|UTU membership rejects one year contract offer with CN
|The United Transportation Union (UTU) announced Tuesday evening (April 10) that the UTU membership employed as yard service employees and
conductors at CN, rejected the one-year tentative deal that was reached on February 24th with CN. In a statement to their membership, the UTU said that they
hope to immediately return to the bargaining table. In the meantime, the UTU will set up rotating picket lines at targeted sites across Canada.
The Union has announced that picket lines will be set up immediately starting at 23:59 hours April 10th in Vancouver and Kamloops. This will be followed by
picket activity at Edmonton and Halifax. The Union says that they will inform members at other locations when they are to resume strike action and for what
duration of time.
The UTU has advised both the Federal Minister of Labour Jean-Pierre Blackburn and CN's Vice President of Labour Relations Kim Madigan of the rejected
contract offer and their plans to immediately commence strike action at targeted sites with picket lines being set up immediately in Vancouver and Kamloops.
As the case of picketing back in February, the UTU will not picket any commuter transit operations.
In their letter to CN advising of the rejected contract, the Union also asked to reconvene contract negotiations as early as April 11th and to appreciate that a
renewed offer of settlement must improve on the previous terms and conditions that have been rejected by UTU members.
UTU members are now without collective agreement protection, and as such, UTU Vice Presidents John Armstrong and Robert Sharpe wrote to UTU
members to advise them of important information given these circumstances.
In a news release dated April 10th, CN says that they are prepared for rotating labour action by UTU-Canada. CN says that management officers are ready to
perform the work of striking UTU members and will work hard to maintain service for its customers.
CN President and CEO Hunter Harrison said: "CN is disappointed with the contract rejection announced by the UTU. We believe the settlement was fair,
equitable and consistent with collective agreements the company recently signed with another Canadian union."
The final results of the UTU ratification vote was 20.56% in favour of the contract, while 79.44% opposed it. The ratification ballots were counted and scrutinized
at the UTU's Ottawa offices on April 10th. In their statement to UTU members, the Union said that "UTU members have spoken clearly and your union has
heard you. You want a better deal with CN Rail. We will do our very best to get you that deal."
On February 23rd, the Federal Government tabled back-to-work legislation in the House of Commons to end the two-week labour dispute between the UTU
and CN. But based on a tentative agreement being reached, Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said that the government would suspend the back-to-work
legislation on the condition striking UTU members returned to work during the ratification process, which they did. It is not certain if the government will again
table and vote to force UTU members back-to-work. Rotating pickets may postpone this type of action by the government.
cawcouncil4000.com will continue to monitor this story and post updates as they become available.
CAW members are reminded, as they were in February, that in the event of possible UTU picket lines being set up at your work locations, you are legally
required to report to work. However, its is CN’s legal obligation to ensure your safe entry into your workplace. The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB)
has recognized that employees are not forced to cross a picket line if there is an "imminent threat of danger" to those employees. An "imminent threat of
danger" as determined by the CIRB exists only in situations where there is a high probability of harm or injury to the individual when crossing a picket line. In
such cases, members MUST first notify CN to arrange for safe passage through the picket line. If they do not, then members may refuse to cross.
The CAW continues to support the UTU in their struggle to attain a fair settlement on behalf of their CN membership.
If any problem or question arises in either respect, you are requested to immediately contact a full-time union representative for assistance: Contact your
Regional Representative (Council 4000), Regional Vice-President (Local 100), or a CAW National Representative, who in turn will deal with CN management
on your behalf.
The CAW also recommends that all CAW members exercise their legal right as in accordance Section 94(3)(c) of the Canada Labour Code and refuse to
perform any work normally done by UTU members who are off on rotating strike action.
Related: UTU and CN reach a tentative settlement - Back-to-work legislation pending
CAW continues their support of the striking UTU across Canada