Drivers and dock workers at YRC Worldwide Inc. again have approved concessions aimed at keeping the trucking company viable through 2011.
In a much-awaited vote, the Teamsters said union members at YRC's operating units approved the extended agreement by healthy margins. At national carrier YRC Inc. and regional unit USF Holland, 62 percent vote to ratify while 38 percent vote against.
At New Penn, a YRC regional carrier operating in the Northeast, the vote was 69 percent approving the agreement with 31 percent rejecting the pact.
The concessions extend the union's national contract with YRC to March 2015 and maintains 15 percent wage cuts accepted last year.
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In addition, the new pact allows YRC to continue suspending monthly payments into union pension plans till next June. When those payments resume, the contribution will be at one-fourth the levels that were paid previously.
The new agreement also provides Overland Park-based YRC more flexibility on various work rules.
In all, YRC has said the new agreement would save the company $350 million annually.
Tyson Johnson, the Teamsters union's national freight director, said the approval means that YRC'hourly workers will continue to make big sacrfices during one of the worst economic periods in decades.
"However, we firmly believe this plan is the only hope for saving our members' jobs as this recession continues to cause so much hardship," Johnson said in a statement.
The approval by YRC's workforce was considered crucial by union leaders and trucking analysts to allow YRC to continue operating through next year.
Other restructuring moves will be needed over the next several months, including converting more debt to equity and finding a new equity partner to provide YRC with $300 million in new financing.
Without completing those tasks, the Teamsters would be allowed to void the new concessionary pact.
"As this restructuring moves forward over the next three to six months, the union will be involved every step of the way," said Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa.
YRC has more than 25,000 hourly employees, and about 12,000 drivers and dock workers on layoff.