Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Running Trades (TCRC) has provided official notice of its intent to strike Canadian Pacific Rail in the event ongoing negotiations do not result in an agreement by midnight February 14. This group represents more than 3,000 active locomotive engineers and conductors at CP. A work stoppage can occur as early as 12:01 a.m. on February 15, 2015.
“CP’s offers included wage increases, better benefit plans, and the re-instatement of the Employee Share Purchase Plan in a long-term agreement,” said Peter Edwards, Vice-President, Human Resources and Labour Relations. “We also proposed a model that will improve the scheduling of regular time off and quality of life while enhancing our service and efficiency, but the union has not been interested.” CP asked the TCRC to start bargaining on a new contract in December 2013, a full year before it was set to expire. “Canadian Pacific is committed to finding a workable solution with the union and continues to bargain in good faith,” Edwards said.
TCRC President Douglas Finnson explains that the Union membership is determined to achieve a negotiated settlement, which addresses the issues they face on a daily basis.
“CP is completely unable to provide the majority of our members with any sort of accurate information on when they are required to work. The CP negotiators have admitted their line up model is completely unpredictable and they are simply unable to fix it. Furthermore, CP is either unwilling or unable to comply with the collective agreements that require train crews stop operating and obtain rest after 10 continuous hours of work,” explains Finnson. These are only two examples of the dysfunctional working conditions created by CP for the Teamsters members, and represent significant issues for the train crews, which the Union negotiating committee is trying to fix.
The Teamsters are in Montreal meeting with CP with the assistance of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services. The Union has provided CP with a set of options that will correct many of the objectionable working conditions, and will continue to work towards effective solutions should CP want to make positive changes. TCRC is optimistic that CP will be able to agree with an acceptable set of terms the membership will ratify. “The Teamsters are here to negotiate,” confirms TCRC President Finnson.
Subject to the union’s decision to strike, CP will implement its extensive contingency plan by deploying qualified management employees to maintain a reduced freight service on its Canadian network. CP will work with its customers to advise them on how this work stoppage will affect them.
There are five long-term collective agreements in place between CP and its Canadian unions, including two with Teamsters unions. Rail Traffic Controllers (TCRC-RTC), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Teamsters Maintenance of Way employees (TCRC-MWED), Police (CPPA) and United Steel Workers (USW) have all ratified long-term deals with acceptance rates between 90 and 97.5 percent.
Separately, CP Rail was served with another strike notice for February 15 at 12:01 a.m., this time by Unifor. The notice comes after five months of negotiations with the railway. Unifor represents approximately 1,800 workers at CP, who conduct safety inspections on all rail cars and locomotives, as well as maintenance and repairs.
“CP is incredibly profitable – 2014 was the best year ever for the railway, there is no reason that we should not be able to reach a fair agreement before the deadline,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias. “CP Rail is delivering more freight with far fewer workers. This is increasingly posing health and safety concerns and more strain on our members, which we are determined to resolve at the bargaining table.” Dias said that members are frustrated with the working conditions at CP and the high strike vote of 97 per cent reflects this growing sentiment. In 2014, CP employed 14,577 people, down by over 1,500 workers since 2011. Contracts with CP expired on December 31, 2014.