Strike notice served by the Canadian Pacific railway union

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 28, 2018

Teamsters members voted 98.1 percent to reject the company's final offer on Friday.

Turnout for the electronic vote was about 77 per cent.

The unions have the option of filing a 72 hour strike notice, but the Teamsters say they want an immediate resumption of contract talks to avoid a work stoppage.

As per the statement, "After workers at CP voted to reject the last contract offers, the company is still refusing to negotiate seriously".

CP Rail train crews have engaged in two strikes in the past few years.

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had argued the proposed agreement does not address workers' wage and fatigue concerns. IBEW said 89 per cent of its members voted.

For its part, the Canadian Pacific said it was disappointed, "given that the two final offers presented were considerable improvements with respect to the compensation, benefits and working conditions that are similar to those of agreements concluded recently with other unions of the CP in the United States and Canada". Three years earlier, federal back-to-work legislation was enacted to end a 10-day strike.

Railway officials have not said whether they are open to resuming negotiations.

Via Rail Canada, southern Ontario transit operator Metrolinx, and the BC Rapid Transit Co. have all said a strike at CP Rail would result in disruptions, although the unions said Saturday that commuter train services would not be affected by a Teamsters strike. Notice was given last month, but a new deal was reached in time to avoid job action.

The vote strengthens the union's hand by demonstrating to the railway that its effort to go around negotiators was misguided, said George Smith, a labour relations consultant and fellow at the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University.

Canadian shippers rely on CP to deliver about 400,000 tonnes of grain that will not move for each week the railroad is on strike, said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association.

The Trudeau government will try to differentiate itself from its predecessor by allowing collective bargaining to continue and even for a strike to begin before it passes back-to-work legislation, Smith said.

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