Less-than-truckload giant ABF Freight System and the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee announced that they expect to begin negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 18.

TNFINC is the negotiating arm of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. ABF is the largest subsidiary of Arkansas Best Corp. and was founded in 1923.

The current collective bargaining agreement, known as the National Master Freight Agreement, expires at midnight on March 31, 2013.

It covers approximately 7,800 ABF Teamster employees in various locations across the United States, including road drivers, city drivers, dockworkers, mechanics and clerical personnel.

ABF recently announced it was withdrawing from the National Master Freight Agreement, which covers more than one LTL carrier, and would negotiate with the union directly.

ABF in 2010 sued the Teamsters and several YRC subsidiaries for violation of the National Master Freight Agreement. ABF claimed the concessions the Teamsters made in its negotiations with struggling YRC were not allowed under the NMFA.

The lawsuit was recently dismissed for the second time by Judge Susan Webber Wright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.