Judge tosses ABF claim against Teamsters, YRC
Judge Susan Weber Wright on Aug. 1 ruled, among other things, that ABF had not exhausted the grievance procedures afforded under labor law.
The Trucker Staff
FORT SMITH, Ark. — A federal court in Arkansas has dismissed for the second time a November 2010 claim by ABF Freight System Inc. against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and less-than-truckload competitor YRC Worldwide.
ABF contended that several rounds of union wage and benefit reductions had provided a restructuring YRC with an unfair advantage, and that modifications to the National Master Freight Agreement should include any company that is party to it — or the changes should be declared null and void.
Union leadership had previously endorsed ABF’s call for similar concessions comparable to those granted YRC, citing the financial difficulties at ABF brought on by the recession. Rank-and-file Teamsters working for the Fort Smith-based carrier rejected the deal, however, prompting the court action.
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ABF also sought $750 million in financial damages.
Judge Susan Weber Wright on Aug. 1 ruled, among other things, that ABF had not exhausted the grievance procedures afforded under labor law. Wright had dismissed the case in 2010 on the grounds that ABF did not have legal standing to pursue the matter, but that dismissal was later reversed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
ABF is studying the ruling and evaluating its options which include, among other avenues, taking a second appeal to the Eighth Circuit or refiling the case in the District Court, the company said in a statement.
YRC, meanwhile, said it is “satisfied” with the court's decision and believes the court ruled correctly and in accordance with the language of the collective bargaining agreement.
“The resolution of this lawsuit is in keeping with YRCW's committed effort to vigorously defend itself against these alleged claims by the plaintiff,” the company’s statement said. “YRC Worldwide has and will continue to protect and defend its reputation, as well as its services and brands.”
At press deadline for this issue of The Trucker, a Teamsters spokesman said the union was not prepared to comment on the ruling.
Also of note, the Teamsters current contract with ABF expires in March.
The Teamsters represent 25,000 workers at YRC, and 7,000 workers at ABF.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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