Friday, January 05, 2007

More jobs on tap for Roadway

An expected change in operations at Roadway Express Inc. will add nearly 90 jobs at its Kansas City, Kan., terminal this spring.

Roadway, a subsidiary of Overland Park-based YRC Worldwide Inc., has reached a tentative agreement with the Teamsters union to restructure its network, a union official said.

Harold McLaughlin, president of Teamsters Local 41, said the agreement should be considered by the Teamsters national union later this month. If approved, it will add dockworker and driver positions at Roadway’s Kansas City, Kan., terminal as well as other terminals around the country. Some terminals will lose positions with the changes.

“Naturally, we’re going to be one of the gaining terminals, so we don’t have a dispute with it,” McLaughlin said. “It should result in 80-some additional jobs.”

A Roadway representative could not be reached for comment.

According to a document posted on a union reform group’s Web site, the Roadway changes will add 44 dock and terminal jobs and 43 driving positions in Kansas City, Kan. Other Roadway terminals that will gain jobs include one in Springfield, Mo., which will add more than 60 workers.

Roadway’s St. Louis terminal, however, will lose 17 jobs under the change, according to the document.

According to the document, the changes are intended to improve efficiencies in moving freight and reducing transit times for drivers. If approved, the changes will take effect in mid-March.

McLaughlin said the new local jobs will be filled by some people who transfer from other terminals. Other jobs will be filled by Local 41 members, he said.

Roadway is a less-than-truckload carrier, meaning its trailers carry freight for more than one customer. Roadway’s Kansas City, Kan., terminal currently has about 350 employees, McLaughlin said.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

ABF Expands Next-Day and Second-Day Service Network

ABF Freight System, Inc., has expanded its regional transportation network to include the Central and Southern United States. The move brings increased next-day and second-day service to two-thirds of the company's North American service centers.

Called the Regional Performance Model, or RPM, the network features enhanced flexibility and operational efficiency for short-haul freight transportation. RPM operational procedures enable ABF to operate national long-haul and regional short-haul networks in parallel, boosting the reliability of both networks.

"The enthusiastic feedback we've received confirms shippers are searching for a carrier offering reliability and convenience for all of their shipments. Customers benefit from rapid, reliable regional service in addition to the flexibility, supply chain visibility, careful cargo handling and attentive customer service they've come to expect from ABF," said ABF President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Davidson.

"With this expansion, we will continue to simultaneously operate regional and long-haul networks," Davidson continued. "While the separate over-the-road networks will be invisible to customers, ABF customers will benefit from common pickup, delivery, sales and customer service capabilities along with the convenience of one carrier seamlessly handling regional, inter-regional and long-haul freight."

Truck tonnage drops 9 percent

In a potentially worrisome sign for the U.S. economy, domestic trucking shipments dipped by almost 9 percent in November, marking the largest year-over-year decrease in almost six years, the industry's largest trade association said.
The American Trucking Associations said in a monthly report released late Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index stands at its lowest level since late 2003, following an 8.8 percent decline vs. the same month a year ago. The index fell 3.6 percent from the prior month.

Because more than two-thirds of all manufactured and retail goods in the U.S. are carried by truck, the industry is considered an important economic bellwether.
"Both the month-to-month and year-over-year decreases indicate that the economic slowdown is in full gear," Bob Costello, the association's chief economist, said in a statement. "One month certainly doesn't make a trend, but if we continue to see year-over-year reductions of similar magnitudes in the next couple of months, it could indicate a greater economic slowdown than economists are projecting at this point."

Costello cautioned that year-over-year comparisons might be skewed by the "robust volumes" the industry saw in the same period a year ago.

The Alexandria, Va.-based trucking group said its tonnage index stood at 106.8 in November. The index, which stood at 100 in 2000, measures the weight of freight hauled by U.S. truckers, based on surveys from its membership.

Trucking companies have seen their fuel costs surge in the past few years, though they have been able to pass costs on to customers.

On the Nasdaq Stock Market, shares of JB Hunt Transport Services declined 13 cents to $21.05, near the middle of its 52- week trading range. Shares of Swift Transportation Company Inc. fell 15 cents to $26.56, also in the middle of its 52-week trading range.

On the New York Stock Ex change, shares of YRC Worldwide Inc. -- the company created by the merger of Yellow and Roadway -- gained 27 cents to $38.38, near the lower end of its 52-week trading range.

New clean-up method eyed 16 years after spill

PCE seen as threat to water near Kirkwood, Conklin wells

A company taking responsibility for a hazardous spill at the Kirkwood Industrial Park is testing a new approach to cleaning it, almost 16 years after it happened.

YRC Worldwide Enterprise Services is evaluating the effectiveness of using bacteria to break down pollution in the ground after approximately 100 gallons of cleaning solvent spilled in 1991 at a loading dock at 97 Industrial Park Road in the Town of Kirkwood.

Plans, filed with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, also call for collecting air samples from inside a trucking terminal at the site to see if chemical vapors are seeping into the building from the subterranean pollution.

A plume of the chemical, tetrachloroethylene, threatens an aquifer that feeds nearby municipal wells, despite attempts to clean it over the years. Since the spill, crews have removed 120 tons of contaminated dirt, installed wells to track the underground movement of the chemicals, and built a large vacuum system to extract chemical vapors from the ground.

An investigation overseen by the DEC in 2000 found the chemical, also known as PCE, at 1,500 parts per billion in the groundwater 20 feet below where it was spilled near the south end of the industrial park. The federal and state clean-up standard for PCE pollution is 5 parts per billion.

The pollution crept 100 feet south of the property line, according to DEC records. It is less concentrated -- 100 parts per billion or less -- further away from the spill site.

The pollution, which is known to cause cancer in people who are exposed to it, is well underground, according to DEC reports. But it is classified as Class II on the state's registry of hazardous waste sites, which means it "poses an immediate threat to public health or the environment."

One reason for the classification is that it is near underground water supplies that feed public wells in Kirkwood and Conklin. So far, the pollution has not shown up in the wells, although there is concern that it could if it is not addressed.

Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the DEC, said it has taken time to figure out the long-range cleanup plan and who would pay for it. The DEC is in the process of issuing a consent order to YRC to get the job finished, she said late last week. The consent order is both a mandate and a blueprint on what has to be done.

YRC representatives could not be reached for comment.