Lockout Deadline of Midnight Looms for CP Rail Workers

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THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Canadian Pacific Railway has issued a 72-hour notice of the company’s plan to lock out workers effective midnight on Saturday.

The lockout will happen if a settlement is not reached between CP Rail and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference workers.

A possible railway work stoppage is inching closer after Canadian Pacific Railway Limited issued a 72-hour notice of its plan to lock out employees at midnight on Sunday if a negotiated settlement or binding arbitration isn’t reached between the union leadership and the company.

“For the sake of our employees, our customers, the supply chain we serve and the Canadian economy that is trying to recover from multiple disruptions, we simply cannot prolong for weeks or months the uncertainty associated with a potential labor disruption,” says Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. “The world has never needed Canada’s resources and an efficient transportation system to deliver them more than it does today. Delaying resolution would only make things worse. We take this action with a view to bringing this uncertainty to an end.”

CP Rail states in a media release, “We have been negotiating in good faith since September and over the past week, Canadian Pacific (CP) and the TCRC leadership have been meeting daily with federal mediators to reach a new negotiated collective agreement in hopes of avoiding a labor disruption. Despite those talks, our positions remain far apart.

“Yesterday, CP tabled an offer that addressed a total of 26 outstanding issues between the parties, including an offer to resolve the TCRC’s key issues of wages, benefits and pensions through final and binding arbitration.

“Today, the TCRC leadership rejected CP’s offer and, contrary to public statements by TCRC spokesman Dave Fulton that wages, benefits and pensions were the key issues, the union continues to table additional work rule demands. In rejecting our offer, the TCRC’s proposal included an even more onerous pension demand. The TCRC’s latest position would, if accepted, be even more destabilizing to the pension plan for all of CP’s unionized employees, not just the 10 percent who are TCRC members.”

For nearly a decade, CP has invited the TCRC to enroll its members in a sustainable pension-sharing program, which has benefited thousands of members of CP’s other Canadian unions. The TCRC has consistently rejected this opportunity, and has done so again today. In fact, the union leadership has taken the successful pension-sharing program off the table seeking to negotiate all pension changes through collective bargaining – an unfair demand that jeopardizes the long-term health of a pension plan that 30,000 other employees and pensioners rely on.

“We are deeply disappointed that we find ourselves in this position,” added Creel. “CP will continue to bargain in good faith with the TCRC leadership to achieve a negotiated settlement or enter binding arbitration. The Canadian economy could avoid all the pain and damage of a work stoppage if the TCRC would agree to binding arbitration, an outcome we continue to push for.”

Teamsters Union is providing an update on negotiations.

“First and foremost, let us mention that this lockout denotes Canadian Pacific’s irresponsibility in terms of labour relations, as demonstrated by its poor behaviour at the bargaining table. The lockout also demonstrates CP’s irresponsibility with regards to the continuity of the overall Canadian supply chain,” says Dave Fulton, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) spokesperson at the bargaining table. After a never-ending pandemic, exploding commodity prices and the war in Ukraine, this lockout adds an unnecessary layer of insecurity for many Canadians,”

We acknowledge that the negotiations are difficult and that the parties are far apart. However, the TCRC has been and continues to be committed to remaining at the table and working with federal mediators to reach a negotiated settlement. It is well known that CP was the first to put the work stoppage on the table, and went so far as to forecast that the stoppage was coming.

It is true that wages and pensions are major stumbling blocks. However, what is most important in these talks is the employer’s seeming desire to make the rail industry even less attractive to current workers and to those who would like to pursue a career in the industry in the coming years.

“Our members want respect and a fair contract,” added Fulton. They want to work, but they also want to be able to spend time with their families and rest. That’s the least CP can do,”

In these negotiations, Canadian Pacific wants to extend the possibility that its workers spend longer periods away from home. “The railway wants to reserve its ability to force workers to take the federal government’s mandated reset break at the away-from-home terminal instead of the home terminal. This would extend lay-overs, or the time spent en route, by a minimum of 32 hours,” Fulton concluded. “However, the intent of this provision was to have the reset break occur at the home terminal to achieve proper rest and work-life balance,”

CP has commenced its work stoppage contingency plan and will work closely with customers to achieve a smooth, efficient and safe wind-down of Canadian operations.

TCRC represents approximately 3,000 locomotive engineers, conductors, train and yard workers across Canada. In 2021, a CP TCRC locomotive engineer earned on average $135,442 and the top earner made $209,773. Meanwhile, in 2021, a TCRC conductor, trainperson or yardperson earned on average $107,872 and the top earner made $182,888. These annual earnings far exceed the 2021 Canadian average earnings of $65,138.1 Since 2007, the TCRC members have enjoyed a wage increase of 43 percent, which exceeds the compounded inflation rate by nearly 20 percent.