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Union takes issue with loss of sick leave for some CPKC dispatchers


About 35 Canadian Pacific Kansas City train dispatchers will lose paid sick time when they move from the Class I's former U.S. headquarters in Minnesota to its current U.S. headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, later this year, the union representing the workers said in a letter to the company and its shareholders.

American Train Dispatchers Association President L. Ed Dowell wrote that there are 48 CPKC train dispatchers in Kansas City that do not have paid sick days. When the railroad consolidates its operations this summer and relocates an additional 35 ATDA members to the Kansas City area, "they will be forced to forfeit all paid sick leave benefits earned through their many years of service," Dowell said.

The workers will lose their sick time because they formerly worked under the Soo Line agreement in Minnesota prior to last year's Canadian Pacific merger with Kansas City Southern. Now, as CPKC consolidates operations, the 35 dispatchers will be governed by the KCS agreement, according to Dowell.

"While the corporation could have easily resolved this issue through the consolidation process, it instead used negotiations to present our members with a Hobson's choice: accept an 11% pay reduction or forfeit all sick leave benefits. Given the challenging cost of living and that their sick leave comprised far less than 11% of their compensation, they were forced to choose to give up sick leave," Dowell wrote.

In an emailed response to Progressive Railroading, CPKC spokesman Patrick Waldron said the Minneapolis ATDA-represented workers "were not forced" to give up their sick leave, but instead elected a higher-paying collective agreement with the company.

"The ATDA chose to have dispatchers relocating from Minneapolis to Kansas City join the existing agreement covering Kansas City-based dispatchers, an agreement in place with Kansas City Southern (KCS) employees prior to the combination of the Canadian Pacific and KCS networks," Waldron said.

The union selected the governing agreement through negotiations of an implementing agreement before the merger, Waldron noted.

"CPKC and its unions have sick days included in multiple collective-bargaining agreements in the United States and continues to offer to negotiate the addition of sick days with the ATDA as part of the agreement in Kansas City," Waldron added. "While not all collective agreements are the same, they are the result of the collective-bargaining process."

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