June 18, 2024 4:17 AM
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Talk on the Tradeshow Floor: Is Yellow Sending Up a White Flag? 

by Jeanne Brei

 

Latest Update from the Wall Street Journal: Yellow “ceased all operations Sunday (July 30) after struggling with debt and union negotiations.” Based in Nashville, Tenn., the company had more than 12,000 trucks to move freight for Walmart, Home Depot and other businesses, according to the WSJ report. The WSJ adds that Yellow laid off hundreds of its nonunion workers and stopped taking in new shipments on July 28. “If Yellow collapses, about 30,000 people, including 22,000 Teamsters union members, are at risk of losing their jobs,” according to the WSJ.

The big news on the tradeshow floor this week is that Yellow has notified customers that they are no longer accepting any and all tradeshow TForce Letter about Yellowshipments–writing that “this form of service has been suspended indefinitely starting today.”

Ben Lee posted on Facebook, “Hearing news that YRC is no longer handling any tradeshow shipments as of this moment. Apparently their tradeshow service has been indefinitely suspended.” He included a photo of a memo from TForce Freight (pictured above) to their team to begin preparing for the influx of business in the coming weeks to cover for Yellow.

Teamsters President Sean O'BrienInformation from the Teamsters Newsroom website detailed the escalating difficulties that Yellow was having beginning last month when Yellow Corp. filed a lawsuit against the Teamsters on June 27  claiming “breach of contract.” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien (pictured right) replied that, “Yellow Corp.’s claims of breach of contract by the Teamsters are unfounded and without merit,” adding that “after decades of gross mismanagement, Yellow blew through a $700 million bailout from the federal government, and now it wants workers to foot the bill. For a company that loves to cry poor, Yellow’s executives seem to have no problem paying a team of high-priced lawyers to wage a public relations battle—all in a failed attempt to mask their incompetence.”

Fred Zuckerman TeamstersTeamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman (pictured left) explains, ““The company is misleading our members and the public. We have a contract with Yellow that expires March 31, 2024, and Teamsters are living up to it. Yellow’s management knows they’ve failed this company and their workforce because they can no longer live up to the terms they once agreed to. This lawsuit is a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save face.”

On July 17, the Teamsters Central States Board of Trustees voted 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. Yellow owed Central States $50 million on July 15, a payment it missed and must still make by July 23 to avoid a work stoppage and interruption in benefits for Teamster families. Teamsters were preparing for a possible strike as early as July 24. Benefit suspensions were to go into effect July 23 if the company failed to make the critical payment to the Central States Health and Welfare Fund and the Central States Pension Fund for June 2023.

“Yellow has failed its workers once again and continues to neglect its responsibilities,” says O’Brien. “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.”

Just days before the benefit payments were due, Yellow CEO Darren Hawkins (pictured right) sent two letters with informal offers on July 12-13  to the Teamsters begging the union to return to the bargaining table well before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement that ends in March 31, 2024, suggesting the beleaguered freight company could offer workers hourly increases of just over $2 in the first year of a hypothetical new contract. The offer from Yellow was stipulated on the Teamsters agreeing to a new five-year contract as quickly as possible. The letters spelled out that Yellow would only be in the position to make required benefits payments if the union swiftly entered into negotiations and agreed to a “prompt resolution.”

According to the Teamsters Newsroom, O’Brien immediately responded in writing to both informal requests from Yellow on the days they were received. Responses by the Teamsters blasted Yellow for attempting to tether wage increases to future commitments from the union in an unnegotiated new deal. O’Brien reminded Hawkins that YRC Freight and Holland’s failure to pay their bills and remit obligated benefits payments to Central States now would adversely affect working families that have already submitted to substantial givebacks to the floundering company.

Unfortunately, two Yellow operating companies, YRC Freight and Holland, failed to make the required payments totaling $50 million to the Central States Health and Welfare Fund and the Central States Pension Fund which meant Teamsters at Yellow were eligible to initiate a work stoppage any time on or after July 24. So, the union formally notified Yellow of a potential strike.

Says O’Brien, “Darren ‘Do Nothing’ Hawkins and the management team at Yellow cannot hold the Teamsters hostage as they dream up disingenuous offers to save themselves from their own incompetence. It is not left to rank-and-file Teamsters to drag Yellow’s sinking ship to shore. We are not going to agree to informal offers for new wages in the hopes of getting a fair contract next year when YRC Freight and Holland can’t even figure out how to pay their bills right now.”

 

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