By TIM ROWDEN
Yellow Corp. shut down its trucking operation on July 30 and filed for bankruptcy Aug. 6, leaving 30,000 employees suddenly out of work.
The Teamsters represent 22,000 unionized workers at Yellow nationwide. Yellow employed more than 500 people in the St. Louis area.
“Today’s news is unfortunate but not surprising,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in an announcement. “Yellow has historically proven that it could not manage itself despite billions of dollars in worker concessions and hundreds of millions in bailout funding from the federal government. This is a sad day for workers and the American freight industry.”
WRITING ON THE WALL
“The way things had gone over the last month didn’t look good,” said Larry Sprinkle, president of St. Louis Teamsters Local 688, which represents 42 members at Yellow.
Sprinkle said the union was working on next steps to help members find other jobs in the freight industry. “We’re reaching out to them and providing them all the information we can to move forward, who to contact about their pensions, who’s hiring, who’s not hiring.”
A class-action suit filed Aug. 1 against Yellow Corp. says the company failed to provide a required 60 days’ layoff notice to its 30,000 union and non-union employees. The class action includes all affected employees at Yellow and its four operating companies — YRC Freight, Holland, New Penn and Reddaway — not provided Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices.
STRUGGLING FOR YEARS
Yellow Corp. has struggled for years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported:
In 2020, under the Trump administration, the Treasury Department granted the company a $700 million pandemic-era loan on national security grounds. Last month, a congressional probe concluded that the Treasury and Defense departments “made missteps” in this decision — and noted that Yellow’s “precarious financial position at the time of the loan, and continued struggles, expose taxpayers to a significant risk of loss.”
The government loan is due in September 2024. As of March, Yellow had made $54.8 million in interest payments and repaid just $230 million of the principal owed, according to government documents.
Earlier this month, the company averted a strike amid heated contract negotiations with the Teamsters. On July 23, a pension fund agreed to extend health benefits for workers at two Yellow Corp. operating companies, avoiding a planned walkout. The fund gave Yellow “30 days to pay its bills,” notably $50 million that Yellow failed to pay the Central States Health and Welfare Fund earlier in the month.