Preston Trucking Co. drivers, represented by the Internationa Brotherhood of Teamsters, have voted to accept a 9 percent wage reduction starting April 1, as part of a plan to help the struggling Eastern Shore company.
Earlier this month, Yellow Freight Systems Inc., which recently acquired Preston, laid off 150 nonunion Preston employees and said it was seeking pay cuts from the company's remaining 5,600 workers. According to the Teamsters' contract with Preston, any wage cut was subject to approval by the membership.
"Our members have weighed their situation and voted to bail Preston out," Teamsters Vice President Dennis Skelton said yesterday in a statement. "Now it is up to management to put this company back on solid footing."
The vote was conducted over the weekend among members of 66 Teamsters locals throughout the central and northeastern states.
The proposal, which included a plan for profit-sharing if Preston begins making money, was approved by 78 percent of the members. A three-fourths vote of the membership was required for approval.
The cost reduction moves -- including layoffs, wage reductions and other measures -- were expected to save $20 million over the next year. The contract provides that the company could have requested wage reductions of up to 15 percent.
Yellow Freight officials said the pay reduction would be temporary. According to the Teamsters, a raise scheduled to take effect April 1 offsets some of the reduction, making the actual cut 6.3 percent.
Preston has been losing money for four years, including $14.6 million in 1992. The company has nearly 1,000 workers in Maryland, with its largest terminal in Glen Burnie.