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Rail News: Labor

CN, CAW resume negotiations, but strike expected to enter third week

Today, Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) officials, and a federal mediator plan to return to the negotiating table to try and resolve the nearly two-week-old strike. However, union officials doubt any new agreement could be reached, then voted on and approved by members this week — meaning the strike likely will continue the week of March 8.

On Feb. 27, union officials presented CN their proposal, which includes more than 3 percent wage increases, retiree benefit improvements, and extended health and vision care, as well as a shift differential, weekend premium and immediate signing bonus based on a to-be-determined wage system.

Later, CN President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison proposed four alternatives: The railroad provide a 3 percent wage increase each of the next three years and a lump-sum non-pensionable bonus based on a to-be-determined formula; a four-year agreement under which wages will increase 3 percent the first three years and 4 percent the final year, and the same bonus will be provided; or the strike continues without either party changing their position for the indefinite future; or the parties resort to non-binding arbitration under which a third party could recommend, but not impose, a resolution.

Union officials initiated the strike Feb. 20 after they rejected tentative CN agreements reached in January and efforts to negotiate new agreements failed. Previous contracts expired Dec. 31, 2003. CAW represents about 5,000 CN shopcraft, clerical and intermodal yard workers.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/3/2004