Sunday, November 19, 2017

Teamsters Support Brown-Neal Legislation to Solve Pension Crisis

The “Butch Lewis Act of 2017” Will Provide a Path to Recovery for Hundreds of Pensions Facing Insolvency

The Teamsters Union strongly supports legislation introduced today by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) that would establish a new agency within the U.S. Treasury Department authorized to issue bonds in order to finance loans to pension plans in financial distress.

The “Butch Lewis Act of 2017,” named after a Teamster retiree leader who passed away two years ago, would provide a path to fixing the country’s growing pension crisis by providing the financial support the plans need to avoid insolvency. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa expressed the union’s full support in a video statement.

“The Teamsters Union proudly endorses the Butch Lewis Act without any reservations,” Hoffa said.
“Between the hard work of Sen. Brown and Rep. Neal’s offices and our Teamster pension task force, I believe we have found a solution to this very difficult challenge.”

The agency, named the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA), would provide these loans to “critical and declining” multiemployer pension funds. The loan terms will require plans to make interest payments for 29 years with final interest and principal repayment due in year 30.
“This is a plan that will work,” Brown said. “This is a plan that will work without cuts.”

“Americans who worked hard their entire lives and planned for secure retirements should not have the rug pulled out from under them,” Neal said. “With this bill, we responsibly shore up multiemployer pension plans and guarantee retirees the full benefits they earned.”

Rita Lewis, the widow of Butch Lewis, spoke passionately about the four-year fight her husband led to save the pensions of thousands of active and retired Teamsters in the Central States Pension Fund.

“No one should have to suffer through the past four years of stress,” Lewis said. “This bill must be passed by the end of the year – this is not a partisan issue. We’ve been held hostage long enough. A promise is a promise is a promise.”

New bill aims to shore up Teamsters pension plan

A bill introduced by Democrats in Congress on Thursday aims to help more than 30,000 Michigan current and retired Teamsters union members avoid pension cuts related to the distressed Central State Pension Plan.

Financial problems have left the pension plan severely underfunded and could force cuts in pension payments to hundreds of thousands of retirees nationwide.

Sponsors of the bill, including Reps. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn and Dan Kildee of Flint Township, say the legislation would shore up the Central States Pension Fund and 200 other multiemployer pension plans in danger of insolvency in the next 10 years.

The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act would create a new office in the U.S. Treasury Department to issue bonds to finance loans to distressed pension plans, allowing them to remain solvent and continue to provide benefits for retirees and workers.

“The No. 1 thing is there would be no cuts for workers,” Dingell said in an interview. “They put their money in for a lifetime. Can you imagine what it’s like to work a lifetime, live by the rules, get to your 70s and suddenly have no retirement security?”

Dingell said she hopes to convince some Republican colleagues to sign onto the bill, increasing its chances of getting a vote on the House floor.

Last year, the Treasury Department rejected a Central State Pension Plan proposal that would have cut retiree benefits by as much as 70 percent, affecting an estimated 273,000 retirees.

Treasury rejected the proposal based on a review by outside attorney Kenneth Feinberg, a victim compensation expert, who concluded the plan didn’t demonstrate how the reductions would keep the pension plan from becoming insolvent or show they were being equitably distributed.

The lead sponsors of the legislation are Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Monday, November 13, 2017

ABF Freight Announces Negotiations Start Date with Teamsters

Current agreement expires March 31, 2018

ABF Freight, the less-than-truckload carrier operated by ArcBest, announced that ABF and the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC) have agreed to exchange initial proposals on December 18 and 19, 2017, and begin negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement the week of January 7, 2018.

TNFINC is the negotiating committee of local unions that are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. ABF Freight is the largest subsidiary of ArcBest and was founded in 1923.

“We look forward to working with the Teamsters’ leadership to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that appropriately reflects the competitive environment in which we operate,” said ABF Freight President Tim Thorne.

The current collective bargaining agreement, known as the ABF National Master Freight Agreement, expires at midnight on March 31, 2018. It covers approximately 8,600 ABF Freight Teamster employees in various locations across the United States, including road drivers, city drivers, dockworkers, mechanics and clerical personnel.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Brown, Ryan outline plan to salvage pension funds

Sen. Sherrod Brown plans to introduce a bill as early as this week that he says will guarantee thousands of retirees in Ohio receive the pensions they originally were promised.

