Retired Teamsters fight pension cuts
Unions for workers at Overland Park-based YRC Freight and two affiliated companies reached a tentative labor agreement that would result in wage increases over the next five years for most who are covered under the proposal.
The Teamsters posted the new agreement on Wednesday, just weeks before the 30,000 members who work for YRC Freight, New Penn and Holland, are set to vote. The votes on the agreement, which runs until 2024, are due by May 3.
Ernie Soehl, director of the Teamsters National Freight Division, said the negotiation committee believed this latest agreement got the most amount of money possible out of YRC Freight.
“We pushed the company to the absolute limit,” Soehl said in a union newsletter.
Mike Kelley, a spokesman for YRC Freight, declined to comment.
A chief highlight of the proposal was a $4 hourly wage increase over five years for “the vast majority of workers.” That increase represents an 18 percent increase for most drivers and dockworkers, according to the Teamsters’ announcement. Janitors, porters and maintenance workers hired after February 2014 can also expect wage hikes, including a $1 increase retroactive to April 1.
Workers also get a week of vacation that the union conceded to YRC Freight in 2015. The vacation was among several concessions offered to YRC Freight over the last decade. The Teamsters leadership touted the newest agreement because YRC, it said, continues to face financial difficulties.
“The entire committee was, and remains, completely committed to the membership,” Soehl said. “The livelihoods of nearly 30,000 workers hang in the balance and 30,000 families and 30,000 families count on the health care provided under this contract.”
The tentative agreement also includes some limits to compensation to YRC Freight’s executive ranks.
Union leadership objected to bonuses taken by YRC executives in 2014. Under the proposed agreement, for every dollar that YRC executives receive in bonuses, the bargaining unit gets $2 split equally among the members, according to a Teamsters document. In other words, $5 million in bonuses in a given year paid to YRC executives would mean union members would get $10 million to share among 30,000 members.