Friday, January 23, 2009

YRC fleet getting new logo

Drivers who know the ubiquitous Yellow Transportation and Roadway trucks rolling down the nation’s highways will begin to see another logo attached to those names.

As YRC Worldwide Inc. gets closer to completing the merger of its two biggest trucking companies, the Overland Park company has unveiled a new logo for the name of the new carrier, YRC.

The logo combines the colors of the two companies: swamp-holly orange for Yellow and the familiar dark blue for Roadway.

Despite the new name of the combined carrier, the familiar “Yellow” and “Roadway” signs on the trailers and tractors won’t go away, said Greg Reid, YRC’s chief marketing officer.

“It’s important to leverage the history of those two brands, so you’ll still see them in the marketplace,” said Reid, who also is executive vice president of YRC’s enterprise solutions group. “There will just be more significant emphasis on ‘YRC’ as a visual component next to those brands as the integration is completed.”

YRC is expected to complete the merger of Yellow and Roadway operations in the spring.

The company has made other moves to survive the economic downturn, including wage cuts, the sale and leaseback of many terminals, and discussions with lenders to amend requirements on debt levels.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

UPS Starts New NASCAR Era with Roush Fenway Racing

New Driver David Ragan Poised for Victory In 2009 Sprint Cup Series Season

Counting down to the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, UPS today announced further details of its 2009 NASCAR campaign.

A long-time fixture in the popular sport of stock car racing, UPS starts the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the familiar position as a race team primary sponsor. This year, however, the world’s largest package delivery company is aligned with a new driver and team. At Daytona, UPS makes its official debut aboard the No. 6 Ford Fusion fielded by Roush Fenway Racing for rising star driver David Ragan.(See b-roll of David Ragan )

Ragan barely missed the 2008 Championship Chase, finishing 13th in points with six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. He led the Sprint Cup Series in laps completed in a display of consistent, safe driving befitting of UPS.

In addition to its alignment with the powerhouse Roush team, the UPS on-track presence will be accentuated with dramatic new race car graphics in the brand’s signature brown hue. A new UPS 30-second TV commercial featuring Ragan also will launch in conjunction with the Daytona 500 as part of a season-long advertising campaign.

"There is a great deal of positive anticipation for the new season" said Ron Rogowski, director of sponsorships for UPS. "We have a lot of confidence in the Roush organization to field winning entries and we’re equally confident that David Ragan will be a strong ambassador for the UPS brand"

In 2009, UPS begins its 10th year as the Official Delivery Company of NASCAR and its ninth consecutive year of primary sponsorship in the league’s top-ranked Sprint Cup Series. UPS uses the immensely popular stock car league as the backdrop for marketing and sales-driven commercial activation as well as employee and customer entertainment and recognition.

"We consider 2009 the start of a new chapter for UPS in NASCAR" added Rogowski. "Race fans can expect UPS to deliver a racing program that’s exciting, with a few surprises as well"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

USF Holland Launches New Guaranteed Window Delivery Service

USF Holland, a subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc., announced today the launch of a new Guaranteed Window Delivery service. With the new service offering, customers can request four levels of window precision to meet their time-specific delivery needs:

-- Single-Hour - For deliveries within a one-hour time window (e.g., between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on a specific day).

-- Multi-Hour - For deliveries within a multiple-hour time window (e.g., between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on a specific day).

-- Single-Day - For deliveries on a specific day that is different than normal delivery standards (e.g., within normal business hours on the second day beyond normal delivery schedules).

-- Multi-Day - For deliveries that must be made within a multiple-day window (e.g., between normal business hours Wednesday through Friday on specific dates).

Shipments using the new Holland Guaranteed Window Delivery services arrive on time -- not early, not late -- and receive priority handling and visibility. All four levels of service are backed with the Holland standard money-back guarantee. Customers can use Holland Guaranteed Window Delivery services to reduce charge backs, improve vendor scorecard performance, and manage inventories and production costs with precision. These services also take the guess work and costs out of installations, distributions and other projects.

"Guaranteed Window Delivery expands upon the Holland guaranteed and expedited delivery service portfolio that is already second to none in the industry," said Keith Lovetro, President and CEO of YRC Regional Transportation. "When customers need speed and precision in their supply chains, Holland continues to provide a variety of options to meet those needs."

