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Rail News: Labor

Canadian Auto Workers union sets strike deadlines for CN, CP


Yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) announced that members voted in favor of issuing strikes at CN and Canadian Pacific if the union and railroads fail to negotiate new labor contracts.

The CAW set a strike deadline for CN — where the union represents 4,300 workers — at 12:01 a.m on Jan. 25. The strike deadline for CP — where the CAW represents 2,100 employees — is set for 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 8.

The Class Is and union have been bargaining since October, and negotiations with both railroads “have been challenging so far,” with each demanding concessions from workers, said CAW President Ken Lewenza in a prepared statement. The union’s bargaining committees at CN and CP are seeking a “fair and equitable settlement” on behalf of their members, he said.

"Our members have spoken loudly and clearly about their issues and concerns, and this high strike vote is a strong indication that our members are absolutely serious in addressing these concerns at the bargaining table," said Lewenza.

CN is continuing formal negotiations with the CAW, said spokesman Mark Hallman. The CAW represents about 3,400 CN shopcraft, clerical and intermodal employees, and 575 owner-operator truck drivers at CN subsidiary CNTL. The four groups are covered by three collective agreements, with the intermodal contract supplemental to the clerical agreement, said Hallman.

“CN is optimistic that a formal agreement can be reached without a labor disruption,” he said.

CP officials are optimistic about the prospects of negotiating a settlement in time, too. But the Class I has trained 1,200 managers and put a contingency plan in place to operate the railroad in case a strike occurs. The CAW represents CP mechanical services employees who inspect and repair rail cars and locomotives.

"The company has a long history of cooperative labor relations and working through key issues with the unions representing our employees," CP officials said in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/14/2011