A strike set to take place Monday at YRC Freight and Holland – two Yellow Corp. (CCJ Top 250, No. 6) operating companies – has been averted after Central States Health and Welfare Fund agreed Sunday to extend health care benefits for workers at the carriers.
YRC Freight and Holland failed to make a payment to the funds on July 15, and the Central States Board of Trustees voted July 17 to suspend health care benefits and cease pension accruals effective Sunday. In response, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) said they would prepare for a possible strike as early as Monday, July 24, if payment was not made. The union confirmed Sunday night the extension of health care benefits for Teamsters and their families was enough to call off Monday's pending strike.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas denied on Friday Yellow's request for an injunction that would have blocked its Teamsters member employees from kicking off a work stoppage.
The agreement by Central States gives Yellow 30 days to pay its bills with the understanding the company will do so within the next two weeks, according to a statement from IBT. CCJ reached out to Yellow Sunday evening but they did not reply.
"Our members at YRC Freight and Holland cannot work without health care, and the Teamsters worked tirelessly to ensure an immediate strike at Yellow could be averted,” said IBT General President Sean M. O’Brien. “These discussions were not easy, but Central States has made meaningful movement under pressure from the union. We are seeking a real resolution, but let this solution today serve as a profound reminder that our members can only endure so many sacrifices. Teamsters at Yellow simply work too hard and have already given so much.”
In June, Yellow requested a two month contribution deferral from the Health & Welfare and Pension funds to be repaid with interest immediately upon a refinancing. Yellow had advised Central States Funds that it would defer payment of health and pension contributions for June (due July 15) and July (due August 15) to preserve liquidity as it worked to obtain meetings with the union as well as secure additional financing.
With some of the deadline pressure now relieved, the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee will meet in-person with Yellow representatives on Sunday evening in Washington, D.C., to review the state of the company and the current contract.
Yellow and the Teamsters are at odds over implementation of the carrier's 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 with union approval.
Teamsters have blocked further rollout, citing that the changes violate the union's labor agreement with the fleet – a charge Yellow has denied, and the company has consistently maintained that further delay is putting the company in financial peril.
Yellow, the nation’s third largest less than truckload carrier and sixth largest transportation company, last month filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and its affiliates, alleging that the labor union breached a binding contract with Yellow and caused more than $137 million in damages by "unjustifiably blocking, for over eight months, Yellow’s restructuring plan to modernize its business, which is necessary to compete against non-union carriers that dominate the LTL business today."