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Rail News: Labor

UTU-Canada resumes CN strike after members reject tentative pact


Call it a resounding “no.” The United Transportation Union-Canada’s strike against Canadian National Railway Co. is back on after union members rejected a tentative agreement yesterday by a 1,553-402 vote.

UTU-Canada resumed picketing of CN rail facilities today in Vancouver and Kamloops, British Columbia, at midnight Eastern time, and an Oakville, Ontario, facility at 5 a.m. Eastern. The union will carry out a “rotating strike” under which picketing locations and times are determined by UTU-Canada officials. UTU International officers have authorized and endorsed the job action by UTU-Canada, which represents 2,800 CN conductors and yard service workers in Canada.

The union has asked the Canadian government to refrain from issuing back-to-work legislation and CN negotiators to resume collective bargaining, said UTU Vice President Bob Sharpe in a prepared statement.

UTU-Canada is seeking a contract that “improves upon the terms of the Feb. 24 rejected settlement and that meets the concerns and expectations of our membership,” he said.

Meanwhile, CN managers are prepping to fill in for striking employees who engage in the rotating labor action, railroad officials said. Managers previously performed the tasks of striking workers in February.

“CN is disappointed with the contract rejection,” said President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison. "We believe the settlement was fair, equitable and consistent with collective agreements the company recently signed with another Canadian union.”

UTU-Canada initially launched the strike against CN on Feb. 10, but suspended the job action and returned to work during the ratification process for a tentative agreement reached on Feb. 24. Union officials have assured CN officers the rotating strikes won’t affect commuter-rail services in Toronto and Montreal, the railroad said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/11/2007