Local union representatives of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters met with YRC officials and decided to bring a vote on a contract extension
for their members.
YRC wants to extend the current contract from March 31, 2015, to March 2019, asking for more concessions from its employees in order to pay down what it says is significant amounts of debt. Officials say these debt payments — the first of which occurs in February — can’t be met unless the contract, complete with existing concessions from the employees — is extended.
The company has said it will need to have a new contract ratified by January in order to have its debt restructured by Feb. 1. If the debt isn’t restructured by then, officials said the company might go out of business.
The contract extension includes $750 bonuses instead of increased pay for the next two years, a cap on vacation pay, a new attendance policy and a five-month delay in health and wellness increases, among other provisions, according to the website Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
“The proposal to be voted has changed since the initial presentation to the IBT on Nov. 20,” the website noted. “It no longer has any change in overtime after eight hours, or any requirement to work all week to get (health and welfare) fully paid.”
Ballots will be mailed out Dec. 10, and votes will be counted on Jan. 8. A majority of votes is needed to pass the new contract.
“The union leadership believes that all our members who would be affected by the company proposal or by the consequences the company says will occur if it is not approved should have the right to decide their own destiny,” said Tyson Johnson, co-chairman of the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC). “Given the enormous sacrifices that employees have already made to keep this company in business, TNFINC is not making a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ recommendation. Nevertheless, we are committed that it is our members’ right, not ours, to decide what is best for our members and their families.”
James Welch, YRC’s chief executive officer, said the contract extension would allow the company to “gain additional operating flexibilities in areas such as the increased use of purchased transportation and utility employees, among others, and allows us to move forward with our effort to refinance the company's balance sheet," effectively ending the company’s two-year refinancing process.
The company’s chief financial officer, Jamie Pierson, added that the refinancing process has been challenging at times, but the end is almost here.
“With this agreement to vote in hand, we are now focusing on getting out to the front lines where the real work occurs and communicating with our hardworking men and women about why this new proposed agreement is critical to our company's future,” he said. “The foundation of this company's strength is the support of many stakeholders including our employees, lenders, shareholders and, most importantly, our customers."