Lovetro added, "Holland provides a highly reliable standard next-day delivery service in more lanes than any other competitor in its region. When customers need even greater precision, they can tap a variety of options that include expedited deliveries beyond 500 miles, guaranteed by 9 a.m., Noon, or 3:30 p.m., and now guaranteed delivery within any time window or day window. All options include Holland peace-of-mind reliability and a reasonable price when compared with traditional expedited services."

Lanes eligible for the Holland Guaranteed Window Delivery service can be viewed when customers perform transit time or rate quotations lookups on its secured, Web site. Customers can also call their local Holland service centers for additional information.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Union float to reflect America

'Mt. Labormore' of average Joes

One of the first things artists David Hatch and Melanie Devlin did after receiving orders last month to create the labor movement's first float for an inaugural parade was to take a paring knife and chainsaw to carve a row of four heads from a large chunk of foam.

But when word reached the leaders of Washington labor unions that the float would feature the four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, they insisted on less Americana and more attention to working people.

There will be no shortage of Americana during Barack Obama's inauguration, but only one float is likely to deliver as insistently political a message as the 24-foot rolling confection completed in a warehouse here Friday.

"For everyone in the labor movement, this is a wonderful historic opportunity," said Chris Chafe, executive director of the Change to Win coalition, which is partnering on the float with the AFL-CIO and National Education Association. "It's nice to be acknowledged as an active part of American life."

With new orders, Hatch and Devlin turned the four Mt. Rushmore chief executives into proletarians: Lincoln became a bearded welder, Roosevelt a redheaded doctor, Jefferson a cook standing at alert, and Washington a construction worker with vaguely aboriginal features.

"We're calling it Mt. Labormore," said Hatch. "They were pretty ardent about just leaving it the American people - average Joes."

Four years after a tempestuous rift - five large unions led by the Service Employees International Union, quit the AFL-CIO to create Change to Win - the movement has found itself uncommonly united.

Unions played key roles on behalf of Obama and other Democratic candidates in November and now are trying to leverage that clout as they push Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize. Once rivalrous elements of labor are working so closely that there are rumors that the Change to Win's renegade unions may be negotiating to rejoin the AFL.

"There's a high degree of collaboration and strategic planning," said Chafe. "It's far too early to speculate what the structural outcome will look like . . . There's going to be ongoing unity within the labor movement."

The challenge of putting that agenda on wheels fell to Proof Productions, a union scenic shop that specializes in theater stage sets and has long contributed floats to local Labor Day parades. Owner Stephen McEntee rented a yellow Penske flatbed truck and wrapped its cab in vinyl stars and stripes with the slogan, "Honoring America's Workers." A large wooden panel would be erected in the bed, perforated by five rotating stars each preaching part of labor's legislative agenda, including "Health Care For All," "Good Jobs Green Jobs" and an explicit "Free Choice Act."

Typically, Proof designs floats for optimum visibility between 50 and 100 feet. After determining that the president's riser was likely to be 150 feet from the float when it passed, McEntee's crew went outside, measured 200 feet with a laser, ensured Obama would be able to read the slogans.

"There's some concern that has popped up here and there that EFCA might not be high on the agenda right out of the box," said Jonathan Tasini, executive director of the Labor Research Association, using the acronym for the Employee Free Choice Act.

The float was to be reassembled last night by local stagehands so that a local teamster could drive it down the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route, surrounded by 250 union members.

Afterward, the float will be taken apart again, and its components returned to New Jersey. "For a future use to be determined," said McEntee. "I would think the AFL-CIO would want to use it in a Labor Day Parade."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Teamsters deal may play key role in YRC’s survival

Pressured to the point of trading an ownership stake for union wage concessions, YRC Worldwide Inc. has passed a crucial step to surviving 2009.

“It was a key part of our self-help strategy,” CEO Bill Zollars said. “We started working on making sure that we would have as much of a cushion as we possibly could in this downturn no matter how long or how deep it got.”

Analysts praised the $220 million to $250 million in annual savings YRC expects from a reworked labor agreement. But academics with union expertise said concessions-for-equity deals can help as well as hurt company-worker relationships.

