YRC workers likely to accept concessions


The vote may be close, but YRC Worldwide Inc. drivers and dockworkers probably will accept the concessions they’re being asked to take.

That’s the general assessment of analysts and industry observers following last week’s tentative agreement between YRC and the Teamsters. Union leaders at YRC locations across the country approved the pact, which would reduce workers’ pay by an additional 5 percent while also allowing YRC to suspend monthly pension fund payments for 18 months. The hourly YRC work force accepted a 10 percent pay cut in January.

The latest proposal was mailed July 17 to YRC’s approximately 32,000 active workers for a vote. Ballots also can be cast by about 10,000 furloughed workers. Informational meetings are being offered at union locals, and the Teamsters plan to begin counting ballots Aug. 6.

In a conference call last week, Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa said YRC was in trouble because of the recession as well as the debt the company had taken on. But it would be up to the employees whether to accept more cuts.

“It will involve certain sacrifices that none of us like,” Hoffa said. “On the other hand, we are trying to keep the company alive until the economy comes back and this company starts to thrive again.”

The union initially resisted the additional 5 percent pay cut, said Tyson Johnson, Teamsters freight division director. But after financial analysis, it became evident that wages needed to be cut again as well as the pension payments suspended, he added.

“YRC is in an extreme cash-flow crisis, and cash flow means they need instant money,” Johnson said.

Of the 300 local union officials voting on the pact last week, only two voted against it, according to Johnson.

“Our union locals realize the crisis the company is in,” he said. “Again it was a hard decision, but the alternative is a lot tougher than what we face with this vote. But the vote will be determined by the rank-and-file membership.”
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