CAW leadership endorses CN Rail agreement

Negotiations continue at CP with strike deadline looming
By Gordon Sova
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 01/28/2011

On January 27, one hundred leaders from Local 100 and Council 4000 of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) has endorsed the tentative agreement reached on January 24 with Canadian National Railway (CN), paving the way for ratification votes to be held over the next three weeks starting on Monday.

The tentative agreement was reached in the shadow of a January 25 strike deadline at CN. To quote Railfax, the CAW newsletter for railway members, “There is no question that the power of a deadline works in the best interest of our members. This brings enormous pressure but, at the end of the day, provides the tools to beat back the concessions and start to make progress on behalf of our members.”

Full details of the agreement were not released pending ratification, but CN’s press release mentioned “fair wage and benefit increases,” as well as “progressive provisions that would help CN retain and attract skilled employees critical to its workforce in the years ahead.” The most recent Railfax mentions making progress on quality of work life, alternative work schedules, sick days, job security, trade modernization, return-to-work and new member orientation.

The CAW represents 4,000 shopcraft and clerical employees and owner-operator truck drivers.

The strike deadline for 2,100 CAW members at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) is February 8.

Bargaining continues and the issues dividing the parties, again according to CAW’s Railfax, include concessions on job security, contracting out pre-tripping, eliminating railcar mechanics on wrecking service and restricting seniority rights. CP also wants to close the Ogden Shops in Calgary.

CP has announced that it has trained 1,200 managers and plans to continue operating the system in the event of a strike.

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