Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fate of Hours-of-Service Rules is Uncertain

The outcome of the recent court action involving two federal hours-of-service rules is expected soon.

On July 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit threw out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules allowing truck drivers to spend 11 hours behind the wheel and to restart their weekly clock after 34 hours rest.

FMCSA had put the 11-hour and 34-hour restart rules in place in 2003. The Teamsters, along with highway safety groups, challenged the new rules in court.

The old rules will take effect September 14, unless FMCSA receives a stay. Trucking employers made it clear they are pressuring FMCSA to ask for such a stay. Teamster lawyers anticipate that the agency will do so.

It’s unclear what the outcome of any potential legal action will be. The Teamsters will fight any attempt by FMCSA to restore the 11-hour rule and the 34-hour restart provision.

Friday, August 24, 2007

ABF Celebrates National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

ABF Freight System, Inc., is celebrating the 12th Annual National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, August 26 - September 1, 2007, with a system-wide campaign to highlight the long history of successful achievement by ABF employees.

"Our campaign recognizes the contributions of ABF professional drivers as well as all other ABF employees. It's a time when we thank ABF employees across North America for their individual and collective contributions to the continued success of our company," said ABF President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Davidson. "After all, ABF is far more than brick, mortar, and rolling capital -- it's 13,000 employees whose dedication to safety, cargo handling and customer service inspires confidence among customers throughout North America."

During the campaign, each ABF employee is sent a special letter of appreciation from Mr. Davidson and service centers host special events. ABF also recognizes outstanding performance by its employees, particularly professional drivers, throughout the year. Ongoing ABF training and incentive programs for professional drivers are designed to help truckers maintain the highest standards of professionalism and become ambassadors for promoting safety and increasing public appreciation for the trucking industry.

The annual campaign immediately follows the National Truck Driving Championships being held in Minneapolis. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) sponsors this safe-driving event. Drivers across the ABF system competed in state driving competitions, with 15 of those drivers taking first place and earning the right to compete in this year's national championships.

Trucking firms face lawsuit over fuel surcharges

Several big trucking companies, including YRC Worldwide Inc., are facing a federal lawsuit alleging that they colluded to fix shipping rates through fuel surcharges since 2003.

Farm Water Technological Services Inc. of Brawley, Calif., is seeking class-action status for a suit filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Southern California.

The suit names 11 of the biggest less-than-truckload carriers in the United States, including Overland Park-based YRC, the biggest U.S. trucking company.

YRC operates two big carriers, Yellow Transportation and Roadway Express. Other big carriers included in the suit are Arkansas Best Corp. and Con-Way Inc. Also named are UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp., both of which operate less-than-truckload units.

YRC did not respond to a request for comment. Another carrier dismissed the allegations as baseless.

“UPS Freight is prepared to vigorously defend itself against these allegations that we believe are without merit,” said Ira Rosenfeld, a company spokesman.

UPS Freight was known as Overnite Transportation Co. before being bought by UPS in 2005.

Farm Water Technological, which distributes irrigation and other farm equipment as Water Tech, makes its allegations against the carriers as a whole in the lawsuit.

Water Tech contends that the LTL trucking industry is highly consolidated and that cooperation among companies is greater than in other industries. When gas prices began to rise sharply in 2003, all the carriers imposed a fuel surcharge.

“Higher fuel costs in fact were merely the pretext and an opportunity for defendants to agree among themselves to impose collusive ‘fuel surcharges,’ ” the lawsuit states.

The suit also contends that trucking experts and the companies have acknowledged that higher fuel prices have led to greater profits.

Water Tech’s legal action is the latest in a transportation industry riven in recent months by antitrust pricing allegations.

An Arizona company filed a lawsuit in May alleging that the five biggest railroads, including Kansas City Southern, fixed rates through fuel surcharges. Last year the Justice Department began investigating alleged price fixing among air cargo companies.

While railroad customers have complained frequently to federal regulators about the lack of price competition among railroads, the issue has not been as prevalent among trucking customers.

According to a recent report in Traffic World, a survey found that 62 percent of trucking shippers said fuel surcharges were becoming more negotiable than in the past.

Diesel fuel prices also are down compared with this time last year. Furthermore, FedEx Freight reduced its fuel surcharge by 25 percent last month, citing customer complaints about it.

Water Tech is seeking damages three times the amount it and other trucking customers have incurred since July 30, 2003.

The other trucking companies named in the suit are Averitt Express, Jevic Transportation Inc. and its owner, Sun Capital Partners IV, New England Motor Freight Inc., Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., R+L Carriers Inc. and Saia Inc.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


YRC Regional Transportation, a subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc., announced today that all four of its providers – New Penn, USF Holland, USF Reddaway and USF Glen Moore – have earned Quest for Quality Awards for outstanding service in Logistics Management’s 24th annual readership survey. For the past 24 years, Logistics Management’s Quest for Quality has been regarded in the transportation and logistics industry as one of the most important measures of customer satisfaction and performance excellence and can be an important resource for shippers trying to differentiate among service providers.

The following summarizes the awards:

• Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region-Regional LTL: New Penn was recognized with its 14th consecutive Quest for Quality award for outstanding service. New Penn is a regional LTL carrier providing reliable next-day service for 77 years through a network of service centers located in the Northeastern United States, Quebec, Canada and Puerto Rico.

• Midwest/North Central Region-Regional LTL: USF Holland was recognized with its 22nd consecutive Quest for Quality award for outstanding service. USF Holland is a regional LTL carrier providing reliable, claim-free regional transportation for 78 years with premier service in the Midwest, Southeast and Canada.

