Unifor and CP Settle Labour Issues – But Steelworkers Set to Strike

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CP Rail locomotive
CP Rail locomotive

CP Rail locomotive
CP Rail locomotive

TORONTO – TRANSPORTATION – Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP)(NYSE:CP) state that the company is disappointed to announce that negotiations with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Running Trades (TCRC) have broken down without an agreement.

As a result, the TCRC have indicated they will strike as of 12:01 a.m. on February 15, 2015. TCRC represents CP’s approximately 3,000 active locomotive engineers and conductors.

The Company, in a media release state, “CP proposed thoughtful, compelling and fair options including wage increases and improved benefit plans. Furthermore, CP proposed changes to work schedules to improve the quality of life for engineers and conductors. TCRC leadership claims that lack of time off is at the heart of its reluctance to negotiate, yet 72 percent of all engineers and conductors do not take the time off they are entitled to. Furthermore, 60 percent of the conductors and engineers at CP make between $80,000 and $160,000, while working an average of 31 to 35 hours a week”.

“We have wanted to make a deal for more than a year, and have been presenting the TCRC leadership with dynamic options and choices to improve the quality of life for employees while driving efficiencies in our business,” said E. Hunter Harrison, CP’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our conductors and engineers have plenty of options for time off, but the vast majority don’t take full advantage of those opportunities. We want to implement a model that allows us to properly schedule crews while maintaining the highest standards of safe railroading.”

There is better news for workers at CP Rail.

Unifor reached a new tentative agreement with CP Rail, minutes before the 12:01 am deadline last night.

Unifor Local 101R represents 1,800 members at CP Rail in 18 different locations. Unifor members conduct safety inspections on all rail cars and locomotives, as well as maintenance and repairs. The current collective agreement expired on December 31, 2014 and negotiations had been taking place since September.

“This was a very difficult set of negotiations, but I’m pleased that we were able to break new ground in several different areas,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“We were able to negotiate a new agreement that addresses the concerns raised by our members, while avoiding a work stoppage,” said Unifor Local 101R Tom Murphy. 

The union will now meet with local lodge presidents and workplace chairpeople to review the contents of the agreement. From there, ratification meetings will be scheduled in locations across the country over the next three weeks. Details of the agreement will only be disclosed following ratification. 

Negotiations with CN continue to be slow, with little progress being made. There is currently no strike deadline at CN and a strike vote has not yet been taken. Unifor has six collective agreements with CN Rail, which cover mechanics, clerical workers, excavator operators, locomotive engineers (Savage Rail) and truck drivers. Unifor Local 100 represents skilled trades in mechanical shops and Unifor Council 4000 represents intermodal, clerical, mechanics and owner operators. Unifor is the largest union at CN with more than 4,800 members.

Unifor represents 9,000 railway workers and 305,000 members across the country in every sector of the economy.