At a news conference Monday in Youngstown with Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, Brown said he wants Congress to create a new federal office that would allow no fewer than seven pension funds in the state to borrow enough money to remain solvent and continue providing pensions for retirees.

The office, which would be called the Pension Rehabilitation Fund and placed inside the U.S. Department of Treasury, would supervise the loans which would come from the sale of U.S Treasury bonds from private investors. Brown, D-Ohio, hopes to attach the bill to a larger spending bill expected to be passed at the end of the year by Congress.

“All of you here today and the thousands of retired Teamsters, miners, builders, and others across Ohio earned your pensions over a lifetime of hard work,” Brown said.

“Now those pension plans are underwater,” Brown said. “It’s bad enough that Wall Street squandered workers’ money — and it’s worse that the government that’s supposed to look out for these folks is trying to break the promise made to these workers.”

“Not on our watch,” Brown said. “We won’t allow that to happen.”

Ryan said, “We in Congress must do everything in our power to protect the retirement these Americans have earned.”

Most of those impacted are Teamsters covered by the Central States Fund, a multi-employer fund that serves trucking companies and covers 400,000 retirees across the country. Central States has warned it might have to cut pensions by an average of 22 percent for retirees because it has $35 billion in liabilities and just $17.8 billion in assets.

But, the bill also is aimed at propping up a number of other pension funds, including the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, the Ironworkers Local 17 Pension Plan, the Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Plan and the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan.

Brown’s bill is considered a more realistic approach than one he co-sponsored in 2015 with by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, who wanted to prop up the plans by closing loopholes in the estate tax and ending a tax break on the sale of art. That bill had no chance of congressional approval.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

UPS Revenues Rise, but Profits Flat in Third Quarter

UPS Inc. reported third-quarter profits that were nearly flat compared with a year ago after easing 0.5%. And the parcel giant also announced a 4.9% rate increase to match other less-than-truckload carriers.

UPS earned $1.26 billion during the period ended Sept. 30, compared with $1.27 billion the year before. On a per-share basis, income rose a penny to $1.45 because there were as much as 12 million fewer shares outstanding than a year ago due to company buybacks.

Revenue grew 7% to $16 billion, surpassing a $15.6 billion forecast.

“Our e-commerce and cross-border solutions helped UPS deliver strong revenue growth of 7% on a 4.6% increase in daily shipments. In the U.S., increasing demand for UPS Next Day Air and Ground products drove revenue growth,” said David Abney, UPS chairman and CEO.

“Focus on fundamentals, combined with the benefits of recent investments produced good results, especially when you consider the unexpected headwinds we faced,” he said.

Atlanta-based UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics list of the top 100 for-hire carriers in North America.

UPS announced that it would raise rates 4.9% on UPS Ground, UPS Air, UPS Air Freight and international services, effective Dec. 24, matching similar announcements from leading less-than-truckload carriers such as Old Dominion Freight Lines.

UPS also plans to hire 95,000 seasonal employees for the holidays and highlighted that over the last three years about 35% of those workers get offered permanent jobs.

In the UPS Domestic Package segment, revenue grew 3.9% to $9.6 billion, but operating income slipped 5.6% to $1.2 billion. The division, which includes UPS Next Day Air, UPS Ground and UPS Deferred, saw a 3.4% increase in volume to 15.9 million packages and a 2% price increase to $9.64. The company blamed lower profits on a $50 million financial hit from natural disasters and $40 million for construction of new buildings and “deployment of Saturday operations.”

UPS Chief Financial Officer Richard Peretz attributed the $50 million to the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida and the wildfires in California.

The UPS International Package division, which has fueled growth in recent quarters, continued to record a strong performance this time around, too. Revenue climbed 11% to $3.4 billion and operating income expanded 8.9% to $627 million. Exports generated the best results in the international division with a 12% hike in revenue to $2.6 billion on a 19% increase in volume to 1.4 million packages. International Domestic daily shipments increased 5.7%, led by double-digit growth across several European countries.

UPS also highlighted a joint venture with SF Express, a small-package carrier in China. Regulators in China recently approved the partnership, opening up the large population to the UPS International network.

“We were excited that we did get approval in a timely fashion. It’s so important because there are so many opportunities between China and the United States,” Abney said.

UPS also received two Boeing 747-8 aircrafts in October with a third scheduled to be delivered in late November, planes that will be used for Trans-Pacific shipments.

The UPS Supply Chain Solutions and UPS Freight segment also produced significant growth during the quarter, outpacing all other divisions on a percentage basis. Revenue grew 13% to $3 billion and operating income climbed 9.7% to $22 million.

