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Rail News: Labor

Electrical workers union strike won't affect rail operations, CN says

If the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) launches a strike at midnight tomorrow as promised, Canadian National Railway Co. plans to be prepared to maintain normal rail operations.

CN officials believe their contract offer is “fair and reasonable,” and that the IBEW is pressing for benefits “well beyond those contained in collective agreements successfully negotiated with unions representing other CN workers and with our competitors in Canada,” according to a prepared statement.

CN officials plan to continue negotiating a settlement before the strike deadline. Officials offered to enter into binding third-party arbitration with the IBEW, but the union — which represents 644 of the railroad’s electrical workers — rejected the offer, CN said. The previous contract between CN and IBEW expired Dec. 31, 2003.

If a labor disruption occurs, CN plans to operate its normal rail freight schedule, and maintain safety and service levels. During a four-week Canadian Auto Workers strike last year, CN maintained normal freight schedules by using management staff.

Meanwhile, Canadian Minister of Labor and Housing Joe Fontana appointed two mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help spur negotiations between CN and IBEW officials, and try to avert a work stoppage. The mediators will meet with CN and union officials today.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/24/2005