Trucker Yellow Shuts Down, to File for Bankruptcy, 3 Years after $700-Million Government Bailout that Stank to High Heaven

Executive officers, directors, and Teamsters benefited from the bailout. So get it over with, finally.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Yellow Corporation – formerly YRC Worldwide, the recipient of a $700-million taxpayer bailout in July 2020 that has been condemned in maddening detail by the Congressional Oversight Commission – told laid-off non-union employees on Friday in a memo that the company, including its subsidiaries, is “shutting down regular operations on July 28” and that it is “closing and/or laying off employees at all of its locations, including yours,” and that their employment “will permanently terminate” on July 28, 2023, or within 14 days after the separation date.

US taxpayers, in addition to being owed $700 million, also hold 29.6% of the shares of Yellow [YELL], which on Friday closed at 71 cents. The shares will be wiped out in a bankruptcy filing, though they may continue to trade over the counter and maybe get the meme-stock crowd excited for a while.

On Friday, sources told The Wall Street Journal that Yellow could file for bankruptcy as soon as this week – it would be the biggest trucking company collapse in the US – and that customers were leaving the carrier. Earlier in the week, it was reported that Yellow had stopped picking up freight.

But with freight shipments and freight rates down from the pandemic boom, other trucking companies are already scrambling to pick up the business, and Yellow’s customers are scrambling to ship with other carriers. That transition is already well underway.

Yellow, which moved freight for all kinds of businesses, including the biggest retailers Walmart and Amazon, is or was the third-largest less-than-truckload carrier with over 12,000 trucks, and nearly 30,000 employees, including about 22,000 Teamsters members.

The Teamsters told union locals in a memo on Friday, cited by the WSJ, to take their tools and personal belongings home to make sure they don’t end up behind locked doors when the company files for bankruptcy, and that the “likelihood that Yellow will survive is increasingly bleak.”

The company has long been in trouble. It tried to expand with a series of huge mergers and acquisitions – in 2003, it bought Roadway for about $1 billion; in 2005 it bought USF for $1.4 billion – that left it burdened with debt. As of Q1, it had $1.47 billion in long-term debt.

Of this debt, $1.27 billion has to be repaid in 2024: $700 million, owed the US government, is due in September 2024; $567 million, owed a group led by PE firm Apollo Global Management, is due in June 2024.

By the end of June, according to a filing with the SEC, it had $100 million in cash, down from $154 million at the end of March and $235 million at the end of December.

Both lenders gave the company some breathing room. The Biden administration waived the requirement that the company maintain certain financial targets through the quarter ended June 30; Apollo gave it through September 30.

To get the support of potential new lenders, it sought to implement structural and operational changes in the spring to make it more competitive, and tried to get the cooperation from the Teamsters union for those changes. But the union blocked those changes.

Yellow filed suit on June 27, accusing the union of blocking those changes. It said that the standoff had cost it $137 million in lost EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes depreciation, and amortization), and that inaction could push the company into liquidation by this summer.

Also in June, the Yellow sought to defer two pension-fund payments of over $50 million. The union threatened to strike. The threat of a strike spooked Yellow’s customers even more, and they switched business to other carriers. On July 23, the company said that it had worked out a deal that would give it 30 days to make the pension payments, which averted a strike.

It’s nothing new that a trucking company files for bankruptcy and gets liquidated. It happens a lot. The biggie came in December 2019, when Celadon filed for bankruptcy, sunk by accounting fraud and the freight recession at the time. This was the largest truckload carrier ever to file for bankruptcy.

What’s new with a Yellow bankruptcy filing and likely liquidation:

  • It would be the biggest trucker bankruptcy ever (with over four times as many trucks as Celadon)
  • It would come three years after the company received a $700-million government bailout
  • The government holds 29.6% of the shares; it got them in lieu of higher market-based interest rates on the bailout loan.
  • The bailout was condemned in maddening detail by the Congressional Oversight Commission.

Back in July 2020, when I lambasted the reeking bailout by Trump’s Treasury Department, I said that the company should have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, instead of being bailed out. I said:

So in the case of YRC, shareholders, creditors, and other stakeholders were bailed out by taxpayers, temporarily. YRC now has $700 million in additional liquidity it can burn through, but then what? It will have an additional $700 million in debt, on top of the debts it already has been struggling with, and it still hasn’t restructured its business and may eventually buckle under all this debt anyway, and head for a restructuring, and then taxpayers can kiss their investment goodbye.

It took only three years.

The bailout was a scandal.

A Special Report by the Congressional Oversight Commission, released on June 27, 2023, shed further light on, among other factors:

  • Yellow’s lobbying efforts to get the bailout;
  • On how executives, directors, and the Teamsters benefitted from the loan;
  • And the fact that the loan never met the terms and conditions of the “national security loan,” under which it was issued.

Below are some excerpts from the June 27 report by the Congressional Oversight Commission. This type of government bailout stuff stinks to high heaven.

The shenanigans to get the bailout:

“Yellow spent $570,000 on lobbying efforts in 2020 compared to zero in 2019, $80,000 in 2018 and $75,000 in 2017.”

“The Commission noted the correlation between lobbying the government and Yellow’s ability to secure a $700 million loan.”

“The Treasury confirmed that several Senators and members of Congress sent letters to Treasury urging them to provide Yellow a loan.”

“Yellow or its lobbyists made contact with multiple Defense Department officials involved in Defense Department’s process for certifying Yellow as a “businesses critical to maintaining national security.” In their communications with the executive branch, lobbyists for Yellow suggested they had been in close touch with White House officials throughout the national security loan process and had discussed how the company employs 24,000 drivers who are part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“Teamsters”) union.”

“In their communications, lobbyists for Yellow also suggested that Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa had reached out to the Trump administration and that Mr. Hoffa was seeking a meeting with the Secretary of Defense to advocate for Yellow’s national security loan application.”

“The documents obtained by the Commission also show that the Treasury had more involvement in the process for designating companies as critical for national security than previously indicated.”

“Defense Department officials were initially prepared to recommend “yes” to certifying Yellow as critical to maintaining national security, despite a Defense Department analysis that indicated that other trucking companies could replace Yellow’s work with the federal government. Defense Department officials notified the Treasury of its likely “yes” recommendation. However, Defense Department officials then changed their recommendation to “no” (and notified the Treasury of this change) due to concerns about a Justice Department lawsuit alleging Yellow had overbilled its services to the Defense Department for years.”

“One day after Defense Department officials notified the Treasury that the Defense Department would likely not certify Yellow as critical to maintaining national security, the Treasury requested an urgent call with Secretary Esper, which took place on June 26, 2020. Secretary Esper certified Yellow as critical to maintaining national security the same day as the call, June 26, 2020, and the Treasury finalized the loan to Yellow on July 7, 2020.”

How executives and Teamsters benefited directly from the bailout.

The report shows how Yellow’s executive officers, directors, and the Teamsters benefited “from Yellow’s status as a going concern due to Treasury’s national security loan.” The report notes that executives and directors owned shares, bought shares, and received additional stock grants just before and after the bailout. As a result of the bailout, they made huge gains: From May 2020 through December 2021, the share price multiplied by 10, from $1.40 to $14.50.

“Yellow’s reporting officers and directors had Yellow stock holdings—in some cases substantial holdings—which they stood to lose in the event of a Yellow bankruptcy. They benefitted from Yellow avoiding bankruptcy and also from the rise in Yellow’s stock price that occurred in the months after Treasury’s loan to Yellow.”

From February 1, 2020 through July 22, 2022, “20 officers and directors were awarded 3.06 million shares of common stock with an unrealized value of $12.34 million.”

“The Teamsters also benefitted from the Treasury’s national security loan to Yellow. The loan enabled Yellow to pay off certain pension and healthcare obligations to the Teamsters and likely prevented Yellow from going bankrupt.”

“Before Yellow obtained this loan, it deferred millions of dollars of pension and healthcare payments for its largely unionized workforce for March, April, and May 2020. In April 2020, Yellow ‘told a large multiemployer health-care fund that the missed contributions would be paid once Yellow received’ a loan from the Treasury. On July 1, 2020, Yellow’s CEO, Darren Hawkins, stated that the funds from the Treasury would allow the company to pay off three months of missed pension and healthcare payments, which were “roughly $40 million a month.” On or around July 2, 2020, after Treasury announced its intent to provide a loan to Yellow, the company began to repay some of these missed payments.”

“In addition, the Teamsters hold a direct interest in Yellow as a result of the Teamsters’ ownership of Series A Preferred Stock. Yellow issued one share of Yellow’s Series A Preferred stock on July 22, 2011 to the Teamsters ‘to confer certain board representation rights.’ This share is valuable to the Teamsters because as the holder of this share the Teamsters are permitted to appoint two directors to Yellow’s board of directors.”

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  158 comments for “Trucker Yellow Shuts Down, to File for Bankruptcy, 3 Years after $700-Million Government Bailout that Stank to High Heaven

  1. Hal Pine says:

    The long and winding road to bankruptcy.

    • Harrold says:

      Good. Let subsidized companies go under, so hard working competitors have a boot removed from their neck. Hopefully now the industry will be stronger and make enough to pay for itself legitimately.

      • joe2 says:

        Boot from the neck, Ha. You run a company or just talk?

        just got a demand for payment of a $10 fine on a disputed $8 tax payment. $50 fee to exist. Need for 2 more new licenses on the same business.

        Just the past week. You want more – required insurance, licenses, fees, income taxes without income – I got it.

        • joedideep says:

          nickel and dime
          setting up shop in official business space
          not if I can help it
          work out of my house, but take no deductions for office, etc(red flag for IRS and hassle when you sell your home since now IRS thinks home office deduction being BUSINESS is now taxable at 25% rate when you sell)
          the few thousand I could use for deductions don’t outway loss of time and tax $$ down road IF I SELL OUR HOME

  2. Aaron says:


  3. Gary says:

    I don’t understand why a government bailout going bad is a problem. Our economy is based upon various government incentives for companies to locate in an area, etc. Further we have the “Inflation Reduction Act” that is basically a type of corporate welfare. In the financial industry there are a dizzying number of alphabet soup Federal Reserve, Treasury, FDIC, etc. interventions. The Government and Federal Reserve centrally plan the entire economy; however, it seems unfair to hold them to a 100% success standard when they are “bailing out,” a term that includes some serious bankruptcy level failure.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “I don’t understand why a government bailout going bad is a problem.”

      The problem was the BAILOUT in July 2020 – and not that it’s going bad now. And I said that in July 2020, at the time of the bailout:

      Yellow (YRC at the time) should have filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Would have saved everyone a lot of money and anguish, at the expense of the executives, directors, and Teamsters union.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        not to be totally cynical re GUV MINT at ALL levels, etc., Wolf,
        realistically, IF the yellow folks did the BK back then, the various C-suite folks, not to mention the DC lobby folks, and especially not to mention the politician puppets would NOT have received their bribes or any other of the corruption now so endemic in USA that nothing can get done without it…
        Nothings going nowhere toward actual equality until the GUV MINT is made to march to the exact same drummer as ALL of WE the PEONs however unlikely.

        • joedidee says:

          The loan enabled Yellow to pay off certain pension and healthcare obligations to the Teamsters
          there you go

    • bulfinch says:

      It’s lemon socialism, which sucks — there’s even a handy titular element in this case…

    • elbowwilham says:

      In my industry, the winners and losers are now decided by access to .gov money. Thankfully I’ll be getting out in 5 years.

    • joe2 says:

      They government agencies shouldn’t exist. I scanned the Constitution and did not find corporate subsidies anywhere.

      As I recall government/corporate collusion is the definition of fascism.

      • Marc says:

        Post Roads – transportation subsidy
        Post Offices – communication subsidy
        Speedy Trial – legal subsidy
        Customs Duty – competitive subsidy
        I’m sure there are others, those just come to mind

      • NBay says:

        Why are their more lobbyists than there are congress critters? And why do they have free run of the capitol? And are even on the congressional ball teams?

        Are the just Very EXPENSIVE “observers” of government for the corporations, or do you think maybe there is a little “collusion”, too?

        Oh yeah, are lobbyists in the Constitution? Are “agencies’ like the DOD?

    • Marie says:

      The government does not produce anything of value. It only redistributes wealth from the private sector and wastes most of it. There’s no free government money. It comes out of explicit taxes, or implicit taxes, like inflation and debts.

      • JamesO says:

        ok so you don’t fly, use the interstate, depend on water resource infrastructure, care about efficacy and safety of pharmaceuticals, don’t have a passport, etc, etc, wow …

        keep talking nonsense

        • NBay says:

          She is one of those “rugged individuals”, but totally “free”…..but all in her own programmed “mind”.

      • Alan says:

        Trump’s government, that is.

  4. rodolfo says:

    Government will surely step in with zero interest financing

    • Rohry says:

      You’re probably being sarcastic, but there will be no no “refinancing” at all…they are doing Chapter 7.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      LOL. Current government is pissed off that the bailout ever happened and that it now has to deal with this mess that it was handed. Bankruptcy works just fine.

      • Flashman says:

        Best investments in the financial universe, lobbying and influence peddling. Seems to return about $100 for every dollar spent. Oh, I forgot financial crimes like Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

        • MoreCreativeMatt says:

          They got a $700m loan from $570k in lobbying expenses, so better than a 1000x return.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, I’m always amazed by just how cheap these people are. You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to get $700 million. The same thing in corruption cases where the FBI actually nails someone. It’s always minuscule amounts for huge favors.

      • Blam35 says:

        But how does YRC, w the largest economies of scale, during the largest time of pricing power for.logistics systems like 2016 thru 2021, not have adequate operating revenue. I guess the acquisition debt and legacy cost ate their lunch but I guess they overpaid and were poorly run.

        • Whatsmynameagain says:

          Wolf goes over a lot of the timeline in the article. I’m going to speculate which is never safe, that because loans were due to be paid in 2024 and they were looking for potential new lenders, as Wolf mentioned, that interest rates were a factor too. Ie, they overloaded with debt at a time of low interest and they expected to be able to roll over those debts into new low interest loans when balloon payments came due, and now suddenly rolling over massive amounts of debt creates even more massive amounts of debt, because of higher interest rates.

          I remember reading in early 2022 about the many big companies, some of them household names, that had taken on or been saddled with massive debt loads that, with a slight interest rate increase (if not already at the time), would see the interest payments exceed the company’s annual revenue, making it likely that we’d see multiple spectacular bankruptcies in the years ahead.

        • c_heale says:

          Thames Water (which is the water supplier to London) is now in this situation, having taken out large loans to pay dividends.

  5. Dirty Work says:

    simply maddening.

  6. LIFO says:

    Footnote 19 of the Special Report of the Congressional Oversight Committee, the members of the House and Senate who wrote letters on behalf of the company are identified. Almost all of them are Democrats. Wow, it looks like another bipartisan scandal.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, Trump got some support from Democrats for this bailout.

    • Jeanne lener says:

      Where can we get their names

    • Apple says:

      Art of the Deal.

    • Debt-Free-Bubba says:

      Howdy LIFO and folks. Sorry for this political comment Mr Wolf. There is no two party system. Especially with the Federal Government. The back and forth between the Dems and GOP is showmanship. Their GOD and mission is the Golden Goose……

      • J.Gerty says:

        Ummm, more like the Golden Fleece. :>)

      • nick kelly says:

        True but there are degrees of everything. Why does 666 Fifth Avenue, near foreclosure, after having been turned down by every US investor suddenly get bailed out by Qatar, which then magically has its Saudi /UAE blockade lifted?

    • CCCB says:

      LOL, I was wondering how long it would take for all the partisan commenters to start blaming the other political side for this. Politics is all about money.

      You can buy a lot of very valuable votes with just a little money, as Wolf said. Let’s hope they never figure out how much their “vvv” votes are really worth or we’ll have real inflation then.

  7. perpetual perp says:

    Typical vulture capital methodology of vacuuming cash while piling debt on a target company until it goes broke. Private Equity (PE)? Guess who made his bones that way. JPowell.

  8. perpetual perp says:

    Typical vulture equity methodology. Pile debt on the targeted company while vacuuming out cash to the executives and the PE firm until the outfit goes belly up. Both parties are complicit in this stuff. Guess where JPowell made his bones? Vulture firm. “After leaving Carlyle, Powell founded Severn Capital Partners, a private investment firm focused on specialty finance and opportunistic investments in the industrial sector.” –Wiki–

  9. John H. says:

    A modern-day example of Shumpeter’s “creative destruction?”

    Make’s you wonder how many dead-wood companies are similarly weakening the industries in which they operate.

    Any politician or bureaucrat who proposes a taxpayer-financed bailout should have to supply a hank of rope with the bill or proposal…. for future use in hanging the proposer if the company fails.

    Excellent reporting.

  10. Brooks says:

    So the teamsters benefited by getting their workers pension funded and preferred stock in a worthless company?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Its value skyrocketed 10x as a result of the bailout. Look at the stock. It went from $1.40 in May 2020 (before the bailout) to $14.50 by Dec 2021. It took three years to burn through the $700 million.

      • Brooks says:

        I didn’t see any report of the teamsters selling their stock, so again its a moot point.

        I the government trying to save 30k jobs. I support that. Could it have been done better with guardrails in place to make sure they didn’t go under? Of Course.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “…the government trying to save 30k jobs. I support that”

          So let me just repeat what I said just below:

          And when a trucking company shuts down, other trucking companies that pick up the business also pick up most of the drivers. It’s not the end of the world. This country runs on trucks and drivers. There is always demand — just more sometimes and less other times.

    • Loeden says:

      I’m with you on this one. A company that grew irresponsibly and was managed poorly was prevented from eating up the employees to survive. Trucking has increasingly become an industry where it’s much harder to make a good living (along with railroading and parcel services and similar jobs) because the profits must be protected but at the end of the day, I feel it’s inappropriate to use employee pension funds and benefits as a piggy bank. The teamsters have members who are out of work that they tried to advocate for until the end. None of us can help it when poor management and stewardship of a company throws away our hard work.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        There was a driver shortage in late 2020 and throughout 2021 and maybe into 2022. Good drivers would have found work with big-name trucking companies.

        And when a trucking company shuts down, other trucking companies that pick up the business also pick up most of the drivers. It’s not the end of the world. This country runs on trucks and drivers. There is always demand — just more sometimes and less other times.

        • Trucker Guy says:

          I get where you’re coming from but I’m still in defense of the Teamsters on this one. The trucking industry is an absolute utter shit show for employees. Before I went union I was working 3 month on in a truck, getting 3 days off, and lucky to clear 45k gross income after a year. 75-85hrs a week working, months never leaving the truck for 50 weeks a year. And 45k before taxes?

          I wish the slave driver companies would drown. I don’t like to see a respectable LTL company go under. I never worked for YRC or yellow, but I know most LTL jobs and Teamsters gigs at least let you make a living in what is one of the worst industries in the US.

          I know from a historical perspective the Teamsters are looked down upon. But nowadays, given who they’re fighting against, they could get away with murder and I’d be inclined to look the other way. The driver shortage is because the Teamsters don’t have the influence they should have. When you have companies like CR England and JB Hunt as the big heavy hitters in the trucking world and if you know anything at all about the way they run; you’d see why any reasonable person will give the Teamsters a mile of wiggle room.

        • Gattopardo says:


          “I was working 3 month on in a truck, getting 3 days off, and lucky to clear 45k gross income after a year. 75-85hrs a week working, months never leaving the truck for 50 weeks a year. And 45k before taxes?”

          Why did you do it, then? You sound like. a sharp guy, very employable in other jobs.

        • Trucker Guy says:

          I got out of OTR at a mega carrier. I’m still gear jamming, and I still hate it. But I don’t live in the truck anymore and I make double what I used to.

          I also put up with how much I hate the job because I hate dealing with people far more.

        • Mitry says:

          Gattopardo: Maybe he felt motivated at first, management made some promises and he decided to put the time in. I think the point is he got hustled, realized there was nothing he could do, and years later there’s this sense of justice in seeing an unscrupulous freight carrier finally go under.

        • eg says:

          I certainly have a ton more sympathy for the working stiffs than the management, Trucker Guy, so I’m with you on this one.

  11. 2banana says:

    How does the Biden $36 billion for private unions, mostly teamsters, pension fund bailout play into all of this?

  12. Earl says:

    Wolf this is a great article. It prompted me to consult the internet to learn more. It may be that Apollo’s loan is collateralized by Yellow’s assets in contrast to the U.S.’ share that is stock (now worthless) backed. I also learned that Apollo through its insurance investment affiliate, Athene, is a major player in the Pension Risk Transfer market (PRT). One site I consulted said that Athene has purchased the pension plans of JCPenney, Lockheed Martin, AT&T and Alcoa.

    • old school says:

      Wolfspeed is building a chip plant about 10 miles from me. Wolfspeed loses a lot of money as you can see as they are public company. US government is helping build the multi-billion dollar chip plant. Then I read that Wolfspeed is borrowing about $1 billion from private equity ( I think Apollo ) at 9.75%.

      This public private partnership trend is very suspect.

      • crazytown says:

        It really irritates me how grifting companies like Intel who are traded on the stock market get huge gifts from Uncle Sam just for running their business how it should have been run all along.

        • Z33 says:

          Yep. Not a meritocracy. More inflation and more productivity loss ahead with this type of business.

        • Einhal says:

          Exactly. That’s why I can’t respond seriously to people who say that the government shouldn’t regulate anything. I agree that a free market is best, but we don’t. We have crony capitalism, which is literally the worst of both worlds.

        • Bs ini says:

          From a distance I completely agree that the USA has plenty of examples where they fund unprofitable business ventures or worse social benefits that never end. Government funding for infrastructure and other true economic benefits eventually have financial payouts . We have now entered a phase in our economy where social services and interest on our debt probably exceeds our abilities to pay but as long as the debt can be financed the scheme can continue. Inflationary pressures are growing for sure higher for longer from the Fed will help. Investments in manufacturing for items like chip manufacturing something we need can have an eventual payout so done correctly .

      • Northernlights says:

        I’ve been watching that – I’m in Wake county. Their financials are pretty bad in that they’ve been posting significant losses since 2017.

        The funny thing is that the company that drove the interest in Silicon Carbide chips for power, and speculation in companies like WOLF, is the one that recently said they were aiming to reduce their use by 75% to reduce costs. Three guesses who that is, and (hint, hint) it’s not Rivian or Lucid.

      • perpetual perp says:

        The public–private business looks to be just another way for private agents to suck up what should be public funds. They layer on debt and mismanage the victim in order to enrich themselves. They’re not venture funds, they’re vulture funds. And they thrive because the government regulation agencies have been neutered De-regulate, De-fund, Destroy. “Hello, I’m from Blackrock and I’m here to help you”: The updated version of Reagan’s famous comment about the government.

    • Kiers says:

      Strategic of Apollo not to take an equity position! With Debt, it’s now a player in bankruptcy proceedings! Gets ( a piece? all?) 3rd largest trucker for $600mn. Let Uncle Sam take the bigger loss! That’s how they roll.

  13. w.c.l. says:

    What can I say, investing in politicians still has the best return on investment around.

  14. Rico says:

    It wasn’t a “bailout.” It’s never a “bailout.” The Fed and Government don’t do “bailouts.”
    Is this the start of the the zombie crash and and will it affect the financial system? And will there be more bail……?

    By the way thousands of those teamsters just got crushed. Lost their job and probably their pension.

    • Einhal says:

      First, if the government gives a loan that no one in the private sector is willing to do, that’s a bailout, even if it’s called a “loan.”

      Second, I doubt the Teamsters will lose their pensions. I suspect the Dems will come out and say that it’s unfair for those “hard working families to be punished,” and bail the pension funds out, or transfer the whole obligation to the PBGC, despite the normal limitations.

      • Rico says:

        The Central States Pension fund was already bailed out by Biden.

        But with Yellow Teamsters losing their jobs. You have to have 10 years to be vested, I think. You have to have 25 years to pull a pension or 60 something years old.
        And Yellows Teamsters Pensions we’re already cut 15 years ago when the Teamsters took massive cuts to save the Company.

        • Trucker Guy says:

          My teamster contract is 5 years to get the pension. They take an average of the three highest gross years and pay a percentage based on how many years you worked. You can retire at 65.

          The pension isn’t amazing. I don’t remember specifics but you might max at 40% of your wages if I remember right. Better than a 401(k) in a potentially stagnant economy future e.g. Japan.

          The reason I don’t really know what the pension is like is because this job will kill me long before I make it to 65. There used to be a website that showed industries and life expectancy based on age when you started. A trucker who goes into it like I did at 21 IIRC has a life expectancy of 60 or so. I run exclusively inland northwest. Driving mountains at night in blizzards doesn’t make for a long life. Especially when you’ve got to run hard to get your job done. I’ve ran 70mph on top of 8″ of fresh snow to make ends meet. You ain’t doing that for 40 years without an oppsie calling your number. But it pays well. Not well enough to even buy a home in post-pandemic America as a single income but what can you do.

        • eg says:

          Sounds like the Teamster pension plan takes a page out of Bismarck’s original — the age of eligibility being right around the life expectancy of the average trucker …

      • Zeno says:

        The central states pension fund – teamsters received $35.8B under the American rescue plan.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Doesn’t look like they’ll lose their pension if they’re vested. Those multi-employer pension funds got a huge bailout package on their own recently.

  15. rodolfo says:

    Teamsters been teamstering for a long time. Probably will be gifted something to make the pain more bearable.

  16. AV8R says:

    I wouldn’t expect many drivers to have pension expectations exceeding the PBGC maximum. Even so, this is regrettable on so many levels and Wolf’s unvarnished truth is hard to read without wincing.

    WRT Yellow it is readily apparent there were no virtuous players. The hostage taking of labor by grifting Management, Union and Politician alike was sinful.

    • djreef says:

      I suspect that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and things may be much more difficult for private companies who aren’t protected by a tradable ‘public interest’.

    • Doolittle says:

      A perfect respresentation of how things work in this world, corruption, lies, stealing from the people. To the prior commenter, mark me down for helping fund the company who puts that hank of rope into action.

  17. crazytown says:

    High yield index is still glued to 8% for 12 months now:

    When will this party get started? When a money market is paying over 5%, taking a 3% risk premium on a bunch of junk doesn’t seem prudent to me, but if this blow out to 10 or 11% it will reveal more “Yellows” out there.

    • Einhal says:

      It doesn’t, but investors are convinced that everyone will be bailed out, so they’re not really taking risks.

  18. John Beech says:

    What will be interesting is whether anybody (Congress, SEC?) tries to claw back so much a a penny from those who rewarded themselves with the largess of our government. While Trump’s administration shouldn’t have extended a hand, during COVID a lot fear about the entire economy was afoot. I don’t begrudge them what who warned about going badly, but if the executives who lavished USD$20M on themselves (ditto Teamster upper echelon) get to keep it, I’ll be ticked at the Biden administration.

    • Gattopardo says:

      Then be ticked, because that’s how it’s gonna go.

      • Old Ghost says:

        Being “ticked” is the best bet.

        No Billionaire will be harmed. The employees/Teamsters who were doing the work…………

  19. Djreef says:


  20. Gen Z says:

    Privatize the profits.
    Socialize the losses.

    I’m confident that the top 10% C-suite executives received generous bonuses, severance packages and retirement annuities while the men and women doing the grunt work get laid off and a legal team paid at millions of USD an hour are working hard to reduce unemployment benefits via unlawful dismissals, false claims of termination, etc.

    • Gen Z says:

      Anecdotally, I wish to add that in Canada, mega oligarchies like Loblaws and Rogers-Shaw pay their customer service and general labor close to minimum wage, while the CEOs get millions of dollars a year taxfree salaries disguised as stonk options.

      Heck, even the former Mayor of Toronto John Tory was a gig-like consultant for Rogers and was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

      Meanwhile, the customer service reps and warehouse workers get yelled at, threatened, and sometimes physically assaulted on the premises.

      The Xerox subsidiary in Canada is not immune from such shenanigans. The billionaire American shareholder activist wanted more profits that they hired Managers who caused many female staff to flee the premises in fear.

    • Einhal says:

      Having been in the workforce for years, I consider having the female staff all run for the doors to be a good thing.

  21. Hubberts Curve says:

    There is a big difference between Truckload carriers like Celadon and LTL carriers like Yellow and its subsidiaries. The LTL companies have a large nationwide network of freight terminals, so there is a lot of real estate involved when a big one like Yellow goes down.
    This one makes me sad as I got my first LTL freight account in 1987 with Reddaway Trucking, which years ago became a subsidiary of Yellow. They had a terminal down the street from me and back in those days the salesman and terminal manager would stop in and visit weekly. I was a young guy just starting out in the manufacturing business and they gave me some of the same discounts that the big guys had. The terminal manager also taught me how to manage my freight ” class” to make sure I was not paying too much. The business has changed a lot since then, but its the end of an era for me.

  22. Max Dugan returned says:

    It shows how truly rich we are as a country.
    What a fraudulent waste this was. Add it to the $$ thrown at a stupid border wall and all the resources wasted on an organized crime member allowed to sit as our nations president, and subsidies for nuclear power plants that are passed their expiration date and can’t even turn a profit.

    • Zard says:

      Not so sure about “rich”. We are 32 Trillions dollar in debt and adding more to fuel these kind of bailouts doesn’t make us rich. Corrupt may be.

      • Braincramp says:

        Thank you, Zard, so true.

        Try running your household the way the uniparty funds the bailouts and entitlements and giveaways and shenanigans of the U.S. economy.

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        That $33+ trillion is just the US government federal debt which is a mere ONE-THIRD of the total outstanding debt in the USA. The US is not ‘rich’ at all but rather has been living far beyond its means for the past 50+ years and the bills are now in the mail and due.

        • Einhal says:

          Exactly. We’re like the guy who knows he’s going to file for bankruptcy so he runs up his credit cards and lives like a rock star until the banks realize what is happening and cut him off.

          Our day will come when the rest of the world no longer wants our dollars.

          Yes, I know we’re the cleanest dirty shirt. Yes, I know there’s no replacement for the USD right now as the reserve currency. But things change quickly.

  23. LouisDeLaSmart says:

    If one could compress a lifetime of experience into a 4 year mba degree, then how come we cannot do the same for mathematics and physics? It doesn’t work, does it?…Some things…hmmm…most things simply need their time. But the glitter on this diplomas, o Boy does is shine!!!
    And now we have any army of “I don’t know, and don’t know that I don’t know” with high salaries in positions of power.

    • Gattopardo says:

      Ha! An MBA is only 2 years!

      • LouisDeLaSmart says:

        I know a considerable number of managers who are told “you dont have to know anything about to process, with a few tricks, some logic and an excel sheet you can manage everything.” And then when it all breaks apart, and they look at you like a little kitten…
        I would make certain mba aspects a must for all STEM fields, but I am not sure how much value it can add as a standalone (unless offered to experienced professionals who need this knowledge).

    • vecchio gatto veloce says:

      “Real truth is not malleable. It can only be found by making careful observations. Well-tested laws of physics are important guides to allow you to distinguish truth from the perception of truth.”

      “Real truth could be found if and only if you learn to recognize and use good science. It’s especially true when real truth is politically incorrect and does not reflect political, business aims, or desires of leaders. Even the scientific community can sometimes become diluted by pseudoscience.”

      “Recall, if you want pseudoscience to be true, just simply spin it and it becomes true. Importantly, a good referee must know and use mathematically bases physics.”

      These words were recently spoken, in public, by Dr. John F. Clauser, winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics. These words upset a lot of powerful people.

      Wolf’s written words were telling like it was back in July 2020 regarding YRC Worldwide. His words should have been heeded, but that would have been politically incorrect. They were not, and now there’s a big price to be paid.

      FWIW, Wolf does have an MBA (University of Texas?) & I studied physics at U of MN.

    • robert says:

      Most of the original actual wealth (not financial engineering tricks, but actual wealth, meaning productive profitable assets that employed resident workers) of this country was created by people with primary school education.
      Most of it was blown by people with MBAs chasing quarterly results, employment on foreign soil, and the net wealth became debt.
      Anecdote: Henry Ford was testifying at a trial and was being disparaged for not being an engineer. He replied: “If I need an engineer, I hire one. I’ve got a business to run.”
      Now he wasn’t exactly a financial whiz, the bookkeeping was a little messy and he drove the bookkeepers crazy, but he sure knew how to make money. And employ people.

      • BS ini says:

        Wish there were more engineers available doing the tasks out in the field we don’t have great quality control in my opinion because engineering recommendations are not followed rigidly. Good example is the condo collapse in Florida a couple of years ago when structural engineers had recommend repairs but the individual owners did not implement.

  24. seb says:

    “When plunder becomes a way of life, men create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

    Frederic Bastiat

  25. SoCalBeachDude says:

    Has the Department of Transportation released a statement regarding the failure of this company which is supposedly the third largest shipping in the USA? Will its failure adversely affect interstate commerce in the US? Why was the shutdown so sudden?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yellow’s customers are already switching or have switched some time ago to other carriers. In addition, other carriers will pick up the good drivers. Trucking will keep on trucking. This is a good time for the shutdown: freight volume has dropped substantially from the peak during the pandemic.

  26. Random guy 62 says:

    Good riddance. Overall, it is a good thing when a zombie bites the dust.

    Truck transportation and LTLs are still viable industries so their employees will land on their feet, taking their skills to similar positions elsewhere. The other carriers will buy a few terminals and rigs for a discount, shippers will move their business to one or more of a dozen other choices. That’s how this whole “free market” thing is supposed to work.

  27. DougP says:

    With Leon Black involved, is anyone really all that surprised?

  28. 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

    …again, Wolf, not enough thanks for your consistently outstanding reporting (and, sadly, more confirmation that our national acquiescence-acceptance of, nay, participation with K Street appears as the true BOD of the country, inherent greed/banality/incompetence and all…).

    may we all find a better day.

  29. Braincramp says:

    So you’re an eight or ten-year member of the Teamsters at Yellow. You probably JUST started making the full inflated-union wages, with the promise of a pension and health care for life down the line.

    Oops, now due at least partly to the mismanagement and likely greed/corruption of your union, you not only don’t have your high paying job you have NO job. Thanks, Teamsters.

    • Debt-Free-Bubba says:

      Howdy Braincramp. I wonder how much the Teamster union owns? Buildings, union properties, $$$ for rep members, vegas holdings???

    • Trucker Guy says:

      This isn’t true at least for my Teamsters hall. If the company goes bust you can get on an out of work list and still stay in good standing with the union. I could quit and go to another Teamsters gig in this area and it would reset my seniority at the job and other issues but the pension is 5 years paying dues. Doesn’t matter if you are at one company or another. Only difference is wages, seniority, and stewards.

      Also, there are a mountain of Teamsters trucking jobs that absolutely suck to do. I’m in one of them. Only UPS and line haul are the golden boy relatively pampered positions. Most Teamsters trucking jobs are stuff like food service, garbage, rendering, P&D, etc.

      Work 14 hours a day unloading 80lb boxes of food off tractor trailer by hand trucks and then stack it and sort it into a restaurant year round for 60-70 hours a week and tell me you don’t deserve 90k a year. Or work 60-70 hours a week loading 400lb 55 gallon drums of rotting animal carcasses year around into a dump trailer and tell me you don’t deserve Teamsters representation sticking it to management who would gladly pay you 15 dollars an hour and screw over your overtime and benefits.

      I’ve worked trucking jobs like this in the South where “durr union bad! ooga booga!” And I’ve worked the same job as a Teamster. I’ll never work another trucking job that isn’t union ever again.

      I guess most truckers probably aren’t the type to read a site as intellectually stimulating as Wolf’s and I doubt most people who post here have experience in the trucking world as a trucker but the Teamsters are a silver lining to a very dark cloud.

      • William Leake says:

        I have noticed that, in general, the more physically demanding the job, the less the worker gets paid (excluding professional sports, of course).

      • Debt-Free-Bubba says:

        Howdy Trucker Guy. Doubt you would get any sympathy from a non union midwest roofer / laborer…

      • DR DOOM says:

        Trucker Guy. All my shit that keeps me going is brought by trucks. It ain’t much thanks but I block ass-hole 4-wheelers regularly that knowingly or un-knowingly keep truckers from merging on the Smokey Park Bridge in Asheville N.C. onto to I-26 North toward Johnson City Tenn. The Road Signs suck on the approach to the bridge and they ain’t much roadway to work with after the signs. I slow’em down so every-body,including me can be safe and truckers can keep my shit coming.

    • DownFed says:

      I think the pension fund is multi-employer. There is a good chance that those drivers will get jobs elsewhere, because the freight being carried by Yellow now needs to be transported by someone else.

    • OutsideTheBox says:

      Management runs the company, makes the financial decisions and it ultimately is responsible for the success or failure of the
      The Teamsters are just another vendor.

      • kramartini says:

        No. The Teamsters have legal rights unlike other vendors. Management can’t easily take their business elsewhere. And the union contract is hard to set aside in a reorganization which may explain why Yellow is liquidating.

  30. Fed Up says:

    US Government picking winners and losers. Gifting 700 billion to the house of cards already falling down. Makes my blood boil just reading how this all unfolded, we have bridges, roads, and infrastructure falling down in the US and the bureaucracy keeps up the Ponzi scheme. Quietly Americans will keep about their daily lives, while there’s no accountability in Washington, DC. Too whom much is given, much is required.

  31. SoCalBeachDude says:

    It appears that the major issue that Yellow had was charging too little money for their services to break even or be financially profitable and it should have raised its prices considerably to be a viable concern.

    • Random guy 62 says:

      Was thinking the same thing. Some saying they were known for lower prices. And union tends to mean higher cost structure. Those two things are not compatiablr. So why not try to carve out a different niche?

  32. unamused says:

    Even money that is completely wasted counts towards GDP.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The $700 million didn’t count toward GDP when it was given out. But when Yellow spent some of it on equipment, it counted; and when Yellow paid wages with it, and the workers then spent those wages on goods and services, their spending counted.

  33. Fallen Jester says:

    I think there may be a typo. I think the Teamsters guy is/was James Hoffa. Jimmy Hoffa supposedly had an accident a few years back.

    Sorry if it was intended as a joke. I kept looking for the punchline…but didnt see one besides 700 million to a dead company.

  34. Finster says:

    “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

    “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

    Ernest Hemingway
    The Sun Also Rises

  35. Olivier says:

    Since when is this web site anti-union? Some federal pork going to workers instead of (or alongside) executives is a welcome change.

    • Debt-Free-Bubba says:

      Howdy Oliver Can only type for myself, Government picking winners and losers is what this is.

      • Occam says:

        No failing business in the US would ever have to terminate and liquidate in Chapter 7 bankruptcy if the Fed were so inclined. All the Fed would need to do is form a captive SPV, create a few trillion dollars from thin air, lend the dollars to the SPV, and have the SPV act as a DIP lender in reorganizations of all failing businesses under Chapter 11. The automobile industry bailouts during the GFC worked this way, IIRC. Government picks winners and losers all of the time; politics determine the winners. The free market is the ultimate democracy; millions of people voting with trillions of dollars to decide the superior providers of products and services in real time every day. Politicians frequently dislike the outcomes of free market elections, and so here we are in fiat-bailout world, and we’re never going back.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      This website is anti-bailout by taxpayers. Has always been. Doesn’t matter who gets bailed out.

      • unamused says:

        So much for Schumpeterian ‘creative destruction’: losers are supposed to take their losses, not be rewarded for mismanagement, malinvestment, and so forth. There’s a certain moral hazard in profiting by bankrupting companies, economic contradictions notwithstanding.

        How much does GDP go up if one accounts for the debt incurred to get the money to spend to increase it? I want to see a balance sheet, not just the expenditures.

      • Olivier says:


        The problem with this stance is that you argue from it that the entire social safety net should be dismantled: let us return to 19th century conditions for workers!

        Besides, as things stand now, if the bailout had not enabled Yellow to make good on its pension obligations, wouldn’t the Pension Fund Guaranty Corporation have had to pick up the tab ultimately and wouldn’t that amount to a bailout of sorts in your eyes, too?