The trucking industry — and YRC — has struggled under the weight of a downturn that began in late 2006. To help the company survive, YRC workers in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters agreed to a 10 percent pay cut and cost-of-living adjustment suspension through March 31, 2013. The changes took effect Jan. 8. In exchange, they got instruments similar to stock options for the equivalent of a 15 percent stake in YRC.

“We worked hard to draft a plan that holds the company accountable, requires equal sacrifice among all YRCW employees, gave us the ability to obtain stock in the company and placed restrictions on where the savings can be used, among other protections for our members,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a Jan. 8 release.

The stock instruments, received at a value of $3.34 each, vest at 25 percent a year, Zollars said. Holders have a 10-year window to exercise the options. YRC stock closed at $3.70 a share on Jan. 14.

The deal doesn’t affect the current number of common shares outstanding and doesn’t include board representation. A Teamsters spokesman said the union wouldn’t comment further because it is still working out details.

Zollars said the union now must determine how to distribute the options among a work force that fluctuates with the seasonality of the business.

Non-union employees also faced pay cuts and were offered options for the equivalent of a 7 percent stake.

“This gives people the chance to benefit as the company recovers,” Zollars said. “It’s been pretty well received.”

YRC’s leadership team and board took a 10 percent salary reduction and are not eligible for the option program.

“I think there’s always concern that maybe the top people are not sharing the pain as much, so we wanted to make sure that we shared more of the pain than the average employee,” Zollars said.

He says employee ownership will benefit YRC.

“It really aligns everybody around shareholder value, which is a great thing,” he said. “The pride of being an owner in the company can have a direct tie to performance.”

Michael Belzer, associate professor of economics at Wayne State University in Detroit, said he can’t recall a trucking company taking such a step in recent years.

“(YRC) is a really big company, and it has very specific problems, and they can be identified,” Belzer said. “It’s plausible that this might work because it might help them resolve the immediate debt overhang and use those pieces to put it back together. They can do it in a collaborative way when the union and the company are playing off the same page, which this does for them.”

But the question remains whether this is simply a stopgap measure as the company unwinds its business, he said.

Employees will have to guard against dilution of the stock should YRC try to get more capital, said Roland Zullo, a research scientist at the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy. And the premise that employees act like owners when they have a stake in the company can be overstated.

“Sometimes, there’s an initial euphoria over this type of transaction,” he said. “But as time moves on, you become a worker who happens to own some shares of stock in the company you work for.”

Judy Ancel, director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Institute for Labor Studies, said the pain of giving up pay often harms morale and the relationship between labor and management.

“This is a pretty drastic kind of arrangement when a company is in really deep trouble,” she said. “Generally speaking, workers would rather get a decent living than have an ownership stake.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Michigan truck driver takes center stage on Obama inaugural train

A truck driver from Taylor played a prominent role Saturday on president-elect Barack Obama's whistle stop train bound for Washington and his inauguration as the nation's 44th president.

Teamster Roy Gross and his girlfriend, Paula O'Rourke, were among 41 "everyday" Americans riding on a 137-mile train trip from Philadelphia to the capital.
The best moment so far for Gross came at a stop in Wilmington, Del., when Obama, speaking to a crowd, mentioned him by name.

"I wasn't expecting it," said Gross, who was standing near the president. "I burst into the biggest grin."

Obama said he would carry the stories of Gross and other everyday Americans with him into the White House.

Obama told the crowd, "Roy has watched as his friends have lost jobs, while the plants have shuttered their doors. He wants to see American industry build the cars of tomorrow and jobs that let working people leave their children a better life. We will carry his story with us to Washington."

Obama and his wife, Michelle, strolled through the train car in which the Michigan couple rode. Gross and the others sang "Happy Birthday" to Michelle Obama, who turned 45 Saturday.

Gross got two autographs from the president-elect, and one from Joe Biden, the vice president-elect.

The trucker will attend inaugural festivities through Tuesday, when Obama and Biden and are sworn in and host 10 inaugural balls. Among Gross' favorite souvenirs so far are the security credentials he has to wear. He also was thrilled to be part of a presidential motorcade that took Obama and his entourage to speak to a crowd in Baltimore.

"You don't want for red lights in a motorcade, that's for sure," said Gross, who munched on sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and pop for lunch on the train as he waved from the window to well-wishers who hoped to get a glimpse of Obama.