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March 5, 2013 4:15 PM, EST
ABF, Teamsters Talks May Extend Beyond March 31

ABF Freight System and the Teamsters union both reported progress on their labor talks held last week in advance of the March 31 conclusion of their existing contract, and the company said talks could continue beyond the end of the current labor pact.

Talks adjourned after being held in Kansas City, Mo., last week and are scheduled to resume next week, ABF parent company Arkansas Best Corp. said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Monday.

Based on the progress made so far, “ABF expects that good-faith negotiations could, if necessary, continue — as required by federal labor law — beyond March 31, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires,” the less-than-truckload carrier said.

Such an extension would be possible “as long as the two sides continue to make progress at the negotiating table,”  ABF said, adding that current agreement would remain in place should the talks extend.

“We think it is a step in the right direction that the company has agreed to bargain from the existing contract,” Gordon Sweeton, the Teamsters’ ABF national negotiating committee co-chairman, said in a statement, adding that the parties had reached tentative agreement on various noncontroversial items.

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