Friday, July 10, 2009

Pact shields union jobs, reduces costs

New Penn Motor Express’ parent company has reached a tentative deal with the Teamsters that will reduce the firm’s expenses and protect union jobs.

YRC Worldwide Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters agreed to modify terms of their current labor agreement, according to statements from the company and union issued yesterday.

YRC’s stock price, which opened the day at a 52-week low, shot up on the news and closed at $1.49, an increase of $0.60, or 67 percent. The stock has traded between $0.89 and $22.52 during the past year.

Details of the agreement are expected to be released next week after further discussions with the union, news releases from YRC and the IBT said. The modified contract will be voted on by YRC employees who are represented by the Teamsters.

New Penn, a trucking firm based in South Lebanon Township, employs more than 2,000 people and operates a fleet of more than 750 tractors and 1,700 trailers.

YRC Worldwide, with headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., and 49,000 employees, is the holding company for a group of brands, including New Penn, Holland, YRC and YRC Logistics.

The Teamsters say the deal calls for “equal sacrifice” from workers and the company, according to The Associated Press. In earlier negotiations, the Teamsters expressed concern with issues they felt would affect them and not YRC. One of those issues was that YRC was asking to stop its pension contributions for 14months, which would save $500 million, but the workers would not have received anything in return.

“This is a tough situation for the company and our members,” Teamsters Freight Division Director Tyson Johnson said in a statement. “We are confident this tentative agreement balances the need to provide job security while maintaining good quality jobs.”

“We appreciate the ongoing willingness of the Teamsters leadership to work with the company to identify ways to improve the financial position of YRC Worldwide during this severe economic recession,” YRC President and Chief Operations Officer Mike Smid said in a release. “Our employees are the most dedicated and professional in the industry, and their continued loyalty to serving our customers remains unrivaled.”

In January, the 35,000 union members agreed to a 10 percent pay cut in exchange for a 15 percent stake in the company.

YRC has sold a number of its properties, including its corporate headquarters, to preserve liquidity and has made deals with creditors to stay within terms of its debt obligations.

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