Friday, December 14, 2007

YRC Worldwide, Teamsters reach tentative accord on new contract

YRC Worldwide Inc., the country’s biggest trucker, has reached tentative agreement with the Teamsters union on a contract, more than three months before the existing pact is to expire.

The union represents nearly 50,000 drivers and dock workers who work for several YRC subsidiaries, the biggest being Yellow Transportation and Roadway. YRC is based in Overland Park.

The Teamsters negotiated the five-year agreement with Trucking Management Inc., or TMI, the negotiating arm of the unionized trucking industry.

After ABF Freight System pulled out of TMI and the consolidation in recent years of unionized carriers, YRC subsidiaries are the only remaining members of TMI. They are Yellow Transportation, Roadway and USF Holland.

YRC and the Teamsters began negotiations in early October, and the company hoped that a new contract could be reached before March 31, when the existing agreement will expire.

With YRC struggling to maintain freight volume in a slowing economy that YRC chief Bill Zollars has characterized as recessionary in some sectors, analysts said the trucking company was eager to get a new deal quickly.

Many trucking customers sign contracts choosing their carriers before the end of the year. As revenue and profits continue to plummet, analysts said, YRC could ill afford to have freight diverted early next year as a strike deadline loomed.

“The early outcome of these negotiations is positive for our employees and positive for our customers,” said Mike Smid, president and chief executive of YRC North American Transportation. “With the major hurdle of the NMFA (national contract) behind us, we are now positioned to remain competitive in a very challenging industry environment.”

Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, said the new contract would protect the jobs and benefits of the union’s membership.

Tyson Johnson, head of the union’s freight division and lead negotiator, said the new agreement would improve grievance procedures for workers and addressed the issue of forced overtime, which had been regarded as a key concern of workers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Arkansas Best's vice president to retire

Arkansas Best Corporation has reported that vice president John Meyers will retire on January 31, 2008, concluding over 34 years with the company.

Robert Davidson, president and CEO of Arkansas Best, said: "I want to thank Bob for his many years of valuable service to our company. Since his arrival in the early 1970s, Bob has helped develop and positively influence many of the areas that have made Arkansas Best and ABF successful. More recently, his oversight of several of our non-ABF subsidiaries has been important to the overall development of our corporation."

Robert Young III, chairman of Arkansas Best, said: "During his time with Arkansas Best, Bob Meyers has always displayed a knack for providing fresh ideas and efficient management over his areas of responsibility."

Longer days for truckers may stick

U.S. long-haul truck drivers can continue to spend as much as 11 hours a day behind the wheel, after a federal agency refused to return to lower limits sought by safety advocates.

The U.S. Transportation Department, in an interim rule issued Tuesday, sided with the trucking industry and upheld a 2004 increase in daily driving time from 10 hours. The rule also keeps a 14-hour daily limit for drivers to be on duty.

"There have been a lot of allegations and innuendo" about greater safety risks since the longer workdays began, John Hill, the top U.S. trucking regulator, said Tuesday. "What the data show is that is untrue."

The rule is a win for the American Trucking Associations trade group, whose members include United Parcel Service and YRC Worldwide. Trucking companies said shorter workdays boost costs by requiring more drivers to move the same amount of freight, while consumer groups such as Public Citizen say drivers who work fewer hours are less likely to have accidents.

The new rule also permits drivers reaching 60 hours on-duty in seven days to return to work after 34 hours. Before 2004, they had to wait out the seven-day period.

Public Citizen will challenge the rule in court if the final version retains the longer hours, said Joan Claybrook, president of the organization. Regulators may publish the final rule next year, she said.

Bush Administration Weakens Truck Safety

Teamsters Say Regulators Co-Opted by Industry

The Teamsters union regrets the Bush administration’s decision Tuesday to side with the trucking industry rather than the driving public by reinstating a rule that undermines highway safety.

The hours-of-service rule, which allows truck drivers to work as many as 17 more hours a week, was twice thrown out by the court.

“The Bush administration is recklessly endangering the lives of all Americans driving on our highways,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Longer hours for truck drivers behind the wheel and unsafe Mexican trucks on our highways will jeopardize public safety.”

“It’s clear the Bush administration has more loyalty to its corporate supporters than to the men and women who actually drive on our roads,” Hoffa said. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in particular is showing that it is held captive by the trucking industry.”

On July 24, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the second time threw out the rule that increased driving time to 11 hours from 10 hours and required drivers to be off duty for only 34 hours before going back to work.

In the 39-page opinion, Judge Merrick Garland called the rule “arbitrary and capricious.”

Hoffa said the Teamsters do not believe there is evidence that the new rule is safer, and plenty of evidence to show that it is not.

“There has been no peer-reviewed study published that shows this rule is safer than the previous rule,” Hoffa said.

“Further, Congress ordered that the health of the driver be taken into consideration, which FMCSA has once again ignored,” Hoffa said.

In the first court decision, FMCSA was cited for failing to take into account the health of the driver.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first promulgated the hours-of-service regulation increasing the number of hours truckers can drive in 2003. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the rule in 2004, but Congress reinstated it as part of the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2004.

FMCSA issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in January 2005, proposing a rule that was little changed from the 2003 rule that had been struck down.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was a plaintiff in the case, joining Public Citizen and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The legal deadline for the court’s July decision to go into effect was Sept. 14. But legal challenges pushed that deadline back.