Teamsters Drop Yellow Strike Threat After Central States Pension Extends Benefits

The union threatened to strike over a missed $50 million payment by subsidiaries of Yellow, which accused the Teamsters of breaching their CBA.


The Teamsters Union representing workers for Yellow Corp. operating companies YRC Freight and Holland has dropped its threat to strike after the Central States Health and Welfare Fund agreed Sunday to extend health care benefits for the workers.

The strike threat came Friday after the pension fund’s trustees voted to suspend health care benefits and cease pension accruals for Yellow Corp. employees after Holland Freight and Yellow Freight failed to make an obligated pension contribution. According to the pension fund, Yellow missed a $50 million payment on July 15 and needed to pay it by July 23. Instead, talks between the Teamsters and the pension fund on Sunday resulted in a 30-day extension of benefits while the pension fund waits for Yellow to make its payment.

“Yellow has failed its workers once again and continues to neglect its responsibilities,” Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien said in a release last week. “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.”

Yellow accused the Teamsters of breaching the collective bargaining agreement that governs the relationship between the two and blamed that breach for Yellow’s inability to make the monthly contribution payments to the Central States funds. According to the company, it wrote to Central States in June requesting a short-term deferral of its obligation to pay contributions for July and August, with interest.

“Regrettably, the board of trustees of Central States refused Yellow’s request, despite the funds’ healthy reserves,” the company said in a statement, adding that a strike “would be anything but lawful, as it would violate the parties’ collective bargaining agreement.”

Yellow alleges that the Teamsters’ leadership “steadfastly refused to negotiate” the company’s restructuring plans, which the company said is necessary to compete against non-union carriers. The company alleges in a lawsuit it filed against the union last month that the Teamsters’ opposition to the restructuring froze its business plan for nine months, costing it more than $137 million in adjusted EBITDA and prevented critical refinancing. 

“Ever since Teamsters’ leadership made its request that Yellow open its contract early, Yellow has tried to meet to negotiate a contract that would provide wage increases for its Teamster employees,” Yellow said in a statement, adding that the alleged obstruction “caused Yellow’s liquidity crisis and Yellow’s need to implement cash-conservation measures, including its benefit funding deferral request.”

Representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Yellow’s accusation that the Teamsters breached the CBA.

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