ABF, Teamsters Enter Concession Talks

ABF, Teamsters Enter Concession Talks

ABF Freight System agreed to an independent review of its finances as it seeks concessions from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The less-than-truckload carrier and the union began talks last week over concessions ABF Freight says are needed to help it compete and survive.

The union said April 9 the carrier agreed to its demand for an independent financial advisor to verify the company's financial needs.

"Our paramount duty in these negotiations is to protect the jobs and benefits of the 7,000 Teamsters at ABF," Tyson Johnson, co-chairman of the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee said in an April 6 memo to ABF Local Unions.

Negotiations over the company's request for "economic relief" began April 8.

"We heard from our members and local union leaders, and they made it clear that they support negotiations," Johnson said.

After resisting formal negotiations over months of informal "dialogue" with ABF, the union last month decided to clear the table for discussions. ABF lost nearly $100 million last year and faces intense competition from nonunion and union trucking companies.

Teamster wage and benefit concessions helped unionized rival YRC Worldwide survive last year but dropped wage levels 15 percent lower than ABF wages.

"We now believe it is in our best long-term interest to fully engage ABF through formal discussions to determine if and what type of contractual relief may be necessary," the Teamsters union said in a March 12 notice to ABF's Teamsters employees.

Negotiations were set to resume Monday.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.