As it appears most of the drivers left stranded days before Christmas by the sudden closure of Tulsa, OK-based Arrow Trucking have made it home, the next chapter is just beginning.
Attorney Charles Ercole of the Philadelphia-based firm Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP, told Fleet Owner his firm is filing a suit on behalf of employees in Northern Illinois Federal court against Arrow for violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
“If they were in as bad a financial shape as they were, the vendors were probably already nervous, and they should have notified the employees,” he said. “You can’t make people work if you can’t pay them.”
According to Ercole, “we have information from employees that their last couple of paychecks bounced.” Arrow employed approximately 1,400.
Under the Federal WARN statute, companies of a certain size, and Arrow Trucking qualifies, must provide 60 days notice of a pending closure, or provide 60 days of severance, which Arrow did not do, he said. Arrow shut down suddenly two days before Christmas, leaving hundreds of drivers far from home with no notice. Many did not know of the closure until they tried to use their fuel cards and were told they had been deactivated.
Ercole, who specializes in labor and employment litigation, said companies often use the argument that they didn’t shut down, but rather a lender forced them to close. A similar argument was used by USF Corp. when it shut down USF Red Star on May 21, 2004. Ercole represented 1,900 employees in a class-action suit. Eventually, Yellow Roadway, parent of USF Corp. at the time, agreed to a $7 million settlement.
Ercole said the suit filed Monday would be moved into the bankruptcy court should Arrow enter bankruptcy proceedings.
While there will be proceedings in court today, Daimler Truck Financial, which provided the financing for many of the trucks in Arrow’s inventory, is still trying to help drivers and customers who may have freight left stranded somewhere because of the closure.
“We had a majority of Arrow’s fleet and that’s why we stepped in to help the drivers,” said Daimler spokesman James Ryan. “The first concern was the driver and his rig, but we also understand there are customers out there [looking] for their freight.”
Daimler has set up a special hotline for customers in search of freight. Anyone looking for cargo information can call 1-877-294-9679 or send an email to [email protected] , and the company will attempt to help.
As of Monday morning, Ryan said Daimler was unsure of how much freight may be sitting somewhere, although he mentioned that the company has received nearly 700 calls from drivers and customers seeking information.
Daimler had set up a hotline for drivers to call and issued about 100 Greyhound bus tickets for stranded drivers. According to Ryan, since Christmas Eve, the company has not received any additional requests for bus tickets.
A special Facebook page was set up in the aftermath of the closure offering help for drivers. Everyone from truck drivers to other carriers offered assistance in getting drivers home for Christmas. There are now nearly 6,000 fans of the site.
When Arrow closed, a phone message was left for drivers telling them to deliver their trucks to the nearest dealer with no further explanation. The only statement the company made was that it was still trying to work out arrangements with its lenders.
Daimler Truck Financial said the company has received about 575 rigs as of Saturday morning and was expecting another 150 or so to be turned in today.