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Unifor continues to reject a fair offer to reach a new collective agreement that's in line with settlements negotiated with three other unions, CN officials said in a press release issued yesterday.A key stumbling block to negotiations is Unifor's demand that CN contribute cash to the union's political and community action fund, which the railroad refuses to do "as a matter of principle," they said.CN's settlement proposal offered on Sunday to Unifor — which represents 4,800 of the railroad's mechanical, intermodal, clerical and other workers — called for a three-year agreement, with 3 percent wage increases in each year. The offer also included benefit improvements "fully in line" with what the Class I negotiated recently with the United Steelworkers, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and Teamsters Canada-Rail Canada Traffic Controllers, CN officials said.But Unifor officials have refused to set aside a demand that the railroad make the cash contributions to the union fund, they said."CN is prepared to co-invest in charitable causes, but we are not prepared to support such a union agenda," said CN President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau. "We are offering several alternatives, including binding arbitration, to keep the process moving forward toward resolution."However, CN's characterization of the contribution is "an intentional misrepresentation" of the union’s new Canadian Community Fund, which first was negotiated with Canadian Pacific on Saturday, said Unifor President Jerry Dias in a statement.The new fund is part of the union's broader social mandate that emphasizes working alongside community groups to improve the lives of working people and those who are most vulnerable, he said. The fund will have terms of reference and input from members."The Canadian Community Fund is part of a long history of making gains at the bargaining table that are shared in the community," said Dias. "CP understood the value of this fund; it’s unfortunate that CN does not see this opportunity."Over the years, Unifor has been able to make donations to youth and women’s shelters and disaster relief efforts, and help with providing legal advice to migrant workers and supporting workers who don’t have access to a union, he said.Meanwhile, CN announced yesterday that TCRC-represented locomotive engineers and conductors at its Northern Quebec Internal Short line have ratified a new four-year agreement. The pact provides wage increases and benefit improvements for 93 employees.
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