Trucking and Labor

Trucking and Labor

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

John Schulz''s article in the Oct. 27 issue ("Trucking''s Post-Union Era?") is a misleading and inaccurate portrayal of the future of unionized transportation service providers.

Mr. Schulz relies largely on unnamed sources and unsubstantiated generalizations to paint an unflattering picture of unionized carriers. However, when you look at the financial performance of the three largest unionized companies (Arkansas Best, Roadway Express and Yellow Transportation) over the first nine months of 2003, a much different picture than Schulz''s doom-and-gloom scenario emerges.

The fact is that unionized companies are going head-to-head with nonunion competition these days. And from a revenue and operating income growth standpoint, the three largest union companies outperformed major nonunion competitors over the first three quarters of 2003.

Aggregate revenue growth for ABF, Roadway and Yellow was 14 percent over that time period compared with the previous year. For the same period, aggregate revenue growth at Con-Way, FedEx Freight and SCS Transportation, three major nonunion companies, was 8 percent. Operating income (excluding unusual items) for the same period grew by an aggregate 87 percent at the Big Three unionized companies, compared with 22 percent for the nonunion companies.

Not bad for companies that reportedly can''t compete in today''s deregulated environment.

I also take issue with the suggestion that unionized companies won''t be able to survive in the long term.

The company I know best, Yellow Transportation, provides a great example of what a well-managed, strategically focused company can accomplish.

Over the last five years, Yellow Transportation has steadily upgraded our transportation network while increasing the efficiency with which we handle shipments. The percentage of lanes in which Yellow provides two-day service has increased from 10 percent in 1999 to 35 percent today. Exact Express(tm), our time-definite, guaranteed, premium service, also has grown at a double-digit rate.

All of these factors clearly illustrate the reality of Yellow as a company that is progressive, aggressive and able to meet multiple customer needs.

In short, Yellow has demonstrated that we are a formidable competitor. Even when the economy is less than robust, we have generated solid financial results and have created significant shareholder value. A major reason for our success will continue to be our professional unionized workforce, which provides the advantages of low turnover, superior job knowledge, responsive customer service and safe operation.

It was disappointing that Schulz didn''t contact anyone at Yellow to comment on this article, and that he did not talk with representatives of the Teamsters union. Had we been contacted, we certainly could have provided a different and more balanced point of view.

This type of journalism is a disservice to our industry. And it certainly is not up to the standards of unbiased, objective reporting that your readers deserve.

William D. Zollars

Chairman, President & CEO

Yellow Corp.