Teamsters, ABF Contracts Far From Settled

On Wednesday, Teamsters and ABF, of Kansas City,  exchanged contract proposals.  After two days of negotiations, a resolution could not be reached.

ABF posted a press release on Wednesday stating, “The company’s goal is to secure a new contract that allows ABF to substantially lower its costs, become more flexible and better compete in a rapidly changing marketplace that has seen hundreds of union carriers go out of business and non-union carriers proliferate. For the first time, ABF is negotiating for its own national contract, creating an unprecedented opportunity for both parties to work together and fix the labor cost problems that have led to $230 million in losses since 2009.”

Teamsters responded to ABF’s claims by stating “The company is misguided when it blames labor costs primarily for its losses,” Gordon Sweeton, Co-Chairman of the National ABF Negotiating Committee for TNFINC, said.

“The poor state of the economy over the past four years cre- ated losses at all large LTL companies and the labor-intensive type of freight opera- tions ABF conducts are issues as well. As for pensions, the company’s pension costs in its largest fund, Central States, have been frozen for the last two years with health and welfare costs only seeing mod- est increases during that time as well.”

“The union will fight the company’s attempts to harm ABF Teamsters’ livelihoods. In its initial contract proposals, ABF is propos- ing to slash workers’ benefits and gut working conditions,” the newsletter states.

ABF says that its union employees receive  “the highest levels of pay relative to all of their peers in the LTL industry in total compensation including wages, health and welfare, and pension. Last year alone, ABF paid $244 million in just union pension, health & welfare. More than half of that huge amount, $132 million went to union pension expense alone.”

Additionally, ABF states that its number of union employees has increased 160% since 1999.

According to the Teamsters newsletter, ABF intends to:

  • Eliminate Supplemental Agreements and white-paper agreements
  • Reduce paid time-off
  • Eliminate the present grievance proce- dure that has been in effect for 50 years and replace it with arbitration
  • Expand the use of subcontractors
  • Expand the use of surveillance and computer-tracking devices, and
  • Create part-time positions in most job classifications.

The current contract expires on March 31, 2013 at midnight.  ABF and Teamsters are scheduled to meet again January 7.

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