January 11, 2013 10:30 AM, EST
ABF, Teamsters Continue Negotiations on New Contract

The Teamsters union and ABF Freight System held negotiations in Kansas City, Mo., this week, and talks will continue into next week to reach a labor agreement between the two parties, the union said.

The current contract expires March 31 for the company’s 7,500 unionized drivers, dockworkers, mechanics and clerical staff. Leaders from local ABF unions unanimously approved the union’s contract proposals in late November, the Teamsters said.

ABF, the largest business unit of Arkansas Best Corp., is asking employees to accept concessions in wages and pension coverage to cut labor costs to a level comparable with less-than-truckload competitor YRC Worldwide, the Kansas City Business Journal reported.

The union said in December that ABF initially proposed reducing paid time off, creating more part-time positions, expanding the use of subcontractors as well as the use of surveillance and computer tracking devices, and replacing the current grievance procedures with arbitration, the Business Journal reported.

In ABF’s most recent statement on the negotiations, dated Dec. 21, the company said its proposals are not in line with the National Master Freight Agreement because that agreement, drafted in the 1960s, is outdated and is ignored by most of the company’s LTL competitors, the Business Journal said.

Arkansas Best is ranked No. 13 on the Transport Topics 100 listing of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.