|CAW reaches tentative agreement with VIA Rail
The CAW Bargaining Committees for Agreements 1, 2 and 3 reached a tentative agreement with VIA Rail Canada on Saturday, June
26th at approximately 11:30 p.m. There was without question, a significant change in attitude by VIA which throughout the day, in
a number of meetings they began to withdraw their massive concessions against our members. Given our previous Railfax
concerning the state of negotiations, the question on all of our member’s minds would be what prompted the significant turn around
The bargaining committees believe that the decision by VIA to work with us to reach a fair and equitable agreement was prompted
by four events.
Firstly, the decision by the bargaining committees to serve the 72 hour strike notices to the employer and to the Federal
government. This decision sent a very clear message that we were prepared to challenge the employer and revert to a dispute if
The second, we believe is the most prevalent reason, was the reaction by our members following the notice being served. The
corporation thought we would get a negative reaction by our members and public opinion would be raising significant opposition to
our members withdrawing their labour and commencing the strike. It was clear that our members in their various workplaces
remained in full support and solidarity with their bargaining committee. This without question turned the tide.
The third, was the notification sent by National President Brother Ken Lewenza to all of our national directors and staff, updating
them on the current situation at the VIA bargaining table and instructing their cooperation in ensuring that if there was to be a
dispute, VIA workers who had never been on strike deserved the full support of the total union. They were asked to put the locals
across the country on notice, in every major center to assist these workers on the picket line and provide them any and all
necessary support in defending their hard earned gains.
The fourth, was through working with the National Strike Department; strike committees were set up across the country and we
communicated through conference calls with them to ensure that they were also fully knowledgeable and were prepared to support
their membership in case of a strike. We put in place two National Strike Coordinators. Brother Ken Cameron, Council 4000 -
Agreements 1 and 2 and Brother Dave Williams, Local 100 – Agreement 3. Their energy and commitment on your behalf was
unwavering. We want to thank them for their efforts.
Throughout these negotiations the corporation’s defended their massive concessions by what they called a “review of reality”, in
which they argued that in 2009 they experienced a $35 million loss in revenue and expected marginal improvements from 2010 to
2012. In addition, the benefit costs significantly increased in 2007 to 2009 and expected increases would be realized in 2010 of 5.3
percent and in 2011 of 7 percent. They were relentless in their position going back in history as far back as 1999, where VIA was
funded $170 million per year. In 2003 to 2007 there was a shortfall of over $75 million. They argued that although in 2009 to 2011
the Feds had put in $176 million for infrastructure work, these monies, dictated by the Federal government would only be used for
various projects primarily in the corridor. They also argued that in 2011 and 2012 the Federal government funding would be
reduced from $176 million to $166 million. The reaction of the bargaining committee was clear and swift; we had absolutely no
intention of allowing VIA to use the lack of funding to attack workers hard earned gains and were determined as a bargaining
committee to make progress on behalf of our members.
This tentative agreement, subject to ratification, recognizes the reality of our workers who day to day are working more with less
and providing quality work with high productivity. We were determined not to allow VIA to put the funding issue, although a reality,
on the backs of the workers. Our members can appreciate the enormous pressure VIA placed on the bargaining committee, despite
this the tentative agreement includes wage increases each year of the agreement, benefit improvements, protection and
maintaining our work rules and we maintained our hard earned gains of the past and made significant progress in many areas.
The issue of funding of this important national passenger rail system demands and deserves the full support of Canadians and
every level of government across the country. We fully intend to commence a significant campaign to highlight the critical
importance of improving the passenger system adding new innovations to attract customers to VIA and to do this we will need the
full support of our leadership and membership across the country. Our members, their families and their communities deserve a
measure of job security and the only way this can be realized is through political action. The campaign must engage every political
party in the country in the Federal government. We would encourage you to write your politicians demanding a commitment that
would see the future of our members work and jobs secured. There are constant rumours about privatization. Whether this is real
or not we need to defend this important passenger rail system to the country.
On June 28, 2010 in Montreal, the Master Bargaining Committee met with the top leadership from across the country and provided
them with full details of the tentative agreement. The mood of the leadership was very positive and at the completion of the
presentation over 45 top workplace leadership elected by their members, unanimously endorsed the tentative agreement. The
committees in Agreement 1, 2 and 3 will now go out for ratification by their members. In Agreement 1 and 2, we will commence
ratification on July 5th through to July 20th across the country. In Agreement 3 - shopcraft, ratification will be July 12th through to
July 16th. Specific details of locations and times will be provided to the membership shortly.
Once again we encourage the full participation and support of our members at the ratification meetings. Without question this
round of bargaining was the most difficult that we experienced in VIA bargaining. The Master Bargaining Committee wants to
express their sincere appreciation for the unwavering support of our leadership and membership.
VIA Master Bargaining Committee
CAW Local 100
CAW Council 4000
Source: CAW Railfax
March 2, 2010 - Update on CAW negotiations with VIA Rail
January 28, 2010 - Update on CAW negotiations with VIA Rail
January 10, 2010 - VIA Rail bargaining update
December 3, 2009 - Update on CAW - VIA Rail negotiations
October 21, 2009 - CAW opens negotiations with VIA Rail in Ottawa
October 8, 2009 - CAW and VIA Rail set to open talks on a new contract