Leaders from about 160 Teamster locals that represent ABF members have unanimously endorsed a tentative master agreement and supplements covering 7,500 workers at the carrier ABF.  The vote supporting the tentative agreement and supplements paves the way for a vote by the members.

“Our members number one goal was to protect their health, welfare and pension benefits and we achieved this despite all the financial challenges the company is facing,” said Gordon Sweeton, co-chairman of the National ABF Negotiating Committee for the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee.

The union negotiating committee unanimously endorsed the tentative agreement earlier.

The Teamsters say they were able to defeat numerous attempted takeaways sought by the company, including major cuts to health, welfare and pension benefits.

The tentative agreement does call for a 7% wage reduction, but that will be entirely recouped by the fifth year of the contract.

“Nobody ever wants to see a pay cut, but in light of the company’s struggles and our desire to see the company survive, something needed to be done,” Sweeton said. “It is in our best interests, as well as ABF’s, that this company be given a chance to climb out of this deep recession so that our members’ futures are protected.”

Ballots will be mailed out on or about June 3 and are due back on or about June 27 and will then be counted.

Meantime, the less-than-truckload provider says on May 28 it will revise its general rates and charges for its freight division. Rates will increase by about 5.9%, although the effect on specific lanes and shipments will vary.