November 1, 2010 4:30 PM, EDT
ABF Sues YRC Unit, Teamsters Union Over Master Freight Contract

ABF Freight System said it filed legal actions Monday against units of YRC Worldwide and the Teamsters union for what it said were violations of the National Master Freight Agreement collective bargaining agreement that covers most U.S. unionized trucking employees.

ABF filed a grievance under the NMFA and an accompanying lawsuit naming the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and several Teamster units and affiliates, and YRC Worldwide units YRC Inc., New Penn Motor Express and USF Holland.

“It is ABF’s firm belief that the three rounds of [worker pay] concessions granted to YRC — with the latest deal just ratified last week . . . are in violation of the NMFA that has been in effect since April 2008,” said Wesley Kemp, ABF’s CEO.

“The NMFA applies equally to every company that signed it and quite simply, with these three amendments, it does not do that,” he said in a statement. “We need a long-term, industry-wide solution that is fair to all NMFA parties.

YRC’s Teamsters rank-and-file members approved a new contract to run through the year 2015 that YRC said would save it $350 million a year and the union said would save up to 25,000 jobs, the two announced Saturday. (Click here for previous story.)

YRC and the union’s leadership said in late September they had agreed to extend a previous 15% pay cut for two more years, to partially restore pension contributions next year and to obtain a $300 million capital infusion from a new investor.

“We have the obligation to our employees, to our customers and to Arkansas Best shareholders to enforce our rights under the NMFA and compete on the same playing field with our industry peers,” ABF’s Kemp said in the company’s statement.

ABF Freight System is the less-than-truckload company and largest operating unit of Arkansas Best Corp.

Arkansas Best Corp, ranked No. 16 on the Transport Topics 100 listing of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers, is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday.