Teamsters at YRC Freight, Holland and New Penn have voted to approve a new YRCW National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) that raises wages, restores a week of vacation and protects benefits.
The national master portion of the agreement, which covers about 25,000 workers, was ratified by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin. The contract took effect in mid-May after one of 27 supplemental agreements—that was initially rejected—was approved on a re-vote. The other 26 supplements and the national master portion of the agreement were approved on the first vote on May 3.
“Over the past decade our members have sacrificed so much to keep the YRCW companies operating, and this contract restores the week of vacation and provides $4 in wage increases, among other improvements,” said Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters Freight Division. “I want to thank all our members for their support during this long process.”
“This contract should improve the livelihoods of our YRCW Teamsters for the next five years,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “Freight is the backbone of our great union and this contract recognizes our members for their hard work.”
Benefits and Improvements
“This is a very good contract,” said Tony Giustino, a member of Local 701 and steward who has worked at YRC Freight and Yellow Freight since 1999, and was a Teamster at another freight company since 1973.
“The $4 in wage increases are important, but the most important thing is the benefits. The nonunion freight companies pay decent wages, but they cannot match the Teamster-negotiated benefits. The biggest thing is that we will continue to receive excellent health care benefits at no cost,” Giustino said.
“In addition to the excellent wages and benefits, the language improvements in this contract are incredible,” said Anthony Fischetti, another Local 701 member and steward at YRC Freight. “For example, there is language prohibiting the use of on-board video cameras for disciplinary purposes and the installation of inward facing cameras in trucks. There is also excellent language preventing the company’s executives from giving out excessive bonuses, and many more examples of excellent job-protection language.
“The union’s committee showed true leadership and what they negotiated is incredible,” Fischetti said.
For the past decade, the YRCW operating companies have operated under a series of memoranda of understandings (MOUs) that contained significant economic concessions necessary to allow the company to survive.
At the outset of bargaining, in addition to seeking to reverse the trend of giving concessions, the union negotiating committee determined that it was necessary to get out from under the MOU structure and return to a traditional NMFA contract structure. The new contract accomplishes that, restores the traditional contractual structure and provides for significant economic and non-economic improvements for Teamsters. This was no small task because the YRCW companies continue to face financial difficulties, need to upgrade equipment and must seek to recapture market share.
The contract contains significant economic and language improvements for the membership, as well as creative tools for the companies to use to increase market share, expand into new areas of opportunity, and improve service while at the same time protecting and enhancing jobs, seniority, working conditions and earning opportunities for the membership.
The union committee also beat back numerous efforts by the companies to impose health care premium copays and other givebacks.
The improvements in the contract include:
• $4 in wage increases over five years for the vast majority of workers (an 18-percent increase for most drivers and dockworkers) including a $1 wage increase retroactive to April 1, 2019 (a 4.5-percent increase for most drivers and dockworkers);
• Significant increases for dock-only, clerical, maintenance employees, janitors and porters hired after February 2014 including a minimum of an immediate $1 wage increase retroactive to April 1, 2019;
• Restoration of the week of vacation that was given up years ago, effective April 1, 2019;
• Protection of health and welfare benefits with no employee premium co-pays. Up to $0.50 per hour increases each year for most funds. The company agreed to provide other funds with fixed guaranteed amounts to maintain benefits;
• Improved language to curb excessive executive bonuses; and
• Prohibitions against using driverless trucks.