Thursday, October 04, 2007

Large ABX shareholder questioning Board

ABX Air’s second largest shareholder has “strongly” encouraged the company board of directors to negotiate with ASTAR Air Cargo, a business that indicated last summer it wanted to acquire ABX.

ABX rejected ASTAR’s overture in July when the seven-member ABX Air Board of Directors unanimously turned down an acquisition proposal by ASTAR as not being in the best interest of ABX stockholders.

Willem Mesdag, managing partner of Red Mountain Capital Partners LLC, recently wrote a letter to James H. Carey, ABX chairman of the board. Mesdag concludes his letter: “… we strongly encourage you to act in your shareholders’ interest by engaging in serious and constructive negotiations with Mr. Dasburg [ASTAR’s CEO] to consummate a transaction that maximizes shareholder value.”

In the first paragraph of Mesdag’s letter, he wrote, “Notwithstanding its [ABX Board of Directors] express statement to the contrary, we are not confident that the Board of ABX Air is committed to maximizing shareholder value.”

Mesdag’s questioning of the board’s commitment to maximize shareholder value is a significant statement. That’s because when it comes to purchase proposals, it is a board of directors’ fiduciary responsibility to assess what is going to offer the greatest return to the shareholders.

A copy of Mesdag’s Sept. 24 letter to the ABX board became public when it was filed this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Red Mountain Capital Partners owns 3,623,154 shares of common stock. That represents about 6.2 percent of the outstanding common stock of ABX Air, according to Red Mountain Capital Partners’ filing with the SEC.

In his letter, Mesdag asserts, “… a merger with ASTAR that would consolidate DHL’s air freighter fleet in the United States presents a unique opportunity to maximize value for ABX Air’s shareholders.”

ABX and ASTAR are the two primary air carriers for DHL Express in the United States. Both ABX and ASTAR have their operational hubs at the DHL Air Park near Wilmington.

Shipping industry giant DHL Express is part owner of ASTAR, and furthermore, DHL Express is ABX’s largest customer.

Mesdag wrote, “While we agree that the terms suggested by ASTAR [last summer] do not fully reflect the value of merger synergies and ABX Air’s expanded fleet of Boeing 767s, we believe that, in light of the significant value of such a transaction to DHL, good faith negotiations with ASTAR could result in an improved offer.”

A spokeswoman for ABX Air said Wednesday afternoon any comment to the media would need to be reviewed by the board’s seven members, and thus any official comment was unlikely by presstime.

On a related topic, a Sept. 19 press release by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said, “Two recent developments triggered concern that the takeover defenses of ABX Air may be detrimental to shareholder value. On July 24, ABX Air rejected an offer to acquire the outstanding shares of the company at a 10 percent premium to market value, without disclosing the fairness opinion of its financial advisors. On Aug. 10, ABX Air announced that it would restate earnings for 2006 and first quarter 2007.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 690 ABX Air flight crew members.

Office Workers at USF Reddaway Join Local 63

Clerks in California Break New Ground at Company

October 4, 2007

Office clerical workers at USF Reddaway in Compton, California are now Teamsters after the company recognized the workers through a card-check agreement, the latest victory in the union’s card-check campaign throughout the West.

The card-check agreement enabling this latest victory was included in a contract that was ratified in August by workers at Reddaway terminals in California, Arizona and New Mexico. The contract was ratified 216-13 and covers about 400 workers.

In the latest victory, the 11 clerical workers in Compton are now Teamsters and will be covered by the same contract that was ratified by the larger group of workers. The Compton workers joined Local 63 in Covina, California.

“These workers become the first unionized clerks at USF Reddaway, and we look forward to providing them with excellent representation,” said Randy Cammack, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 63.

The company recognized the clerks on September 27.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Unhealthy Hours-of-Service Rules to Stay in Effect

A court’s decision to let the current hours-of-service rules stand for just 90 more days supports the recommendations of safety groups determined to protect drivers and passengers alike on the nation’s highways.

Friday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is the latest twist in a long-running case in which Public Citizen, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and other groups are challenging the unsafe and unhealthy hours-of-service rule that the federal government first adopted in 2003.

The court struck down the 2003 regulation, then struck down a 2005 rule that mirrored the one the court had found untenable. That rule raised the consecutive driving limit from 10 hours to 11 hours and added a 34-hour restart provision that allows drivers to significantly increase both their weekly driving and on-duty hours. Studies show that fatigued drivers are more likely to crash. The last thing we need is more tired truckers on the roads.

