May 24, 2023

Teamsters approve strike at ABF Freight if needed


The Teamsters union said Wednesday that a strike authorization had been approved by members covered under ABF Freight’s national master freight agreement. The action is likely a negotiating tactic on the part of the union and a sign of potential next steps if talks between the two parties are unable to yield a new agreement.

A letter obtained by FreightWaves from John Murphy, Teamsters national freight director and co-chair of the organization’s negotiating arm, to the local unions said the secret ballot produced “a very good turnout,” with 97.73% of votes cast in favor of the measure.

“The members’ show of support comes at a critical time as we head into the final phase of bargaining,” the letter read.

On May 12, the Teamsters said in a statement that bargaining with ABF, ArcBest’s (NASDAQ: ARCB) less-than-truckload subsidiary, had resumed but “the parties currently remain far apart on economics.” The notice said negotiations on the “tough issues,” like the use of outside transportation, autonomous vehicles and inward-facing cameras, all of which the union has historically opposed, were beginning.

The update said the parties were expected to resume talks on Monday.

“While it is the committee’s desire to avoid a strike and reach a new negotiated collective bargaining agreement, we need to be prepared for all eventualities,” Murphy told members in an April 28 letter.

A spokesperson with ArcBest declined to comment regarding the matter.

At the end of 2022, ArcBest had more than 8,600 union employees. The current labor contract stipulates a 2% annual increase to wages and benefits. The deal also has a profit-sharing component paying up to 3% based on the operating performance in ArcBest’s asset-based unit, which includes LTL operations. The maximum payout has been achieved by the unit in each of the past two years.

ABF’s current labor deal with the union expires on June 30.

The Teamsters negotiating committee is also working on collective bargaining agreements with UPS (NYSE: UPS) and TForce Freight (NYSE: TFII), both of which expire on July 31.

The union has also agreed to pull forward labor talks with Yellow Corp. (NASDAQ: YELL) by a year as the two parties have been unable to reach terms on the carrier’s proposed changes to operations.

More FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden

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