Analysts say that both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Motor Freight Carriers Assoc. (MFCA) will benefit from reaching a contract agreement more than a month before the current one expires.

The two sides reached a tentative National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) on Thursday. The current agreement expires on March 31.

According to industry analyst Martin Labbe of Ormond Beach, FL-based Martin Labbe Associates, an early agreement is a win-win result for both sides.

"You don't want to interrupt service because of a labor dispute, especially in hard economic times," Labbe told Fleet Owner.

LTL carriers Roadway Express Inc., Yellow Transportation Inc., ABF Freight System Inc. and USF Holland, a unit of Chicago-based USFreightways Corp., make up the MFCA. Smaller carriers that employ 20,000 additional Teamsters traditionally adopt similar contracts to the NMFA.

Labbe noted the MFCA members have been gaining market share since the Labor Day 2002 demise of Consolidated Freightways. He said that the momentum those companies gained could have slowed or declined if the labor talks continued forward.

"Right now it appears both parties have a better understanding of each other," Labbe said, comparing the current talks to the more drawn out ones held in 1998.