When striking down the 2005 rule this past July, the court said that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) reliance on a new fatigue model without first providing notice and the opportunity for public comment was improper. The court also faulted the agency for the way it treated the risk increase associated with 11 straight hours of driving, as well as for failing to deal with the added cumulative fatigue the 34-hour restart rule would cause by allowing more hours of driving per week.

On Sept. 6, the American Trucking Associations asked the court to let the unsafe and unhealthy rules stay in effect for eight months to give the government time to rewrite them; FMCSA asked for a year. We opposed any delay but argued that if there was one, it should be no more than 90 days, which the court agreed with.

The agency should use the time to oversee the transition to pre-2003 driving limits rather than continuing to insist on an hours-of-service scheme that endangers truck drivers and motorists.

YRC Worldwide Provides Update on Recent Action With the Central States Plan

YRC Worldwide Inc. is providing the following update regarding the participation of several of its subsidiaries in the Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Plan (the Central States Plan).

United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) issued a press release on October 1, 2007 stating that UPS has reached a new tentative labor agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for unionized employees engaged in UPS' package business. UPS stated that in its new labor agreement with the Teamsters, UPS has agreed to withdraw from the Central States Plan and make a cash payment of $6.1 billion to the plan. UPS is a major participant in this multi-employer pension plan in addition to certain YRC Worldwide subsidiaries and over 3,000 other employers. This new labor agreement would be effective upon the affected UPS Teamster employees ratifying the agreement.

YRC Worldwide believes that the funded percentage of the Central States Plan is currently approximately 50%. If the new UPS labor agreement is ratified and UPS makes its contractually agreed withdrawal payment to the Central States Plan, YRC Worldwide believes that the funded percentage of the Central States Plan would be approximately 70%.

"Due to the likely improvement in the funded status of the Central States Plan, coupled with prudent actions that plan trustees have previously taken and the implementation of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, our overall risk associated with contingent pension obligations is reduced," stated Bill Zollars, Chairman, President and CEO of YRC Worldwide.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Burger: Teamsters Leading the Way for Working People

Following is a statement from Anna Burger, Chair of Change to Win, on the Teamsters Agreement with United Parcel Service.

“On behalf of the Change to Win unions, I want to congratulate the Teamsters Union and its more than 200,000 members at United Parcel Service (UPS) on the negotiation of a new tentative master agreement with UPS and its historic agreement with UPS Freight in Indianapolis, a unit of the former Overnite.

“In an era of all out assault on working people's wages, health and pension benefits, the members will receive dramatic increases in wages, health and pension benefit contributions.

“At the same time, the Teamsters were able to negotiate an historic neutrality and card check agreement covering the 15,000 drivers at UPS Freight pending approval of the national UPS agreement. UPS Freight, formerly Overnite has been a nonunion target of the IBT and all labor for decades. This agreement is a victory for all working people.

“Change to Win is proud of the Teamsters union. Through its unity, the Teamsters have once again led the way for working people.”

Teamsters, UPS Reach Tentative Agreement at UPS Freight in Indianapolis

The Teamsters Union and UPS Freight (formerly Overnite Transportation) reached a tentative agreement for their first contract ever, an agreement that will improve wages and benefits and will serve as a national model to organize thousands of other company employees nationwide, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced today.

The contract, which covers 125 drivers and dockworkers in Indianapolis, will also provide employees the protections of a grievance procedure to fight unfair management decisions, something workers have fought hard to achieve.

"For more than five decades, the workers at UPS Freight and its predecessor, Overnite Transportation, have fought for Teamster representation," Hoffa said. "Today is historic because an agreement has been reached for a contract that will finally give workers a strong say on the job and the protections our other freight members have. A half-century battle is coming to an end, and we have gained strong momentum to organize throughout the freight industry, and FedEx Freight is next."

The workers, who are members of Local 135 in Indianapolis, expressed relief about the tentative contract.

"I hope our coworkers at UPS Freight across the country will join us by forming a union with the Teamsters," said Jesse Nicholson, a road driver and 20-year employee. "Being a Teamster means protections, support and being part of an organization that fights for you."

"Now our protections and rights will be spelled out and guaranteed in a Teamster contract," said Neal Hylton, a hostler and 21-year employee.

"Having an agreement is a big relief," said Dave Osborn, a city driver and 24-year employee. "We've wanted it for so long and worked so hard to achieve it."