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Rail Negotiations

March Toward Agreement? Update on CPKC & CN-TCRC Rail Negotiations

The Canadian National Railway (CN) and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) continue their negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, now with the help of a federally-appointed conciliator. The unions’ previous agreement expired in December and the recent appointment of a conciliator marked the official “start” of a countdown to a potential work stoppage.

According to FreightWaves, Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CKPC) filed notices of dispute with the federal labor minister and requested the appointment of a conciliator for the bargaining process over a new collective bargaining agreement for train conductors, engineers and yard workers. The appointment of conciliation officers (effective March 1, 2024) starts the clock on the 60 – day conciliation period and the 21- day cooling off period.

Getting Up to Speed

In its most recent CN and TCRC Union Bargaining Update, CN says the current collective agreement “will be extended under Canadian law until the parties reach an agreement.” This is good news for any shippers that may have otherwise been impacted by a work stoppage. “CN continues to negotiate with TCRC with the objective of reaching a negotiated agreement,” the union says. “The bargaining process does not allow for either a strike or a lockout for close to three months” (May 21, 2024,) with the appointment of conciliators.  The Teamsters are initiating a strike authorization vote on April 8, 2024, for both negotiations, which will determine if union leaders can call for strike, pending the end with no agreement.

Highlights of CN’s offer to TCRC include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Consistent schedules with guaranteed consecutive days off (a minimum of consecutive 2 days off per 7-day period). 
  • Hourly rate which raises employees’ existing wages to ensure compensation aligns with the dedication and effort they bring to their role every day. 
  • Guaranteed 40 hours of work per week for all employees, including those on the spareboard.
  • Equitable pay for everyone across classifications. 
  • Overtime paid at time-and-a-half when an employee works beyond their scheduled hours.

“Our experience has proven that negotiated agreements deliver the best results for employees, including improvements to wages, benefits, and work rules,” CN points out, “and we welcome the help of conciliators to reach an agreement that allows us to modernize our railway in a manner that will provide our employees with better work conditions with a strong focus on their safety and a better work-life balance, continue to deliver quality service to our customers, maintain a strong supply chain, and keep the economy moving.”

Focused on a Negotiated Outcome

The TCRC also posts regular updates on the negotiations and says the union continues to make “every good faith effort” to attain agreements that members would ratify. “The TCRC has been and remains willing to continue the bargaining process in good faith, yet the carriers seem intent on rushing towards a work stoppage,” it says. The union goes on to say that all three of its impacted bargaining committees “remain stronger together – as does the membership.” 

According to Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC), the TCRC – T&E represents CPKC’s roughly 3,200 locomotive engineers, conductors and train and yard workers, as well as approximately 80 rail traffic controllers—all in Canada. 

“Since September 2023, CPKC has been negotiating in good faith with the TCRC – T&E and TCRC – RCTC. CPKC has offered both a fair and balanced agreement with wage and benefit increases and more schedule predictability and quality of life improvements for its T&E employees,” the organization explains. “The latest collective bargaining negotiation session took place the week of January 29, 2024. Both CPKC and Union leadership remain far apart on the issues.” Going forward, CPKC says it will remain focused on arriving at a negotiated outcome that’s in the best interests of its employees and their families, its customers, its shareholders and the overall Canadian economy. “Everyone benefits when the railway can continue providing essential rail service, delivering goods across Canada and supporting the import and export of goods internationally.”

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