Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Transportation jobs rebound

Transportation job postings have jumped 73% from a year ago, the biggest performer of 12 industries tracked by

The online job search engine said 20,000 new transportation jobs have been posted since April alone. The most sought after transportation positions are for driver, receiver/stocker and delivery driver, based on clicks by job seekers, said.

Hospitality saw job postings rise 47% over last year and retail jobs increased 41%. Full Story......

Trucking industry concerned about new safety rules

A proposed federal rule change intended to cull unsafe truck drivers from trucking companies has mixed support from the trucking industry and the two publicly held trucking companies based in the Fort Smith area.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation — began in April to phase in the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) with the goal of “reducing large truck and bus crashes, injuries and fatalities on our nation’s highways.” The effort, which began in May 2005, will use a new safety measurement system to monitor the more than 500,000 active commercial motor carriers — trucking companies, bus companies, etc. — and the about 7 million commercial drivers in the U.S.

Anne Ferro, administrator for FMCSA, said in June 23 testimony before Congress that the new system would “raise the bar” for companies and drivers wanting to enter the trucking sector by measuring seven safety categories. The existing system uses four broad measures. Full Story......

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

YRC must repay $21.6M

A federal court has dealt YRC Worldwide Inc. a setback in its attempt to avoid making more than $21 million in debt payments next month.

In April, the Overland Park, Kan.-based trucking company asked for summary judgment against Deutsche Bank Trust Co.

Deutsche Bank is acting as trustee for bondholders that did not participate in last year’s debt-for-equity exchange, announced Dec. 31, which eliminated about a third of YRC’s total debt and gave bondholders a majority share of the company. YRC had said a bankruptcy filing was possible if the debt-for-equity swap didn’t succeed.

The bank claims that obligations for those bonds still are coming due Aug. 9, but YRC says the swap relieved it of those requirements.

In a securities filing Tuesday, YRC said the U.S. District Court for Kansas sided with the bank, saying the company could not eliminate its obligations without approval from those bondholders. The company said about $21.6 million in notes are outstanding.

YRC said it was considering its options, including appealing the decision. If it doesn’t, the company said it could make the debt payments with money raised through a $70 million private debt placement it agreed to in February.

The company said that it still is waiting for the debt placement to go through and that if it doesn’t receive the financing, it would have to use existing cash or seek additional third-party financing, which would require approval from its lenders.
“The company cannot assure you that it will have sufficient cash or that its senior lenders will grant their consent or whether the terms of any other financing will be favorable to the company or its stakeholders or that such financing can be obtained prior to Aug. 9,” YRC said in the filing.

Teamsters vow to push YRC to resume pension contributions

As it tries to restructure and avoid bankruptcy, YRC Worldwide Inc. has avoided making pension contributions for more than a year now.

That will change come January, union officials assured its YRC work force last week.

Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, and Tyson Johnson, the union’s national freight director, made that pledge in a conference call with the trucking company’s union members.

“We’re going to make sure we hold their feet to the fire so they start the payments in some fashion, and that is our goal,” Hoffa said.

In addition to accepting wage cuts of 15 percent, YRC’s drivers and dock workers also agreed to allow the struggling trucking company to suspend pension contributions from July 2009 to December 2010. YRC also deferred pension payments of more than $155 million from earlier in 2009 that would come due next year.

YRC and the Teamsters formed committees to explore the pension issues, and talks began recently.

Another hopeful development on resolving the pension issue occurred when Teresa Ghilarducci joined the YRC board. Ghilarducci, the Teamsters-appointed director, is a labor economist and pension expert.

YRC and the union also are engaged in lobbying Congress to change laws that govern multiemployer pension plans.

YRC chairman and chief executive Bill Zollars has often complained that 40 percent of its contribution to plans such as the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Plan go to fund the benefits of retirees who have never worked for YRC. Employees of failed firms remain in the plan, forcing companies still operating to fund their benefits.

Union officials hinted that YRC probably won’t make the same level of contributions next year that it did before the suspension.

“The main issue is that we bring YRC back into our plans at some contributory rates,” Johnson said. “We don’t know what things will be like toward the end of the year.”

YRC’s re-entering the pension funds at a lower rate would require a rules change at the Central States and most other funds, according to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a group that often criticizes the union’s national leadership.

“More fundamentally it raises questions about the future for YRC Teamsters, and sets a possible precedent for other employers eager to downsize or eliminate workers’ pensions,” the group said on its website.

Analysts again are predicting that YRC would shut down if required to make pension contributions, Hoffa said.

“We don’t think so,” he said.