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Rail News: Labor

CN, CAW reach tentative agreements, set stage to end strike

The Canadian Auto Workers' (CAW) 25-day-old strike against Canadian National Railway Co. will continue, but an end is in sight. On March 15, CN announced the parties had reached new tentative three-year collective agreements over the weekend.

The agreements include annual 3 percent wage increases; a $1,000 return-to-work bonus for all striking members; a CN commitment to increase workers' pension formula to 1.8 percent; improvements to afternoon and midnight shift differentials, and vision care; an end to CN's recently instituted discipline system and return to the system in place prior to Jan. 1, 2001; and no disciplinary action to striking workers.

The union expects to schedule a ratification vote by Wednesday and release vote results by Friday. The strike will remain in effect until agreements are ratified, according to a prepared statement.

On March 10, CN officials presented CAW representatives three options to resolve their wage and benefit dispute, and end the strike: a good-faith cooling-off period during which striking employees would return to work while CN and union officials resumed negotiations; binding arbitration; or CAW submitting a final offer for a ratification vote. Union officials rejected the first two options and backed the latter.

CAW — which represents 5,000 CN intermodal, shopcraft and clerical employees — initiated a strike Feb. 20 after union representatives rejected tentative agreements reached in January and efforts to negotiate new agreements failed. Previous contracts expired Dec. 31, 2003.

CN also reached a tentative agreement with CAW-represented owner/operator truck drivers, who are not on strike.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/15/2004