CN served with strike notice

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, representing 3,200 employees, sets walkout for Tuesday
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MONTREAL — The union representing conductors and rail yard coordinators in Canada has given Canadian National Railway 72-hour notice of its intent to strike. The strike could begin at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday.

The Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference — Conductors, Trainpersons and Yardpersons (TCRC-CTY) represents approximately 3,200 CN employees. It served notice of its intent to strike the day after the railroad confirmed it had begun layoffs of management and union employees in the U.S. and Canada [see “CN to cut jobs; report says up to 1,600 could be affected,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 16, 2019]. The potential strike will only affect operations in Canada.

In a CN news release, Rob Reilly, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said, “We continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a fair agreement before the strike deadline. In the spirit of protecting the Canadian economy, we have offered the union binding arbitration and they have declined.  If a settlement cannot be reached this weekend, we will once again encourage the union leadership to accept binding arbitration as an alternative to disrupting the Canadian economy. We remain committed to constructive talks to reach an agreement without a work stoppage.”

A statement on the union’s website says wages are not the major issue in the negotiations. It cites safety issues regarding remote-controlled locomotives and other work rules, and prescription drug coverage, as key points of contention.

The union says the railroad is seeking arbritation because it “hopes to achieve gains that could not have otherwise been made by negotiating in good faith.” Earlier, 99.2% of union members had voted in favor of a strike [see “CN workers set to strike in November,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 29, 2019].

Union President Lyndon Isaak said the railroad “made over $3.8 billion in the third quarter of 2019. They should be ashamed to be pleading poverty. This obsession with profits and shareholder return, at the expense of just about everything else, is exactly what is wrong with our economy.”

As of Saturday, negotiations were continuing.

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