Teamsters plan strike authorization vote

| Thursday, January 23, 2003

The Teamsters plan to hold a strike authorization vote sometime in the next two weeks after negotiations with the Motor Freight Carriers Association stalled, the union announced in a statement this week.

The MFCA, a national trade association representing unionized general freight carriers such as Roadway and Yellow, and the Teamsters said in dueling releases that the break in talks – which the MFCA described as a “temporary recess” – was caused by differences over wages and benefits.

Union ballots will be distributed the next two weeks, with results due Feb. 3. The current contract between the carriers and the Teamsters expires March 31.

Union officials, in pushing for a better wage package, pointed to significant increases in quarterly profits reported by some less-than-truckload carriers involved in the negotiations, Reuters news service reported. For example, the news service said, Arkansas Best Tuesday reported fourth-quarter 2002 earnings of $14.5 million, compared with $9.5 million for the same period in 2001.

However, the MFCA stressed that any agreement reached between the carriers and the union had to take into account the economic viability of the companies.

"Any labor agreement that puts these companies at risk in the highly competitive trucking marketplace also puts at risk the very job security and health care concerns identified by the Teamsters," Tim Lynch, President and CEO of the Motor Freight Carriers Association, said in a statement.

The Teamsters indicated no new negotiations are scheduled at this point.