Carrier expects to win wage concessions similar to givebacks at YRC
Less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight System is deep in talks with the Teamsters union to win concessions similar to those the union gave financially troubled competitor YRC Worldwide, including an overhaul of the company’s pension system, the carrier said.
“We are in a dialogue with the Teamsters and hopefully we will reach an agreement soon,” ABF Chief Operating Officer Wesley R. Kemp told reporters Monday at the annual Transcomp and Intermodal Expo.
Kemp said the carrier expects to win wage concessions similar to the givebacks that lowered wages some 15 percent at YRC, the nation’s largest LTL operator. ABF also wants to restructure the company’s pension system by switching to a profit-sharing arrangement to match the savings YRC is gaining from an 18-month hiatus from contributing to the driver pension plan.
The agreement between the Teamsters and YRC negotiated a couple of months ago, said Kemp, “was just too great a difference to ignore” between the cost structures at the country’s only large unionized LTL carriers.
He said the company has no deadline for an agreement and that talks have been “productive and cordial.” Union leaders understand, he said, “if something happens to YRC, we are the last employer of Teamsters standing in this industry. Common sense will prevail in the end.”
Kemp would not specifically say whether he expects YRC, which holds more than 20 percent of the LTL market by most estimates, to survive its financial troubles, but ABF has contingency plans for the carrier’s demise in a tough economy.
“The way we see it, someone will exit the industry,” he said.