Yellow Corp. Bankruptcy: A Collision of Corporate Failure and Union Relations

Dan Nicholson

Yellow Corp.'s recent bankruptcy declaration has generated a flurry of discourse and debate. 

A trucking titan with close to a century of history, Yellow's unexpected tumble into bankruptcy has left approximately 30,000 employees in the cold and raised significant questions about the company's management and the role played by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union.

The Background

Yellow Corp., a key player in the "less-than-truckload" sector, has always juggled the challenges of consolidating shipments from various clients into single truckloads. Until their halt in operations, they commanded between 8% to 10% of the market share and had a wide-ranging clientele that encompassed big-name retailers like Walmart and Home Depot, as well as manufacturers and Uber Freight.

The Downward Spiral

A combination of factors pushed Yellow into bankruptcy:

  • Acquisition-related debt: Yellow's aggressive buying streak in the early 2000s took a toll on their finances, loading them with significant debt.
  • Operational costs: The company grappled with the cost-intensive process of managing numerous subsidiary firms.
  • Low shipping rates: This factor resulted in diminished revenue, further straining Yellow's resources.

With Yellow falling into $2.59 billion in total debt we see a sharp contrast to their total assets estimated at $2.15 billion find themselves in hot water.

The Blame Game

The bankruptcy revelation was soon overshadowed by the blame game between Yellow's management and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Yellow CEO, Darren Hawkins, blamed the company's financial woes squarely on the union, claiming they disrupted the company's operations. The Teamsters fired back, attributing Yellow's downfall to executive incompetence and misuse of funds.

In the tussle, the Teamsters were vocal about the company's mishandling of a substantial $700 million government bailout. The union argued that Yellow's management prioritized its own interests over the company's well-being, using the financial crisis as leverage to force concessions from its workforce.

Debt Landscape and Implications for the U.S. Government

Yellow's financial obligations extended beyond its internal strife with the Teamsters. Their commitment to pay off a $700 million loan, extended by the Trump administration in 2020 under pandemic relief, hangs in the balance. While Yellow intends to liquidate assets, including properties and approximately 12,000 trucks, the process is complex.

Furthermore, the U.S. Treasury's 31% stake in Yellow, taken as security for the loan, puts taxpayers at risk. If Yellow's assets are insufficient to cover its debts, the government, and by extension, taxpayers, may have to foot the bill.

A Fractured Workforce

Yellow's bankruptcy didn't just unsettle the financial world; it sent shockwaves through its massive workforce. Not only were thousands left jobless, but Yellow also faces lawsuits from employees accusing the company of flouting laws by not providing a mandatory 60-day firing notice.


The bankruptcy of Yellow Corp. isn't just the story of a corporate giant's fall. It intertwines intricate issues of management decisions, union relations, government interventions, and the broader implications for thousands of families whose livelihoods are in jeopardy. As this story continues to unfold, it serves as a stark reminder of the intricacies and fragilities of the modern corporate world.




Dan Nicholson is the author of “Rigging the Game: How to Achieve Financial Certainty, Navigate Risk and Make Money on Your Own Terms,” deemed a best-seller by USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to founding the award-winning accounting and financial consulting firm Nth Degree CPAs, Dan has created and run multiple small businesses, including Certainty U and the Certified Certainty Advisor program.

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