October 30, 2013 5:30 PM, EDT

ABF Teamsters Accept Contract After Strike Authorization Vote Fails

Tom Biery/Trans Pixs

The Teamsters union said its committee for negotiating the contract with ABF Freight System Inc. voted to accept the carrier’s offer for the last remaining provision in the contract after Central Region workers voted against authorizing a strike.

After the vote was announced Oct. 29, members of the master negotiating committee for the five-year contract met by phone to accept what ABF said was its “last and final offer” on the Central Region Cartage supplement, the Teamsters said in an Oct. 30 statement.

The Central Region Cartage supplement was the last of the agreements that the less-than-truckload carrier and the Teamsters could not agree on after a June union vote on the contract, ABF said in an Oct. 29 statement. The new contract will be implemented in the next few days.

The strike authorization vote and negotiating committee votes are required under the Teamsters’ constitution, it said.

The five-year contract includes a 7% wage reduction. Since it cannot take effect until all side agreements are approved, the previous contract had been extended one month at a time since June.

In the strike authorization vote, 77% of eligible employees participated, and 70% of them voted against the strike.

“We have now arrived at a point where, simply put, there is nothing left to negotiate with this employer and no desire for a strike in the Central Region based on the vote we received yesterday from the affected membership,” Gordon Sweeton, co-chairman of the Teamsters negotiating committee, said in the statement. “The responsible course of action is to finalize the agreement.”

ABF parent company Arkansas Best Corp. is ranked No. 12 on the Transport Topics Top 100 listing of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.