Canadian Pacific faces prospect of strike by engineers and conductors in Canada

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CALGARY, Alberta – Canadian Pacific is facing the potential of a strike by engineers, conductors, and signal maintainers in Canada.

Some 3,000 engineers and conductors, who are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, may walk out as soon as April 21 if negotiations are unsuccessful this week.

"We have been working hard with both unions for months, and continue to meet in order to negotiate an agreement that balances the needs of these two unions with the needs of our entire workforce, our customers, and our shareholders," CP CEO Keith Creel said in a statement on Friday. "I made labor outreach my top priority when I became CEO and I continue to focus my efforts on this key area."

CP said it was continuing to negotiate with the unions but that both had rejected CP’s proposal to enter into the voluntary mediation process to avoid a strike.

CP said a strike would “severely impact” the railroad’s ability to provide freight and commuter service in Canada at a time when demand is increasing. Commuter agencies in Vancouver, British Columbia; Toronto, and Montreal rely on CP.

Doug Finnson, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, said CP was attempting to manufacture a crisis to force government intervention and avoid bargaining with the union.

“If CP truly wants to avoid a strike, all they need to do is show up on time at the bargaining table, be prepared to negotiate with the Teamsters, and stop lobbying the government to save them from themselves,” Finnson said in a Saturday statement on the union’s website.

Arbitration, he says, would lead to a better deal for the railway.

Finnson also accused CP of “systematically bullying workers” and “pushing them to work well beyond their point of exhaustion.”

CP says it is working to alleviate crew fatigue issues.

"People and safety are part of CP's core foundations and we are committed to safe operations and a well-rested workforce is an important part of that,” Creel said. “We are more than open to considering scheduling and time off options with the TCRC, and have even proposed pilot projects to do that.”

The two sides appear to be far apart. The Teamsters have 108 outstanding contract demands, while the railway have five outstanding issues, according to CP.

CP’s 360 signal maintainers in Canada are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
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