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5/16/2005



Rail News: Labor

CN hammers out tentative deal with Teamsters, braces for hammer to drop on union's proposed strike



On Friday, Canadian National Railway Co. announced it reached a tentative four-year agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) covering locomotive engineers at CN’s Northern Quebec Territory. Details on the contract — which would replace a pact that expired April 30 — weren’t released pending ratification.

That was CN’s good labor news for the day. Hours later, the Class I received the bad news: TCRC issued a notice stating that all 1,750 union-represented engineers at CN will strike the Class I shortly after midnight May 18.

The union is pursuing a strike because contract negotiations have failed after 19 months of bargaining, TCRC officials said in a prepared statement. The previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2003.

“There are a number of contentious issues, including the company’s decision to discontinue the employee gain-sharing plan for our members while CN continues posting record profits,” said TCRC President Gilles Hallé, who led the negotiations for the union, which also represents workers at Canadian Pacific Railway, VIA Rail Canada Inc. and several Canadian short lines.

CN officials “remain optimistic” the railroad can reach an agreement with the TCRC without a labor disruption. However, no negotiations are scheduled. The Class I has developed a contingency plan to maintain operations in the event of a strike, CN officials said.

On Friday, the Canadian government appointed two federal mediators to prompt negotiations and attempt to avert a work stoppage.



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