Teamsters balk at LTL proposals

Trucking firms Roadway Corp. and Arkansas Best Corp. both reported positive fourth-quarter 2002 earnings this week. However, the momentum they and other LTL carriers gained as the result of Consolidated Freightways' demise may hit a roadblock. The Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC) unanimously called for a strike-authorization vote after talks broke off due to differences

Trucking firms Roadway Corp. and Arkansas Best Corp. both reported positive fourth-quarter 2002 earnings this week. However, the momentum they and other LTL carriers gained as the result of Consolidated Freightways' demise may hit a roadblock.

The Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC) unanimously called for a strike-authorization vote after talks broke off due to differences over healthcare costs and wages, a union official said on Tuesday.

"The companies' proposal to require some members to make health-care co-pays is completely unacceptable,” said Teamsters president Jim Hoffa, who is also chair of TNFINC. "The Teamsters union will not entertain an agreement that cuts health benefits."

In addition, the Teamsters say the employers' wage proposal falls far short of those contained in the 1998 National Master Freight Agreement and fails to even keep up with inflation.

Teamsters national freight director Phil Young said all local unions with freight members will hold a strike authorization vote over the next two weeks, with results expected on February 3.

Arkansas Best, one of the companies involved in the bargaining, on Tuesday reported a surge in fourth-quarter earnings to $14.5 million from $9.5 million in late 2001.

Roadway's net income rose to $28.1 million from $13.7 million a year earlier, spokesman John Hyre said.

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