Teamsters Fear ABF Freight's Plans to Move

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Jun. 9, 2014 12:00 am  

That’s easier said than done, though, Nichols said, because it’s not just the union member who would be moving; in many cases, it would also be his or her family. That means spouses would leave jobs, children would change schools and leave friends, families would move away.

“It would place a lot of burden on a lot of folks to abandon family farms or uproot spouses,” Nichols said. “I have not spoken to anybody who has made a firm decision.”

Nichols said there is almost nothing the union can do to prevent the move if ABF Freight wants it, as the company has said it intends to do. A meeting between the Teamsters and Gov. Mike Beebe resulted in the state asking ArcBest to consider a move to West Memphis instead.

That would keep the jobs in Arkansas, of course, but workers in North Little Rock would still be just about as far away from the new facility.

The EDGE group in Memphis offered ABF Freight a $4 million PILOT — the acronym stands for payment in lieu of tax — incentive to relocate and expand a distribution center. ABF Freight, which made a presentation for the incentive, told EDGE it would buy two adjoining lots and increase the size of the terminal from 42,000 SF to 138,000 SF.

ABF Freight’s desire to move — especially to the logistics hub that is Memphis — is part of its recent streamlining. The company closed eight terminals in 2013 and 22 more since the start of this year, those moves being one of the first actions taken after a labor agreement between ArcBest and the Teamsters was finalized in November.

“All the trucking companies we deal with, it is a constant struggle competing with Memphis,” Nichols said. “Memphis has so many advantages logistically.”



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