Three YRC Worldwide subsidiaries asked a federal court to toss out ABF Freight System's lawsuit challenging their latest pact with the Teamsters union.
In a motion filed Nov. 16, YRC, Holland and New Penn accused ABF of trying to scuttle their attempt to raise $300 million in new equity by Dec. 31, a condition of the latest concession package approved by their Teamsters employees.
The less-than-truckload carriers also said ABF is not party to their contract and has no right to sue the Teamsters or YRC for negotiating several rounds of concessions.
"YRC can find no decision of any court holding that an entity with no interest whatsoever in a labor contract can sue to enforce its terms," the company said.
ABF sued YRC and the union in October after YRC Teamsters approved a contract amendment extending deep wage and benefits cuts they approved last year.
The concessions, which include greatly reduced pension contributions, are projected to save YRC Worldwide more than $300 million a year through 2015.
But ABF claims the union and YRC violated the five-year National Master Freight Agreement by negotiating those concessions without ABF, and it wants the court to void the YRC-Teamster agreements and award it $750 million in damages.
Although ABF claims to be part of the 2008 NMFA, YRC says its rival is not.
ABF withdrew from the carrier bargaining unit in 2008 and signed a separate agreement that mirrors much of the NMFA negotiated on YRC's behalf.
"An employer executing a 'me too' agreement does not become a party to the underlying contract," YRC said, citing several previous court decisions.
YRC also pointed out that ABF negotiated a contract amendment with the Teamsters earlier this year that was rejected by its union employees in May.
"(ABF) did not seek YRC's permission to do so, did not negotiate on YRC's behalf and the resulting amendment … did not apply to YRC," the company said.
Its rival "apparently wants a 'heads I win/tails you lose' situation where it can negotiate deals with the union that benefit only it, but YRC cannot," YRC said.
One thing that's indisputable is that ABF now has much higher labor costs than YRC. ABF claims the Teamsters and YRC "tilted the playing field" in LTL shipping.
The company isn't angling for a settlement with the Teamsters that could lower its costs, ABF President and CEO Wesley Kemp said at a press conference Monday.
"Our intent is to go to court," Kemp told reporters. "We have one agreement and neither the Teamsters nor YRC had a right to do side agreements."
ABF said it wants a "level playing field" for NMFA carriers, but YRC said ABF "was unwilling to make the same kinds of sacrifices that YRC and its executives made."
"This lawsuit is not about one employer wanting the same lower labor costs that a competitor received," YRC said. "Rather, it is about (ABF) attempting to misuse the legal system to force YRC's labor costs to remain higher."
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.