NASHVILLE — Yellow Corporation executives say that a strike by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) would violate the parties’ collective bargaining agreement.
The Central States Pension Fund’s Board of Trustees voted on Monday, July 17, to suspend health care benefits and cease pension accruals for Yellow workers after two Yellow operating companies, Holland and Yellow Freight, failed to fulfill their financial obligations.
Teamsters are preparing for a possible strike as early as July 24, according to a news release.
Benefit suspensions will go into effect July 23 if the company fails to make the critical payment to the Central States Health and Welfare Fund and the Central States Pension Fund for June 2023.
“The Union’s breaches of the collective bargaining agreement, which are detailed in the complaint Yellow filed in its District of Kansas lawsuit against the Teamsters, are the direct cause of Yellow’s inability to make contributions to the funds,” according to a statement from Yellow.
In June, Yellow officials say they wrote to the funds, requesting a short-term deferral of its obligation to pay contributions for two months, July and August, with interest.
“This request is not without precedent,” according to the statement. “Regrettably, the Board of Trustees of Central States refused Yellow’s request, despite the funds’ healthy reserves.”
Yellow leaders say that Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien has blamed Yellow for failing its workers, “but it is the Teamsters’ leadership who has failed the 22,000 Teamsters employed by Yellow as well as the 8,000 non-union employees who may soon become the Teamsters’ collateral damage.”
“For many months, Teamsters’ leadership has steadfastly refused to negotiate the company’s long-planned and necessary modernization effort that would enable Yellow, a 100-year-old company, to streamline and strengthen its operations to compete against non-union carriers,” according to Yellow’s statement.
O’Brien said that Yellow “has failed its workers once again and continues to neglect its responsibilities. This corporation’s gross mismanagement is another affront to the livelihoods and well-being of 22,000 Teamsters nationwide. Following years of worker givebacks, federal loans and other bailouts, this deadbeat company has only itself to blame for being in this embarrassing position.”
Yellow leaders said that to keep up with the times and customers’ needs, the company must implement its well-publicized business modernization plan known as “One Yellow.”
“Yet Teamsters’ leadership has rejected all proposed changes of operations and all proposed interim agreements, freezing the company’s business plan for nine months,” according to Yellow’s statement. “This has cost Yellow in excess of $137 million in Adjusted EBITDA and has prevented critical refinancing for the company.”
Yellow leaders contend that the company “has tried to meet to negotiate a contract that would provide wage increases for its Teamster employees. In fact, just last week, Yellow made yet another proposal to the Teamsters, offering a significant wage increase that aligns with its union competitors. Commencement of meaningful negotiations with the Teamsters would set the stage for Yellow to reengage in comprehensive refinancing efforts with its lenders while clearing a path to advance One Yellow. All stakeholders- lenders, shareholders, employees and customers need to see progress.”
In short, the statement reads, “Teamsters’ leadership’s obstruction of One Yellow directly caused Yellow’s liquidity crisis and Yellow’s need to implement cash-conservation measures, including its benefit funding deferral request.”
Yellow executives say that for nine months, “Yellow has been ready, willing, and able to meet with the Teamsters at any time and at any place to discuss the future of its union and non-union employees and to work through the implementation of One Yellow. Even today, the Company remains ready, willing, and able to hold serious negotiations.”
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