Wednesday, July 22, 2009

YRC chief pulls back statements in letter to Teamsters

YRC Worldwide Inc. CEO Bill Zollars appears to be pulling back from recent comments that have sparked the ire of union workers.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters on its Web site has posted a Tuesday letter from Zollars. In the letter, he apologizes for comments to the Kansas City Business Journal that nonunion workers probably would not take further compensation cuts, even if union workers agree to an extra 5 percent wage cut and the forfeiture of 18 months of pension payments, because current cuts had been extended and nonunion workers took more of a cut to health and benefits.

Teamsters members are voting on whether to accept the new concessions package, valued at $825 million.

“YRCW is committed to the principle of ‘equal sacrifice’ and will require that our nonunion employees take as much, if not more, cuts in wages and benefits” as outlined in the tentative concessions agreement, Zollars wrote.

The Teamsters had explained to members that the concessions package included provisions that nonunion employees would “have further adjustments made to their total compensation package to bring their total wage and benefit package in line with what reductions are proposed” in the concessions.

The Teamsters Web site said Zollars’ note was a response to a Monday letter from union General President James Hoffa demanding “an immediate clarification” about public statements that contradicted the tentative agreement. A Teamsters spokesman said the union wouldn’t comment beyond what it posted online.

Zollars also said in the letter that YRC was retracting a Monday announcement about extending its delivery services to homes and businesses through a partnership with Specialized Transportation Inc. (STI), forming YRC Residential Solutions.

“YRCW will not subcontract bargaining unit work to Specialized Transportation Inc. or any other company” in violation of union agreements, Zollars wrote. “We recognize that, with more than 8,000 Teamsters on lay-off, residential delivery work must be offered to the bargaining unit.”

The Overland Park-based trucking company (Nasdaq: YRCW) has laid off thousands, closed facilities, sold property, amended bank agreements and taken other steps to avoid bankruptcy amid a drawn-out freight recession.

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