Teamsters slam Yellow's consolidation proposal

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Updated Mar 24, 2023

This story was updated Friday, March 24 at 7 a.m. CT with additional comment from Yellow. 

The Teamsters union Thursday rejected Yellow's (CCJ Top 250, No. 6) 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."

International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) General President Sean O'Brien said he and General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman have traveled the country meeting with the union's freight members, "who repeatedly tell us the company's proposed changes to the contract are unacceptable."

Yellow is in 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. 

"Our One Yellow modernization effort is vital to the jobs of more than 22,000 employees, the success of our nearly 100-year-old company, our shareholders and the American taxpayer, " Yellow said via statement emailed to CCJ. "In 2022, we secured the IBT’s approval to implement One Yellow in the Western United States. Thanks to that agreement, today, One Yellow is succeeding in the West." 

The union appears dug in with little flexibility in keeping One Yellow's rollout at bay under the proposed terms and cancelled a Change of Operations Committee meeting with Yellow that was planned for next month – "an unfortunate attempt to halt Yellow’s modernization efforts, known as One Yellow, which has been in the works and well-publicized since 2019," Yellow's statement reads. 

O'Brien said Yellow's proposal sought operational changes without a vote of the Teamsters' freight membership, "a clear violation of Article XII of the union's constitution as the company's request would change the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement," he said. "Yellow doesn't want to put this to a vote because they know the Teamsters Constitution and they know our members will unanimously reject their proposal. This company doesn't get to run around and ignore workers' rights. We're not playing games."

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[Related: Teamsters, TForce Freight kick off contract negotiations]

Yellow, however, told CCJ Thursday afternoon it refuted some of the Teamster's claims, adding "unfortunately, the IBT has been mischaracterizing our statements and positions. For months, we have worked in good faith with more than 100 local unions as well as Teamster leadership to address questions and concerns of our employees," the company said. "Maintaining an open line of communication is essential. Yellow has always been a proud IBT employer. In a time when today’s trucking industry is predominantly non-union, our One Yellow strategy will help preserve more than 22,000 well-paying union jobs."

The proposal 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. It also calls for converting 121 driving jobs to “utility positions." The union claims 104 Teamster locals would be impacted by Yellow's proposed changes, adding as many as 100 local unions have already objected to it. 

Yellow, for its part, called on the IBT to allow employees to vote on its proposed changes and "let employees make their own decisions about Yellow’s continued modernization efforts and their future job security."

Teamsters also claim Yellow's current proposal fails to address concerns raised by the union and that it will demand established work standards and contractual protections be maintained, that primary lanes be preserved, and traditional road driver classifications and dock workers be protected. 

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].