ABF Freight System's withdrawal from an industry bargaining group in 2007 undermined its lawsuit against rival trucker YRC and the Teamsters union.
In dismissing the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Thursday said ABF failed to prove that it and YRC were covered by the same contract.
That meant ABF had no grounds to sue YRC and the Teamsters over contract concessions projected to save YRC more than $1 billion through 2015.
"They were separate bargaining units, separate bargains, separate contracts," Wright said in the courtroom, according to the Times Record of Fort Smith, Ark.
The judge issued her decision from the bench in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas and is expected to issue a written order.
Until 2007, ABF belonged to Trucking Management, the industry bargaining unit that negotiated the National Master Freight Agreement with the Teamsters union.
It broke with TMI to pursue its own contract, but signed an interim contract or "me-too" agreement with terms that were essentially identical to the NMFA in 2008.
ABF argued that "me-too" agreement, on its approval, made it a signatory to the NMFA, a claim the Teamsters union and YRC Worldwide denied.
The Arkansas Best subsidiary claimed YRC's concession agreements with the union created an uneven playing field and as "side agreements" violated the NMFA.
But Wright rejected those arguments. "ABF failed to establish that it was in fact a signatory to the contract," Wright said, according to the Times Record.
ABF, the fifth largest LTL trucker in the U.S., said it is considering an appeal.
"We are disappointed in this outcome and continue to believe that our lawsuit is strong," the company said on its abflegalaction.com Web site.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.