|July 25, 2006
CAW Members at Savage Alberta Railway ratify new collective agreement
|Negotiations concluded late last week on a new collective agreement between the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) and Savage
Alberta Railway (SAR), a shortline railway headquartered in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The CAW represents the company’s conductors
and locomotive engineers based in Grande Prairie and Grande Cache, AB. Members ratified the contract at the union’s ratification
In addition to negotiating several work rule improvements, including new work ownership and contracting out language, the union
also effectively reduced the wage gap between conductors and engineers, raising the conductor rate of pay more in line with a
locomotive engineer. Substantial, special set rate increases on all classifications become effective at ratification, which when
calculated in percentage figures, exceeds today’s standards in collective bargaining. SAR CAW members will also see a one time
signing bonus and additional wage increases in a three year contract - 2% for engineers and 3% for conductors in 2007, 3% in 2008
and 5% in 2009 on all classifications.
Significant improvement was made to SAR’s Dental and Group Registered Retirement Savings Plan for CAW members. A new
Vision Plan was also negotiated that will see the benefit level improved in the final year of the contract. Other fringe benefits were
increased, and existing benefits such as Paid Sick Leave was maintained, as was the banking of overtime.
Between June 1999 and May 2003, Transportation employees at Savage (then Alberta RailNet) had seen only one wage increase of
2% when the railway was non-union. Since joining the CAW in 2003, the rate of pay for conductors will have increased 26.9% by the
end of 2006 (37.9% by the end of 2009), while engineers pay has increased 17% by the end of 2006 (27% by the end of 2009).
The new agreement took 8-months to negotiate. Council 4000 Regional Representative Barry Kennedy, along with bargaining
committee members Pat McLaughlin and Dave Judge, said that this contract “improves both the working conditions and quality of life
of our Savage membership, as well as for their families.” During the ratification meeting, the membership expressed their
appreciation for the union’s efforts this round of bargaining.
CAW-Savage Alberta Railway Contract Highlights [PDF]