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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

UTU ratifies CN contract covering U.S. conductors, brakemen

On July 15, Canadian National Railway Co. announced United Transportation Union ratified a three-year agreement covering 600 conductors and brakemen on the Class I's former Illinois Central properties in the United States. The contract takes effect Aug. 1.

Unlike traditional mileage- and rule-based wage systems — which date back to the steam-locomotive era — the agreement includes hourly wages, job guarantees and more flexible work rules.

"[The contract] will allow management to operate the railroad in the most efficient, customer-focused way, and provide employees increased pay, job security and a better balance between work and home lives," said CN President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison in a prepared statement.

The agreement includes a "reversionary clause" enabling UTU and CN to drop the hourly-wage system after three years and a return to the mileage-based system — with retroactive increases — if members aren't satisfied with the new payment method, said UTU General Chairman Warner Biedenharn Jr.

CN now has secured hourly-wage agreements covering more than 1,600 U.S. train and engine employees.

The former IC properties include the Illinois Central Railroad, running from Chicago to New Orleans; and the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad, running between Chicago, Omaha, Neb., and Sioux City, Iowa.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/16/2003