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New Penn OKs new concessions

Teamsters local unions representing workers at New Penn Motor Express, including employees at a terminal in Cheektowaga, approved a second round of concessions for the trucking firm, less than a month after rejecting the givebacks.

The New Penn locals approved the concessions amid fear that its parent company, YRC Worldwide, would close the trucking firm, potentially costing hundreds of jobs nationwide.

"For our local, it's a good thing. They approved it the last time," said Michael N. Wach, the president of Teamsters Local 375, which represents about 32 members at New Penn's local terminal in Cheektowaga.

"Our members have given major concessions twice, now, to help keep this company in business," Wach said, expressing hope that YRC's fortunes would improve as the economy strengthens.

The union approved the concessions by an 890 to 329 margin, according to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union. The Teamsters union reform group said the vote at Local 375 was 25-4 in favor of the concessions, based on unofficial results.

YRC had agreed with the Teamsters last month on concessions designed to stabilize YRC's fortunes, gaining the support of 58.5 percent of all Teamsters voting. The plan included a 5 percent pay cut and the forfeiture of 18 months of pension payments.

But Teamsters at New Penn, which is a regional "less-than-truckload" carrier, voted against giving YRC a second concessions package this year.

YRC then called an emergency meeting with the Teamsters National Freight Industry negotiating committee to address the concerns at New Penn and schedule the revote that concluded on Wednesday.

Before the revote, Teamsters officials said YRC indicated it planned to seek a "change in operations" to merge New Penn into YRC. The Teamsters committee said that kind of merger "could cost hundreds of Teamsters jobs," prompting the majority of New Penn local unions to request a revote by its members.

New Penn, which is based in Pennsylvania, has more than 2,000 employees and 24 terminals, including one in Cheektowaga with a total of 61 employees, according to YRC Worldwide.

The contract changes rejected earlier by the New Penn members but approved by other YRC workers, are expected to save the trucking firm $45 million to $50 million a month through 2010. The first round of concessions, approved earlier this year, included a 10 percent pay cut.


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