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ABF Freight union ratifies new national contract

Voter turnout was strong, with more than 6,100 ballots cast and counted.

The Trucker News Services

6/28/2013

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Arkansas Best Corp. late Thursday said that its ABF Freight System Inc. employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have ratified ABF’s national collective bargaining agreement for the next five years.

The company called the agreement “a critical step in helping return ABF to its historic profitability.”

The Teamsters said in a news release that 21 of the 27 supplements were approved.

Some local/area supplemental agreements, however, were rejected and issues in those areas must be addressed before the national agreement can be implemented, the union said.

Arkansas Best said those supplements cover local work rules and do not affect the major economic terms that are covered by the now-ratified national agreement.

Voter turnout was strong, with more than 6,100 ballots cast and counted.

“We are very pleased that our Teamster employees have ratified the ABF NMFA, which is a critical step to putting ABF back on the path to profitability while still preserving the best-paying jobs and benefits in the industry,” ABF Freight System President and Chief Executive Officer Roy Slagle said. “We know this was a difficult decision for our union workforce, following many sacrifices made in recent years by our non-union employees, and we look forward to resolving the remaining supplements in the near term.”

Gordon Sweeton, co-chairman of the National ABF Negotiating Committee, said the union understands the “sacrifices our ABF members are making. We will work on obtaining approval of those supplements that were not approved.”

“The Teamster negotiating committees responsible for the supplements that were not approved by a majority of voting members will be talking with the members in those areas, the union said. In the meantime, the Teamsters Union will schedule meetings to engage the company in further negotiations to achieve our members’ objectives.”

“Once ratified, the national contract will protect our members’ health, welfare and pension benefits and will also give the company the ability to compete in a very tough trucking environment, which is good for ABF and the long-term job security of our members,” Sweeton said.

The contract calls for a 7 percent wage reduction, but the reduction will be entirely recouped by the fifth year of the five-year contract.

Judy R. McReynolds, Arkansas Best President and Chief Executive Officer, added that the new contract at ABF, once concluded, “is just one of many corporate initiatives under way to deliver superior value to customers and shareholders through an expanding array of logistics and transportation solutions.”

“As we near the end of this contract negotiation process, we are looking forward not only to a more efficient, profitable ABF but also to continued strong contributions from our non-asset-based, emerging businesses,” McReynolds said. “With the addition of premium logistics provider Panther Expedited Services a year ago and continued investments in technology and people, our emerging businesses are all poised for additional revenue growth and greater cross-selling opportunities both within our existing ABF customer base and throughout the broader transportation marketplace.”

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

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