• Western Region-Regional LTL: USF Reddaway was recognized with its 17th consecutive Quest for Quality award for outstanding service. USF Reddaway is a regional LTL carrier providing reliable next-day and two-day regional transportation for 88 years through a comprehensive service center network in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Texas, Alaska and Canada.

• Truckload-Dry Freight Carriers: USF Glen Moore was recognized with its first Quest for Quality award for outstanding service. USF Glen Moore is a leading regional and national truckload services company, providing the timely and reliable logistics solutions customers rely on to achieve their core business objectives.

To determine the best in the business, Logistics Management asks a representative sample of shippers to complete an online evaluation of the carriers they use. Carriers are measured in the areas of performance, value, information technology, customer service and equipment & operations. Results of the survey appear in the August 2007 issue of Logistics Management.

“I am very proud of all our employees at our regional transportation companies for helping us earn these honors again this year,” said Jim Staley, President and CEO of YRC Regional Transportation. “We have a long history of serving the regional markets, and we appreciate the continued acknowledgement from our customers of our ongoing commitment to meeting and exceeding their needs and expectations.”

Teamsters Call Iran a Bad Bet

Teamster boss James Hoffa is jumping into the Iran-divestment movement, urging the union’s pensions funds to shed all shares they own in companies doing business in Iran.

In a letter set to go out on Thursday to more than 170 fund managers, Hoffa cites the recent crackdown in Iran on top labor leaders and widespread allegations that Iran is arming and training insurgents in Iraq as reasons why fund managers should “give consideration to divesting” in Iran-related shares. The Teamsters’ pension funds amount to about $110 billion.

A number of states, including Florida, Missouri and California, have passed legislation to rid their public pension funds of shares in companies active in Iran. The Senate next month is expected to take up a bill, already passed by the House, to protect fund managers from shareholder lawsuits after they divest, and to force the government to provide a list of companies with investments over $20 million in Iran’s energy sector.

Some local unions, such as the AFL-CIO in Florida, have backed state divestment movements recently, but the Teamsters — with about 1.4 million members and 400,000 pensioners — are the first to take a stance at the national level. “I believe divesting investments in companies linked to Iran is not only the patriotic thing to do, but a wise investment strategy,” Hoffa writes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Union files objection after losing an organizing vote at UPS Freight Inc.

A group that lost a union-organizing vote at the local UPS Freight Inc. terminal has filed objections to the election, alleging improper employer conduct.

The company has denied any wrongdoing.

The Association of Parcel Workers of America filed its objections last week with the National Labor Relations Board, which conducted the election earlier this month and will investigate the allegations.

Among its objections, the association alleged that UPS Freight converted part-time employees into full-time workers, raising pay and benefits just before the election. The company also told part-time dock workers that it planned to boost the number of full-time positions in the future to influence the election’s outcome, according to the association.

UPS Freight has about 350 hourly dock workers and drivers at its Kansas City, Kan., terminal. The vote against joining the parcel workers association was 203-66.

“UPS Freight believes its employees spoke quite emphatically last week in a closed ballot on the question of third-party representation and certainly did so without any coercion by management,” said Ira Rosenfeld, a company spokesman. “If requested, UPS will file a response with the NLRB and vigorously defend any allegations of wrongdoing.”

Van Skillman, president of the parcel workers group, said he hoped another election would be held in the next six weeks. He also said the group planned to file an unfair-labor-practice complaint against UPS Freight.

Dan Hubbel, assistant director of the NLRB’s regional office, said an unfair-labor-practice complaint would be reviewed before the agency determined whether to file a charge.

This was the first election in which the parcel workers group tried to unionize UPS Freight workers, most of whom do not belong to a union. The Teamsters union represents 125 employees at a UPS Freight facility in Indianapolis.

UPS Freight formerly was Overnite Transportation Co., a trucking firm the Teamsters failed to organize through the 1990s.

Monday, August 20, 2007

YRC Worldwide CFO to Retire

Trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc. said on Monday its chief financial officer would retire and be replaced by a marketing and sales executive who helped YRC enter the Chinese trucking market.

Stephen Bruffett, 43, currently senior vice president of sales and marketing for YRC National Transportation, will replace Don Barger, 64, who is to retire as executive vice president and CFO on Sept. 1. Barger will assist in the transition as an advisor.

Bruffett joined the company in 1998; Barger had been CFO for six years.

Bill Zollars, YRC's chairman, president and chief executive, said Bruffett has been "instrumental" in developing the company's strategy in China.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

YRC Worldwide Enters Into New Revolving Credit Facility

Expands Asset-Backed Securitization Facility

- Extends Maturities
- Reduces Interest Rates
- Increases Liquidity

YRC Worldwide Inc. today announced that it has entered into a new revolving credit agreement, which replaces its prior revolving credit facility. YRC Worldwide also announced that it has expanded its asset-backed securitization facility.

These new and revised credit facilities implement the following significant changes to the company's prior facilities:

-- An increase in the size of the revolving credit facility from $850
million to $1.1 billion, of which $150 million is a term loan
-- An extension in the revolving credit facility maturity to 2012
-- A reduction of the revolving credit facility applicable interest rate
between 2.5 and 12.5 basis points
-- A more flexible revolving credit covenant package
-- An increase in the asset-backed securitization facility size from $650
million to $700 million

"This refinancing action creates additional operational flexibility, extends maturities and reduces interest rates," said Don Barger, executive vice president and chief financial officer.