Episode 7: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Ched Jennings is joined by Rodney Britton. He’s the Teamsters Local 89 Business Agent. Recently we learn that Yellow Freight is going out of business. Today, we’re going to talk about the Yellow Freight bankruptcy impacts your workers’ compensation benefits. This is definitely on the minds of employees who suffered work-related injuries while working for the company. Many of them are Teamsters in our local community.
Should We Be Worried About Our Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Ched begins with a simple answer, “No.” Injured workers will get every dollar to which they are entitled by law, for their workers’ compensation benefits. The bankruptcy can affect employment issues, as well as Health and Welfare issues, but not their workers’ comp benefits and medical benefits.
If you have not filed a claim for Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits, due to a work-related injury while working for Yellow Freight, you still have time and should still be entitled to receive them.
How Big Is Yellow Freight?
Rodney comments that there are approximately 148 people affected between Jeffersonville, Indiana and Bowling Green, Kentucky. Yellow Freight’s decision to file for bankruptcy and to go out of business is a loss for many families. Rodney started with the company in 2004, when it was known as USF Holland. Yellow Freight purchased USF Holland during the 2006-2007 timeframe. He’s confident the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is working hard to ensure its members get what they deserve, including the Health and Welfare benefits.
Nationally, there are about 22,000 Teamsters working for Yellow Freight. It’s a serious issue. Teamsters Local 89 has roughly 17,000 members.
Yellow Freight Is Self-Insured
In Kentucky, if you have 1 or more employees, you are required to have workers’ comp insurance. Unlike many companies that pay for workers’ compensation insurance, Yellow Freight is actually self-insured. For a company, or a group formed by several companies, to have the right to act as its own insurance provider, it is required to post bonds to act as a safety net to cover any benefits that it may be required to pay.
If the company cannot pay the benefits, or goes out of business, the state will call the bonds. The bonds will then be used to pay the benefits. There might be a couple of initial blips in the process, but the benefit payments for workers’ compensation will be paid.
Ched comments that he knows Fred Zuckerman and Sean O’Brien are aware that the Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits are going to get paid. As Rodney comments, Fred and Sean are fighting to get the Health and Welfare benefits, along with other issues, resolved.
What Happens When a Regular Company Goes Out of Business?
While Yellow Freight is self-insured, most other companies are not. So, what happens when these businesses go under? How do the workers’ comp benefits continue to get paid?
If you’ve been in business, you were required by law, to pay for workers’ comp insurance to cover your employees. Ched explains that it’s actually the insurance company that is responsible for paying the benefits, not the company itself. This is how employees can feel better about receiving their benefits and medical treatment, even if their company either files bankruptcy or goes out of business.
What Happens if the Insurance Company Goes Out of Business?
Actually, it has happened. In Kentucky, there’s a Kentucky Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Association. They will take over, should an insurance company fail. This is another built-in safety net for anyone who has the right to file for workers’ comp benefits.
What is the Role of a Union Business Agent?
Rodney is the Business Agent for Teamsters Local 89. He’s held this role since March of 2021. In this position, he represents Teamsters from a number or different companies. He is responsible for defending members and working with the union stewards to resolve a range of issues. This often involves dealing with a grievance procedure and possibly involves the JAC or an arbitration hearing.
Rodney was also a union steward during 2014-2021. He understands the issues and what needs to be done to project the rights and the jobs of his Local 89 Teamster brothers and sisters. They know he has their backs. People understand how much he can impact their lives and their ability to provide for their families. From that standpoint, it’s a very rewarding role.
Common Types of Injuries to Teamsters
If you’re a Teamster, you’re working hard to make a living. It’s a physical job. Unfortunately, people get injured performing the tasks they need to do to get the job done. Rodney briefly discusses some of the more common types of injuries a Teamster might experience. He comments that in his experience, the injuries often involve the knees, your back, shoulders and the neck.
Remember Your Duty to Notify Your Employer
Ched explains that it’s extremely important that you let your supervisor or someone else in management know that you’ve been injured. In fact, it’s required by Kentucky law. If you don’t give proper notice, your case could be dismissed.
Understand that telling a co-worker or your union steward does not satisfy your duty to notify obligation. You need to tell someone in management. You can tell your supervisor, a manager at another terminal, or even a manager at another assembly area.
Ched clarifies that if the union steward were to tell someone in management that you’ve been injured, that could satisfy the obligation on your behalf. However, to be safe, you should do it as soon as you can.
Seeking Medical Treatment
In Kentucky, an injured worker has the right to pick the doctor he/she wants to treat the work-related injury. Indiana is different. You want to make sure you trust your doctor and believe that your doctor will do what’s best for you and your ability to heal.
It’s important that you do seek medical treatment for your work-related injuries.
What’s Going on Now at Yellow Freight?
Rodney explains that both the Jeffersonville and the Bowling Green terminals are locked up. He and others are doing their best to help affected Teamsters to find union work. Rodney is working with another local freight company to see if they can take some of the Yellow Freight workers. Rodney also mentions the road board that was recently established.
Need to Contact Rodney Britton?
Telephone Rodney: (502) 368-5885
Email Rodney: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ched wraps up the episode by noting that the way Fred Zuckerman and Sean O’Brien are working on behalf of Teamsters in DC to the way Rodney and others are engaged at the local level, it underscores the value and the strength of having a union. It’s how the rights of workers are protected.
Ched goes on to comment about how many good things are coming out of the leadership of the Teamsters and other unions.
Do You Need a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Office Phone: (502) 583-3882
Follow the Jennings Law Offices on Facebook
Principal Office Address: 401 West Main St., Suite 1910, Louisville, KY 40202
The Jennings Law Offices doesn’t charge for phone calls. Many union stewards and others have Ched’s cell phone number. If possible, we’d like you to come to the office. For some people, that doesn’t always work. Video calls might be an option. In fact, due to the pandemic, many of the hearings and other activities are handled via Zoom video conferencing. You can do a video call from your computer or a cell phone.
That’s it for this episode. Until next time, remember, this is the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Podcast. It’s what you need to know.
Principal Office in Louisville, KY.
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