ABF Freight, Teamsters Ratify 5-Year Labor Agreement

by Marty Cook  on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 10:04 am  

Arkansas Best Corp. headquarters in Fort Smith.

ABF Freight System Inc. and the Teamsters on Wednesday ratified a five-year labor agreement that will go into effect Sunday.

The agreement runs through March 31, 2018. ABF parent company Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith said the deal will save the less-than-truckload carrier between $55 million and $65 million annually.

The contract calls for 7 percent wage reduction, along with other benefit cuts, that would be recovered by workers during the life of the contract.

"On behalf of all the people and customers who depend upon ABF Freight, we are pleased that this final step in our lengthy contract negotiation process is now complete," Judy R. McReynolds, Arkansas Best's president and CEO, said in a news release. "This new labor agreement follows several years of sacrifice from our non-union employees. As the transportation and logistics market continues to rapidly evolve, we are grateful that our union employees have also recognized the need for ABF Freight to operate much more efficiently so that we can better serve our customers every day."

The majority of Teamsters approved the national contract in June and 26 of 27 supplements were approved Oct. 14. The last remaining holdout was the Central Region Local Cartage, which voted against a strike authorization Tuesday by a 70-30 margin, the Teamsters said.

After that strike vote, the union’s National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee held a conference call Wednesday and voted that the company’s proposal was accepted. The company had said the contract was its final offer.

"We have now arrived at a point where, simply put, there is nothing left to negotiate with this employer and no desire for a strike in the Central Region based on the vote we received [Tuesday] from the affected membership," said Gordon Sweeton, co-chairman of the union’s national negotiating committee. "The responsible course of action is to finalize the agreement."

The wage reductions begin Sunday.

"We believe that this agreement helps 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. "I would like to thank our ABF members for their patience and support during this difficult process."



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