Immediately prior to squelching on contractually obligated payments to sustain critical health and welfare and pension benefits for workers, Yellow CEO Darren Hawkins issued two letters to the Teamsters Union attempting to broker a back-door deal to rescue his humiliatingly mismanaged freight company.
From July 12-13, Hawkins made informal offers to the Teamsters begging the union to return to the bargaining table well before the expiration of the current contract, suggesting the beleaguered freight company could offer workers hourly increases of just over $2 in the first year of a hypothetical new contract. Shockingly, the communications from Yellow were stipulated on the Teamsters agreeing to a new five-year contract as quickly as possible.
Further, the letters from the CEO 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.”
Just two days after the last letter was received, on July 15, two Yellow operating companies, YRC Freight and Holland, failed to make required payments totaling $50 million to the Central States Health and Welfare Fund and the Central States Pension Fund. The delay in payment could cause workers to lose health coverage and pension accruals as soon as July 23. Teamsters at Yellow would be eligible to initiate a work stoppage any time on or after July 24.
The union has formally notified Yellow of a potential strike.
“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,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “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.”
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.
The current collective bargaining agreement between the Teamsters and Yellow is not set to expire until March 31, 2024.