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ABF, Teamsters remain at odds during contract talks

The Teamsters says it will fight ABF Freight System's attempts to harm ABF Teamsters’ livelihoods. (Courtesy: ABF Freight System)

The Trucker News Services

12/21/2012

FORT SMITH, Ark.  — After two days of labor contract negotiations, ABF Freight System Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters workers are nowhere close to a settlement.

ABF says it needs to “dramatically lower” labor costs and that without those cuts, it will have to close terminals and distribution centers and “job loss will certainly result.”

The Teamsters says it will fight “the company’s attempts to harm ABF Teamsters’ livelihoods, saying the carrier is proposing to “slash workers’ benefits and gut working conditions.”

ABF and Teamsters union leaders held opening negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday.

The current contract expires at midnight March 31, 2013.

The two sides won’t meet again until the week of Jan. 7, 2013.

in Kansas City, Mo., to consider terms for a new contract to replace the one that expires at midnight March 31. The two sides have adjourned until the week of Jan. 7, according to a Teamsters statement posted on its website.

ABF said ABF-Teamster employees are paid at the highest levels compared with their peers in the less-than-truckload industry.

ABF has paid $244 million in union pension, health and welfare costs, the statement said. More than half, $132 million, went to pension expenses alone.

The union said in the initial proposal, ABF wanted t

• Eliminate Supplemental Agreements and white-paper agreements

• Reduce paid time-off

• Eliminate the present grievance procedure that has been in effect for 50 years and replace it with arbitration

• Expand the use of subcontractors

• Expand the use of surveillance and computer-tracking devices, and

• Create part-time positions in most job classifications.

Beyond the initial statements, neither side would comment Thursday on this week’s talks.

ABF employs 7,500 drivers, dockworkers, mechanics and clerical staff, the union said.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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