YRC Freight tries pay raises for hard-to-fill Teamsters jobs, but not in Kansas City

YRC Freight reached an agreement with the Teamsters union to offer higher pay to attract and retain dock workers in some markets.
YRC Freight reached an agreement with the Teamsters union to offer higher pay to attract and retain dock workers in some markets. The Kansas City Star

YRC Freight and two of its regional trucking affiliates have turned to pay raises for some hard-to-fill jobs three years after their parent company won pay cuts and other concessions from its Teamsters workforce to avoid bankruptcy.

The raises for some dock workers were outlined in an agreement between the companies and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The independent Teamsters for a Democratic Union posted the document online.

Mike Kelley, a spokesman for Overland Park-based YRC Worldwide, declined to comment on the agreement. It called the pay increases “market-based adjustments” and said their purpose was to “support employee recruitment and retention efforts.”

The TDU’s post included a list of markets where the raises would be allowed if approved by the union local there. The list includes various terminals in Chicago, Boston, New York, Denver and California but excluded those in the Kansas City area.

“For the first time ever, freight Teamsters at the same company will make different wages at different terminals,” said the TDU post.

Ken Paff, a recruiter for the group, said the raises may address hiring problems for the company but come at the expense of the union’s principle of equality for its members.

“We’re happy to have anyone get a raise, but it should go to all,” Paff said. “Why didn’t they demand it everywhere?”

The agreement allows some newly hired workers to immediately make 100 percent of the pay scale for that job, though the existing agreement required them to start at a lower wage and progress toward the full rate. It said existing workers in those jobs who are still progressing toward 100 percent of scale would be moved up to the full wage, too.

YRC Freight, which is a national carrier, and regional carriers USF Holland and New Penn are covered by the agreement. It was unclear why YRC’s Reddaway regional carrier was not part of the agreement.

The agreement covers mostly dock workers, though some of them have commercial driver’s licenses.

A driver shortage has led the trucking industry to step up recruiting and training efforts as well as raise pay and offer bonuses. YRC, for example, hired its first recruiter for drivers ever in May 2014.

In January 2014, Teamsters working for YRC Worldwide companies agreed to extend until 2019 the 15 percent pay cut they’d first accepted in 2009. The agreement allowed YRC Worldwide to make lower contributions to workers’ pensions and included other concessions by workers.

Teamsters members originally rejected a similar proposal in their first vote despite a DVD mailed to their homes that showed CEO James Welch saying the pact was needed to “save all our jobs and our company.”

The agreement allowed covered Teamsters to earn a profit-sharing payment from YRC Worldwide in early 2016 because of the company’s financial gains in 2015.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar