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One of the largest trucking companies in the U.S. is facing new financial strains that could jeopardize health insurance coverage for thousands of its workers in the midst of a pandemic.

YRC Worldwide Inc., which slashed expenses and struck a deal with lenders to improve liquidity during the crisis, skipped March payments to funds that provide medical and other benefits to its unionized workers. The company has asked to defer millions of dollars in payments for March, April and May, and interim agreements with some funds to cover employees now are set to end next month.

A spokesman for Overland Park, Kan.-based YRC said the company is working with the funds and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, which represents more than three-quarters of YRC’s workforce, to ensure employees “have uninterrupted access to healthcare benefits.”

“The Company has asked the funds to basically keep providing health care to our members, while it gets its cash flow sorted out in the short term,” Ernie Soehl, the Teamsters national freight director, said in a May 29 memo to members, adding: “We have made it clear that we simply cannot have our members working without health care coverage.”

YRC is the fifth-largest U.S. trucking company and the fourth-largest less-than-truckload shipping, or LTL, provider by 2019 revenue, according to transportation research provider SJ Consulting Group Inc.

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– Our previous coverage about YRC’s weakening financial position can be found here.

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