Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ABF Hearing Set For Thursday

A federal judge on Thursday will decide whether Fort Smith-based ABF Freight System has standing to sue competing truckers and the Teamsters in U.S. District Court.

ABF on Nov. 1 filed a federal lawsuit alleging that subsidiaries of YRC Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters violated terms of a multi-employer labor contract by entering into side deals that the gave the YRC companies an improper competitive advantage over ABF.

ABF seeks court appointment of a neutral third-party tribunal to hear its grievances, or, alternatively, nullification of the side agreements plus damages of $750 million.
In response, the defendants filed motions seeking to dismiss the case, claiming the court lacks jurisdiction over the matter.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Eastern District courthouse in Little Rock, with U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright presiding.

According to court documents, ABF asserts that the Labor Management Relations Act allows the federal court to hear suits over labor contract violations.

However, the employer defendants - YRC Inc., New Penn Motor Express Inc. and USF Holland Inc. - argue that ABF is not a party to the National Master Freight Agreement and therefore lacks standing to challenge the contract amendments.

On Dec. 2, Wright stated in an order that she would determine both the question of ABF's standing and whether that question can be severed from ABF's claims.

In a separate order Dec. 3, the judge noted that neither Trucking Management Inc. nor the union defendants - the IBT, the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee, Teamsters Local Union 373 of Fort Smith and Local 878 of Little Rock - had requested hearings on their motions to dismiss.

She gave them until Monday to request to be heard. The union defendants made their request on Dec. 8 and TMI made its request Dec. 10.

The case was initially filed in the Western District's Fayetteville court in error, then transferred to Fort Smith. Wright was assigned the case after U.S. District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren, a Western District judge, recused himself.

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