April 18, 2016 11:45 AM, EDT

Car-Haul Contract Talks Still Unresolved, Will Resume Next Week

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

The protracted car-haul negotiations continue to drag on, with more talks scheduled next week, after two more days of talks last week failed to produce a tentative agreement.

The April 25 date for the next round of negotiations was announced by the union, which represents about 6,000 workers at two of the nation’s largest truckers, Jack Cooper Holdings and Cassens Transport, as well as smaller companies. Talks have been continuing for more than 10 months, without an agreement as workers remain on the job even though their four year contract expired Aug. 31.

The union’s statement said its bargainers and the National Automobile Transporters Labor Division “representatives have largely resolved most operational issues but are still negotiating over the hard-fought benefits our members have earned and deserve.”

The next round of meetings will “try to resolve the few but serious economic issues that remain in an effort to complete these long and difficult negotiations,” the statement said.

Neither James Osmer, chief negotiator for the companies, nor Kevin Moore, who heads the Teamsters National Automobile Industry Negotiating Committee, returned TT’s calls requesting additional comment.

Bargaining resumed early in January after a hiatus that followed the rank and file’s resounding defeat of a four year proposal that was agreed to by negotiators last year. Nearly 85% of voters rejected the contract proposal, which was announced during a year when U.S. auto sales were the highest ever, reaching nearly 17.5 million vehicles.

The deal that was rejected would have provided wage increases of about 2%, based on documents posted on the union’s Web site.

Jack Cooper is No. 43 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers and is the largest carhaul carrier. Non-union United Road is the second-largest hauler of new vehicles. No. 74 Cassens is the third-largest in the industry segment.

About two-thirds of the trucking industry’s car-haul segment is nonunion. Union ranks have been thinned by about one-third in the past several years as business shifted to nonunion fleets and the rail industry, whose shipments of new vehicles from factories topped 1 million railcars last year.

The industry has consolidated in recent years, including the acquisition by Jack Cooper of Allied Systems Holdings in 2011 during a bankruptcy proceeding and the shutdown of Performance Transportation Services during a strike five years earlier.