FRESNO – Fresno and Visalia truckers have lost their benefits along with their jobs after Yellow Corporation lost a 13-year battle with financial struggles.
Yellow Trucking declared bankruptcy and shut down their operations on July 30, which resulted in 30,000 employees nationwide losing their jobs. Between Fresno and Visalia, 64 Yellow Trucking employees were laid off after the company had been struggling financially for almost 13 years. Labor union, Teamsters 431 in Fresno is now assisting employees anyway they can as they figure out what to do next.
“A lot of them stayed hoping the company would turn around and get back to what it used to be,” Teamsters 431 secretary treasurer Steve Sharp said. “They lost their pension, but they still had their seniority and five weeks vacation, and it was still steady work.”
Even though employees have known Yellow was struggling financially for a number of years, many drivers still considered Yellow to be their ideal employment option, according to Sharp. Drivers who had stayed with the company for so many years would have lost benefits and pay if they had to start over at a new company.
“I think (some of the drivers) were making around $28-$29 an hour. They could start back out at $20, $21 an hour at a new job,” Sharp said. “Earning five weeks vacation – that’s something that’s going to take you 20 years to get if you go somewhere else.”
Sharp said employees in the Central Valley contacted him to let him know the company was not giving drivers any new freight to carry around a week before Yellow’s shutdown.
“I started getting phone calls from the guys saying, ‘hey, they’re telling us to come in, and we’re not making any more pickups;’ which is usually an indication that they’re (Yellow Trucking) trying to clear up the system so they don’t have a bunch of freight stuck in their trailers,” Sharp said.
The rest of the week drivers were making deliveries until they ran out of freight completely and were told not to come in for work anymore. It was after that, on Sunday July 30, that Sharp received calls saying Yellow Trucking had shut down completely.
According to Sharp, 13 years ago, Yellow Trucking asked the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) – which is the Teamsters headquarters in Washington, DC – to delay their contractual pension contribution. Yellow asked for an extra 18 months to pay the contribution and once the 18 months went by the company said they still could not pay it.
Sharp explained that Teamsters is doing everything it can to help employees make grievances, receive unused vacation time, sign up for unemployment, as well as find their best future insurance and job placement options.
He also mentioned that local Teamsters members who need help as a result of the Yellow Trucking bankruptcy can contact him at the Teamsters 431 office number, which is 559-486-5410.