ABF Freight System and the Teamsters union extended their current contract for a second 30-day period as the less-than-truckload carrier and union battle over wage and benefit cuts.
The union agreed to extend the current contract with ABF through May 31. The contract initially was set to expire March 31 and was extended through April 30 as both sides struggled in talks.
ABF, the third-largest unionized LTL carrier, is seeking a 6.5 percent across-the-board wage cut and significant changes to employee health care benefits, according to the Teamsters.
In a statement, Fort Smith, Ark.-based ABF said its goal is to return to profitability, “which will preserve jobs and retirement while still providing the best wage and benefits package in the industry.”
ABF said it wants “long-term viability with a contract that reflects how the rest of the industry operates. We can't continue with the contract that produced $250 million in losses since 2009.”
The Teamsters don't believe the contract is all to blame for those losses, which include a $19.4 million loss in 2012. The union slammed executive pay raises when talks began and asked for a wage increase.
Until this month, negotiations focused mainly on operational flexibility that could bring the $1.7 billion trucking company greater efficiency and savings, according to statements from the Teamsters.
The company's proposals “place our progress at risk,” said Gordon Sweeton, co-chairman of the Teamsters negotiating committee. Many items in the contract remain open, the union said.
“Our proposal will still provide (employees) the best compensation package in the industry, certainly better than any alternative position they could get at another freight company,” ABF said.
ABF is the sixth-largest LTL carrier and third-largest unionized carrier. Among the unionized companies, only YRC Freight and UPS Freight are larger.