Monday, July 20, 2009

YRC Worldwide, Teamsters find their fates hitched

The Teamsters didn’t mince words.

The more than $800 million in concessions that members are voting on should “send a message to the industry players who are slashing prices in an attempt to force (YRC Worldwide Inc.) out of business that (YRC) will have the resources to be here for the long haul,” Tyson Johnson, freight division director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said in a statement this month.

The recession has wedged YRC and its union into an unlikely high-stakes partnership. In the pot: the fate of a massive trucking company, roughly 49,000 jobs (35,000 of them union jobs) and one of the last big Teamsters toeholds in the freight industry. YRC accounts for nearly half of the Teamsters freight division’s 80,000 members.

“If YRC were to go out of business, the Teamsters would be hard-pressed to replace those jobs,” said John Wagner Jr., president of North Kansas City-based logistics company Wagner Industries Inc.

The fragile alliance must navigate a rocky road. Union workers’ votes on whether to take an extra 5 percent wage cut and let YRC halt pension payments for 18 months, among other measures, are expected to be counted by early August. And those workers already accepted other pay cuts and pension payment deferrals earlier this year. YRC, meanwhile, lost $257.4 million in the first quarter. It also has been attempting to manage costs by integrating subsidiaries, laying off thousands and closing facilities. Other efforts have involved renegotiating debts and selling property, including its Overland Park headquarters. Full Story.....

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