LITTLE ROCK - A lawsuit against trucking company YRC Worldwide over its new contract with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was dismissed by a federal judge last Thursday.
ABF Freight System Inc. had claimed in the lawsuit that the Teamsters and YRC had breached the National Master Freight Agreement, a collective bargaining agreement including most unionized trucking employees in the country.
ABF Freight System Inc., the largest subsidiary of Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp. -- sought $750 million in damages.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright junked the lawsuit Ãƒ‚Ã¢€“ after a four-hour hearing Ãƒ‚Ã¢€“ arguing that ABF and YRC had different contracts with the Teamsters.
"They were separate bargaining units, separate bargains, separate contracts," she said. "ABF failed to establish that it was in fact a signatory to the contract."
Stated in an email by Arkansas Best spokesman David Humphrey that they are disappointed in the ruling. And they still believe that the case they brought to court was strong. They will review the Court's ruling and will consider the next steps they will take which will possibly include an appeal of the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
ABF's lawyer, Gerald Hathaway, claim that YRC and the Teamsters violated the NMFA by proceeding into side agreements without involving ABF.
YRC's counsel, John Hartman, on the other hand, defended that - in the first place - ABF was not involved in the contract negotiations.
According to Wright, testimony revealed that ABF back off from the contract negotiations with YRC and the Teamsters and it even initiated its own negotiations with the unions.
This resulted to the Teamsters sealing agreements with both YRC and ABF.
ABF declared it was backing off from an employers group that involved YRC and three other trucking companies negotiating with the Teamsters and would have their own negotiations with the union about a new labor agreement in August 2007.
According to earlier Times Record reports, the ownership of the four companies was unified under YRC, giving it four votes in the group to ABF's one between 2003 and 2007.