had expanded rapidly heading into the recession, and is still struggling to manage more than $1 billion in debt.

Still, the Teamsters say the new deal contains significant improvements over the rejected proposal.

On Jan. 9, a vote count that offer had been rejected by more than 19,000 Teamster members.

“Once again, our members’ sacrifices are providing the lifeline for the company,” said Tyson Johnson, director of the Teamsters National Freight Division and co-chairman of TNFINC. “Now we fully expect the company to successfully conclude the deleveraging and refinancing components of the restructuring to once and for all put this company on a sustainable path.”