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Rail News: Labor

Back-to-work bill passes, ends UTU-Canada strike at CN

Yesterday, the Canadian Parliament and Senate approved back-to-work legislation, forcing striking United Transportation Union-Canada members to return to their jobs at Canadian National Railway Co. The railroad later lifted its lock-out on striking workers.

The bill also requires the union and railroad to submit best-offer proposals to a government-appointed arbitrator, who would choose one proposal.

Expressing disappointment with the legislation, union officials said they will continue addressing worker dissatisfaction with CN work rules and conditions, according to a UTU-Canada statement.

Union officials believe CN managers might use the legislation and its arbitration provision to “break up the UTU’s national bargaining unit and replace it with [four] regional bargaining units,” UTU-Canada officials said in a prepared statement.

Earlier this week, CN announced plans to pursue regionally bargained contracts; the union plans to challenge the plan as an unfair labor practice before the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

UTU-Canada — which represents 2,800 CN workers — launched a strike on Feb. 10, but suspended the job action and returned to work during the ratification process for a tentative agreement reached on Feb. 24. The union resumed the strike on April 11 after 79 percent of UTU-Canada members rejected the one-year settlement. That same day, CN began locking out striking workers at various terminals. CN managers are filling in for striking workers.

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More News from 4/19/2007