Unions representing about 5,000 CN workers, including those in Northwest Ontarian towns like Hornepayne
|and Sioux Lookout, are questioning a move by the railway to reroute some freight trains to lines south of |
”The timing is very suspect,” Rex Beatty, a lead negotiator for the United Transportation Union, said on
January 20th from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Contract negotiations between CN and UTU conductors and brakemen, as well as the Teamsters which
represent locomotive engineers, broke off last week with no new talks scheduled.
CN is blaming extremely cold weather in Northern Ontario and western Canada for ”temporarily” reducing
the number of freight trains coming through towns like Hornepayne and Sioux Lookout to 12 per day from
the normal rate of 18.
"The cold is affecting the performance of air brakes, which could become a safety issue," said CN regional
spokesman Mark Hallman.
Said the UTU's Beatty: “January comes every year. This is not an abnormal year.”
Hallman said it’s not the first time CN has reduced the number of freight trains, but “never on this magnitude”
He would not comment when asked if the reduction would result in layoffs, but veteran CN workers said
they are expecting just that.
Hornepayne Mayor Gene Belanger, a locomotive engineer, said the move could affect up to 30 people in his
town. There are about 250 CN employees in Hornepayne.
The workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2003.
Source: The Chronicle-Journal
What are train crews saying about CN using cold weather as cause of re-routing traffic
south of the Canadian Border:
Got a real belly laugh about the spin CN put on their train diversions...
"The cold is affecting the performance of air brakes, which could become a safety issue, said CN regional
spokesman Mark Hallman."
Would anyone care to point out to Hallman that the normal winter temperature variation between
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario is on average only about +/- 5 degrees Celsius! In fact, after
looking at the weather office web site, it looks like Winnipeg is, on average, colder in January than Sudbury!!
But more to the point if cold weather and air brakes are a safety issue in the first 600 miles, why aren't they
a safety issue in the other 600 miles across Manitoba and Saskatchewan?
So there we were... 40 below, 40 miles an hour, coming down the Firdale hill in Central Manitoba with
14,000 tons of potash, on a clear to stop, the engine driver had everything off but his underwear for the last
3 miles, it ain't slowing down, and the RTC calls up and says he can't get the switch at the west end of
Firdale to come in, so could we try it in hand throw... and oh, by the way, they want you to stop at Bloom
and pick up the empties!
But I wasn't worried, because I knew air brakes and safety was only an issue at CN in Northern Ontario!
It seems funny the cold is only a safety issue here in Ontario!
CN Canadian Track Crews new tentative Agreement -
Agreement is of interest to Council 4000 Agreement 5.4 membership
On January 14th, CN and he United Steelworkers of America Union announced that they reached a tentative
|contract deal with the 2,250 track and bridge maintenance workers in Canada. This is an unprecedented |
four year contract that will run through 2007 if ratified. Ratification will be conducted by a mail-in vote and
will take several weeks to complete, according to the Union.
The deal sees wage increases of 3% retroactive to January 1, 2004, with 3% wage increases for 2005,
2006 and a 4% wage increase for 2007.
Council 4000 members – Agreement 5.4 CAW Operators/Excavators – are interested in the details of this
contract, specifically away from home and meal expenses. Our Agreement 5.4 membership, which
includes 13 members on the Mountain Region and one on the Council’s Prairie Region, will receive the same
expense improvements as negotiated in the Steelworkers contract.
CN was not willing to negotiate on expenses independently with the CAW when they had yet to meet with
the Steelworkers. They did not want to establish a pattern in negotiating a deal for 14, when the same
types of expenses were up for negotiations for 2,250 employees.
For the benefit of the Council's Agreement 5.4 membership, details on the specific away from home and
meal expense changes will be published once the Steelworkers membership ratifies the contract.
CAW/CP Rail Negotiations
CAW Local 101 completed another week of bargaining January 15th with CP Rail in New Westminster, B.C.
|on behalf of 2500 shopcraft workers. Talks aimed at renewing the collective agreement, which expired |
December 31, 2004, have been ongoing since the fall. Some of the key outstanding issues include wages,
shift differentials, “service technician”, and skilled trades.
Another week of bargaining has been set for February 7th to11th in Calgary. Failing agreement at that time,
Local 101 president Tom Murphy says that the union will apply for conciliation.
Source: CAW Railfax
Teamsters/CPR announce 4-year contract by train crews
On January 18th, The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and Canadian Pacific Railway announced
|that a four-year collective agreement has been ratified by train crew employees. The agreement with CPR's |
4,500 train crew employees, the railway's largest bargaining group, extends to the end of 2006. It provides
for wage, pension and benefits improvements, as well as work rule changes that will generate increased
productivity. Wage increases are 2% for 2003, 3% for 2004, 2.5% for 2005 and 3% for 2006.
George Hucker, Vice-President and National Legislative Representative with the Teamsters, said the
agreement is the first with CPR since the Teamsters gained bargaining rights in 2004. "In addition to
improvements secured in traditional areas, this agreement includes a framework to move forward in areas
that will improve lifestyle for our membership."
On January 14, CPR and the Maintenance of Way Division of the TCRC, which represents approximately
2,150 track maintenance employees, reached a Memorandum of Settlement to renew their collective
agreement through the end of 2006. Details of the three-year settlement are not available pending
ratification. Results of the ratification vote are expected in March.
Source: Canada Newswire
Wisconsin purchases CN line to preserve rail service
In December, on this web site, we reported that businesses in the State of Wisconsin were questioning CN’
|s commitment to its customers in Northern Wisconsin. These concerns sparked the formation of an informal |
coalition of rail users and a State study on the economic importance of the railroad in the region.
Further to this news come the announcement that a 37-mile section of rail line slated for abandonment in the
State won't be mothballed after all. Last week, the state of Wisconsin purchased the Saukville-to-Kiel line
from Canadian National Railway Co. for $1.9 million. Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR), which
opposed CN's abandonment plans, will operate the line.
In June 2004, CN filed an application with the United States Surface Transportation Board to abandon the
line. The board approved the application in October.
However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) held several public meetings at which
numerous business owners and elected officials from municipalities along the track expressed concerns
about losing the line. WisDOT also conducted an economic impact study that showed seven shippers using
the line provide 145 jobs with an estimated payroll of $5.8 million.
"Preservation of this rail corridor is important to the continued economic growth of businesses and
communities throughout the Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Manitowoc county regions," said Wisconsin
Governor Jim Doyle in a prepared statement.
To purchase the line, the state used funds from WisDOT's Freight Railroad Preservation Program, which
enables the state to buy abandoned or slated-for-abandonment lines to preserve rail service. WSOR and
several shippers along the line provided some funds toward the purchase.
Local 100 Union Chairperson reinstated
As was reported on this web site in December 2004, Les Lilley, a 30-year CN employee and CAW Local 100
|Chairperson, blew the whistle on CN after hidden surveillance cameras were discovered at the Company’s |
Transcona Shops in Winnipeg. This triggered CN to conduct a disciplinary investigation that lead to CN firing
Lilley just three days before Christmas.
The Union is happy to report that Brother Lilley has his job back! He's been reinstated ''with full
compensation.'' The union accused CN of firing Lilley to intimidate workers after the controversy concerning
the cameras erupted.
|National Council 4000