YRC Worldwide Inc. has announced reaching a tentative agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) to modify the current labor agreement for employees covered by the National Master Freight Agreement. YRC includes the Yellow Transportation, Roadway, Holland and New Penn business units.

While YRC said details of the agreement will not be available until later in the week, IBT said the action will both provide YRC with economic relief and protect the jobs and retirement security of tens of thousands of Teamsters.

“I believe our freight members understand the terrible economic conditions that are battering the trucking industry,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “We are facing the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. We all need to work together to get through this period of uncertainty. This agreement will help protect tens of thousands of our members’ jobs. Failing to act now would be a grave mistake.”

Approximately 40,000 Teamster drivers, dockworkers, clerical employees and others are actively employed at Yellow Transportation, Roadway, Holland and New Penn, the union said.

"We have already taken a number of steps to strengthen our financial position and improve both our profitability and our competitiveness, including the continued successful integration of Yellow Transportation and Roadway, the exchange of equity for notes through private transactions, modification of our non-union pension and retirement plans, sales of excess properties and, most recently, the commencement of a $100 million tender offer to purchase outstanding notes,” said Bill Zollars, chairman, president & CEO of YRC Worldwide. “While these efforts have been effective, the worsening macroeconomic crisis in America and the increasingly critical state of our industry mean that we must take additional measures.

"The industry decline in volumes and pricing is continuing in the current quarter, affecting our profits and cash flow and our ability to pay down debt from operating funds. The modification to the agreement, which we expect to be ratified in December, will establish a more competitive cost structure allowing us to accelerate our market share recovery and capitalize on opportunities for future growth, while at the same time, defending the long-term prospects and job security of our employees,” Zollars added.

According to the Teamsters, the details of the agreement will be discussed on Wednesday with leaders of the local unions that represent members from the four YRC companies. If they approve the plan, Teamster freight members will be asked to ratify the agreement next month.

“This agreement will help the company get through this deepening recession and protect the jobs and health, welfare and pension benefits of our freight Teamsters,” said Tyson Johnson, director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. “This is a very difficult time for our members, but this agreement will protect the livelihoods of our members and their families, which is our number-one priority.”