        • Olivier says:

          Sorry, typo: you argue => you could argue

        • Wolf Richter says:


          “…you argue from it that the entire social safety net should be dismantled: let us return to 19th century conditions for workers!”

          That statement is braindead stupid-ass idiotic bullshit. The bailout of a publicly traded corporation has zero do with the social safety net provided by the government. That’s just absurd. Did you microwave your brain this morning?

      • Bs ini says:

        Well said Wolf
        Anti government subsidies!

    • Einhal says:

      Deal with some unions, especially public sector ones, in very blue areas like NYC or California and you’ll see why.

    • eg says:

      Olivier, I don’t read the site itself as anti-union, but there are certainly those in the comments who are. I am not one of them.

      • I Can't Do That Dave says:

        Yep, I think it’s pretty easy to jump to conclusions and infer that the site itself is hard right/Libertarian based on the comments section. I’m here not so much for the comments but Wolf’s excellent charts and analysis which I consider apolitical.

  36. Beg4mercy says:

    Where are the trucks game?

    From 2021

    Yellow, formerly YRC, plans to buy some 2,400 tractors (mostly Class 8) and 3,700 trailers this year, Interim CFO Dan Olivier said on an earnings call Wednesday. In Q1, the company took delivery of 1,100 tractors and 1,600 trailers, he said.

    I’ve Recently have seen a huge amount of new trailers (50+) parked in a massive unused parking area in Madison. It seemed strange they suddenly showed up.

    I’ve been curious for about 3 months, but with this bankruptcy, makes me think somebody had a potential tip about this. The logos on these trailers are for Paper Transport. I’m not suggesting anything here, but it remains a curiosity. But, then again, I’m a curious tax payer and wonder if this is related?

  37. Mitry says:

    Hey Wolf, is there any way to know which, “Senators and members of Congress sent letters to Treasury urging them to provide Yellow a loan”?

  38. SpencerG says:

    That is a shame. I used YRC for a few shipping projects over the past three years… although I switched to a different company for this last project. I found YRC easy to deal with and professional about picking up.

  39. Swamp Creature says:

    I think I’m going to read the book “The Wreck of the Penn Central Railroad” again. This sounds similar.

  40. phleep says:

    From Margin Call, banker Will Emerson:
    ” … People wanna live like this with their cars and big f***in’ houses they can’t even pay for …. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is because we got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off and then the whole world gets really f***in’ fair [feral?] really f***in’ quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don’t. They want what we have to give them but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. Well, that’s more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow, so f*** ’em. …”

  41. Shiloh1 says:

    Who gets to pay for the cleanup costs on there hundreds of ancient underground fuel storage tanks?

    • unamused says:

      Future generations, if any. They’re not complaining, they’re not protesting, and they don’t vote. It’s easy to externalize costs onto people who don’t exist yet.

      Too bad AI has made them obsolete. Boy, won’t they be surprised.

  42. Nemo300BLK says:

    There’s nothing of value left for this company. Their facilities are dilapidated, and their tractors and trailers are barely road worthy.

    I know a driver in SC who cleaned out and said goodbye to his 2006 International day cab. Their trailers are suitable for storage purposes only.

  43. Anon1970 says:

    Government bailouts usually stink to high heaven, so why should the Yellow bailout have been any different.

  44. cresus says:

    I can only imagine how much of the government funds were stolen thru bonuses and pensions just before the fall.

  45. dishonest says:

    “The Treasury confirmed that several Senators and members of Congress sent letters to Treasury urging them to provide Yellow a loan.”

    Do these fellows have names? Maybe we could vote for them.

  46. kramartini says:

    The Teamsters’ willingness to let Yellow go under no doubt strengthened their hand in their negotiations with UPS.

  47. Fred says:

    Another company ruined by criminal management and teamsters. As a taxpayer, I want my money back.

  48. IronForge says:

    Like most of us here, I’m just another Casual Observer:

    Looks like their Mgmt are in for a “Soft Parachute Landing” while Corporate Physical Assets get “Bought Up” in whole or in portions via Court/Arbitration Sales by either Major Logistics Actors AMZN, FedEx, DHL, Major Customers Walmart and Home Depot, and/or Regional/Renegade/Foreign Freight Actors.

    Pension and Healthcare Funding for 30K Employees – just went into turmoil.

    Will the Fed+StateGovts intervene and protect 30K Employee Pensions and Healthcare Packages? Is it due time to entertain such Actions? Senator Sanders Sold Out his “Medicare Option for All” Position (which would have ended the ‘For Profit’ Health Insurance/HMO Actors and forced them to become Non-Profits without 9-figure Comp Pkgs to Non-MD Administrative Execs) to Brandon…

    Wildcard Option:
    Will the Employees come up with a Buyout Plan of their Own?

    Just a few thoughts…

  49. RichardW says:

    What’s happening? Yellow shares have surged from about 50c a few days ago to $3 today! Are investors (sorry, speculators) hoping for a buy out? Is it just another meme stock mania? It seems like stopping operations and being on the the verge of bankruptcy are the best things to happen to the company in months.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Meme-stock players. Hedge funds in it too. For them, it’s just a pump-and-dump video game played out via the social media. Drive up the price then sell to some other players and get out. There will be a gazillion people that will have YELL in their account when it doesn’t trade anymore, and they cannot sell it. When they get tired of looking at the dead shares after a few years, they’ll have to ask their broker to remove the shares from their account.

      BBBY went through this too. Shares are still trading over the counter at $0.28. But the company is being liquidated in court, and the shares don’t represent anything anymore because the ownership has changed from shareholders to creditors, and these creditors are now selling the pieces. For example, Overstock bought the brand name (“Bed Bath & Beyond”) for a few million bucks. These stock jockeys are just shuffling these worthless shares amongst each other until they get tired of it.

      • RichardW says:

        Thanks for the explanation, Wolf. I guess the victims don’t realise that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Or maybe they do and everyone is hoping to sell to a greater fool.

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