Teamsters, Yellow set to lock horns over consolidation plans

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Updated Mar 23, 2023

Yellow (CCJ Top 250, No. 6) has requested that the Teamsters Union hear this month a revised proposal to consolidate its YRC Freight, New Penn and Holland linehaul network and terminal operations as part of the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier's efforts to create a "Super Regional Carrier."

Yellow is the second phase of its One Yellow strategy to improve efficiency, speed, choice and value for its customers. Phases 2 and 3 of One Yellow, which include aligning operations in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast and Central regions, are set to take place this year. Phase 1,  integrating the linehaul networks of YRC Freight and Reddaway in the Western region to support both regional and long-haul services, was completed last year. 

Yellow Senior Vice President of Trucker Relations Bryan Reifsnyder in early February requested via letter to Teamsters General President Sean O'Brien and National Freight Director John Murphy that the union hear of its plans "on or about the week of March 10, 2023, to allow for implementation no later than April 30, 2023."

The Teamsters Union did not respond to a CCJ query this week on when the hearing might take place. Yellow, however vague with specifics, did say that "the process continues. In the meantime, we’re focused on the work at hand: moving freight for our customers," a Yellow representative told CCJ

Regardless of when a formal meeting takes place, Yellow is likely in for an uphill climb. 

The proposal sent last month, which follows the withdrawal of a previous draft Yellow issued in December, Murphy said fails to address serious concern raised by the union, adding the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC) does not endorse or approve any operational changes at Yellow.

"The Teamsters oppose any change of operations written in vague language or drafted to erode contractual standards and practices. Yellow will not be allowed to disrupt and upend our members' lives," Murphy said.

The proposed change would create 36 designated terminals and road drivers moving freight into a designated terminal could be put to work on the dock at designated terminals. Upwards of 25% of linehaul bids in the East, Central and South would do this work under the proposed change, according to the Teamsters. The proposal also calls for converting 121 driving jobs to “utility positions," a number significantly lower than 998 in the original plan filed last October.

"YRC Freight, Holland and New Penn Teamsters have time and again stepped up to save this company," Murphy wrote in a letter to all local Yellow union members. "The company needs to respect its workers and not take them for granted."

The union says it is prepared to demand that established work standards and contractual protections be maintained, that primary lanes be preserved and traditional road driver classifications and dock workers be protected.

"The Teamsters are done making concessions and we will not be pushed around," said O'Brien. "Our focus rests solely on protecting our members. If Yellow management gets in the way of that, we will go after this company with everything we've got."

Murphy and his negotiating teams will be busy headed into spring. The Freight Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters says it is preparing for upcoming national negotiations on new collective bargaining agreements covering more than 15,000 Teamsters at TFI/TForce Freight (No. 4) and ABF Freight (No. 18).

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].