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4/25/2007



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Canadian government appoints arbitrator to settle UTU-Canada, CN contract dispute



Canadian Minister of Labor Jean-Pierre Blackburn on Monday named Andrew Sims as federal arbitrator to settle a contract dispute the United Transportation Union-Canada and Canadian National Railway Co.

Currently part-time vice chairman of the Alberta Labor Relations Board and Canadian Industrial Relations Board, Sims maintains a private practice as an arbitrator and mediator. During the next 90 days, he will review the union’s and railroad’s best final contract offers and choose one to form a collective agreement.

A week ago, the Canadian government enacted back-to-work legislation that ended UTU-Canada’s two-month-long strike against CN and allowed legislators to appoint an arbitrator. The legislation doesn’t prevent the union and railroad from returning to the negotiating table before Sims completes the contract offer review process.

“I encourage both parties to approach the next 90 days as an opportunity to negotiate and develop reasonable, long-term solutions to the labor dispute,” Blackburn said in a prepared statement.

UTU-Canada, which represents 2,800 CN workers, launched a strike on Feb. 10 after the union and railroad failed to negotiate a contract, but it suspended the job action pending the ratification process of a tentative agreement reached on Feb. 24. The union resumed the strike on April 11 after 79 percent of UTU-Canada members rejected the one-year settlement.


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