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Rail News: Passenger Rail

VIA Rail locomotive engineers end two-day strike


On Friday, 340 locomotive engineers represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) walked off the job at VIA Rail Canada Inc. But the strike ended at mid-day on Sunday after the railroad and union agreed to final and binding arbitration.

A federally appointed arbitrator will propose a new collective agreement to both parties, perhaps as early as mid-August.

"We reached the conclusion that there was no possible agreement in the short term,” said TCRC President Daniel Shewchuk in a prepared statement. "The strike may have lasted for weeks or months.”

The TCRC members have worked without a contract since Dec. 31, 2006. The workers are seeking improved wages and benefits, schedules that provide two consecutive days off, and increased training. On July 21, the union issued a 72-hour strike notice to VIA Rail officials.

Non-monetary issues are the main sticking points, but wages are an outstanding issue, as well, TCRC officials said.

"After taking all the issues into consideration, we decided that the best course of action for everyone involved would be to address our issues by an arbitrator,” said Shewchuk.

Following the two-day strike, VIA Rail announced it will offer customers a 60 percent discount on adult regular fares for all economy class and some business class seats for trips taken between July 26 and Dec. 14 because the strike inconvenienced riders over the weekend. Tickets must be purchased by July 29.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/27/2009