The segment encompasses the third-party logistics operations, including freight broker Coyote Logistics, and the less-than-truckload business.

UPS Supply Chain Solutions grew revenue 15% year-over-year to $2 billion and UPS Freight revenue improved 11% to $778 million.

Within UPS Freight, less-than-truckload revenue increased 9.3% to $673 million and total shipments rose 1.5% to 2.6 million. Weight per LTL shipment also grew 3.9% to 1,062 pounds and revenue per 100 pounds of freight rose 3.6% to $24.47.

UPS slightly raised full 2017 earnings per growth forecasts a nickel on the low end to $5.85 to $6.10.

Abney made a brief mention of the ongoing talks with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on a new contract covering package and freight employees. The current five-year collective bargaining agreement expires July 31, 2018. Formal negotiations will officially begin in January.

“We’ve worked with the Teamsters for more than 80 years with the objective of providing industry-leading service to our customers, so we can create new jobs and reward employees for contributing to the company’s success. We expect the negotiations to move forward in a constructive matter,” Abney said.

UPS commits to expanding use of collision mitigation technology

UPS plans to outfit more than 60 percent of its Class 8 tractor fleet with collision mitigation technology that alerts drivers when a stationary object is in front of the vehicle, or when a moving object is nearby, the company announced on Tuesday.

Every new Class 8 tractor purchased by UPS since 2015 has been outfitted with the technology, which features blind spot alerts, lane departure alerts, electronic stability control and automatic brake application with forward collision warnings.

The company announced that it would expand its use of advanced collision mitigation technology to an additional 5,700 existing tractors. When the expansion is complete, UPS will have more than 11,000 Class 8 tractors outfitted with the technology.

“UPS has some of the safest drivers on the road, and some of our best drivers have told us that collision mitigation systems help make them even better drivers,” Carlton Rose, the president of global fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS, said. “This investment is indicative of UPS’s commitment to the safety of our employees, their families, our customers and the motoring public.”

The collision mitigation technology package will supplement pre-existing safety features on the vehicles like adaptive cruise control that slows the vehicles to help avoid collisions and promote fuel economy.

“As truck drivers, we all know the right side of our vehicle is our largest blind spot,” John McKown, a UPS Freight driver and captain of American Trucking Association’s America’s Road Team, said.

“Now we have technology that watches this every second of the day. Initially, I thought the blind spot alarms would be an annoyance, but now that I’ve driven with this technology I’ve become a believer."

"Words can’t describe how much I appreciate UPS’s commitment to safety and investing in this technology.”

ArcBest Announces Third Quarter 2017 Results

Third quarter 2017 revenue of $744.3 million, and net income of $14.8 million, or $0.56 per diluted share.  On a non-GAAP basis, third quarter 2017 net income of $15.5 million, or $0.59 per diluted share.

Increased revenue and profit in Asset-Based services positively impacted by improved pricing 

Third quarter Asset-Light revenue increase and operating income improvement impacted by positive Expedite trends

ArcBest reported third quarter 2017 revenue of $744.3 million compared to third quarter 2016 revenue of $713.9 million.  Third quarter 2017 operating income was $24.3 million compared to operating income of $20.4 million last year.  Net income of $14.8 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, compared to third quarter 2016 net income of $12.9 million, or $0.49 per diluted share.   

Excluding certain items in both periods as identified in the attached reconciliation tables, non-GAAP net income was $15.5 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, in third quarter 2017 compared to third quarter 2016 net income of $12.6 million, or $0.48 per diluted share. On a non-GAAP basis, operating income was $27.0 million in third quarter 2017 compared to third quarter 2016 operating income of $21.7 million.  Cost controls resulting from the enhanced market approach implemented at the beginning of the year continue to be in-line with expectations. 

“Our enhanced market approach, tighter capacity and a generally favorable pricing environment all contributed to improved third quarter results,” said ArcBest Chairman, President and CEO Judy R. McReynolds. “Our expedited business was particularly strong, and on the asset-based side, we continue to make progress on the implementation of our space-based pricing initiative, which took effect August 1. While we experienced some negative effects in our asset-based business from hurricanes in the southern U.S. and Puerto Rico, customers seeking total logistics solutions and guaranteed capacity are increasingly looking to ArcBest to fulfill their supply chain needs.”

Full Third Quarter Results.......................