|UTU / CN Strike Update
|The labour dispute between the United Transportation Union (UTU) and CN continues as it enters into its second week since the UTU membership rejected a
one-year contract offer from CN.
The UTU membership appears openly divided as many members are defying instructions to commence rotating strike action at targeted areas and instead,
are opting to stay working. Some, despite small numbers, are showing up on some picket lines set up across the country. But CN, surprisingly, is locking out
UTU members, even those who wish to remain working. CN has locked out UTU members at several locations after the UTU announced rotating strikes.
Those members who have been locked out are expected to remain locked out until the labour dispute is resolved or the government passes back-to-work
legislation. The whole situation is laden with bad politics on both sides.
Further complicating matters is the application that was filed to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
(TCRC) on March 1st to certify the approximately 2,500 UTU members who are employed at CN. The UTU contends that the TCRC are raiding their Union and
filed a protest with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
The UTU and CN met on April 14th in Montreal, the first time since the one-year contract was voted down. During this meeting, CN refused to consider any
improvements over and above the deal that was rejected by UTU members. No further talks have been scheduled.
In a press release issued today (April 16), CN said that reaching a national, country-wide collective agreement with the UTU to end the current strike will be
difficult based on "continuing internal conflicts within the union,” but said that it has invited the Union back to the bargaining table to address and negotiate
regional settlements, but that no dates have been scheduled. CN proposed regional bargaining at the start of bargaining and the elected UTU Bargaining
Committee opposed the idea.
The federal government plans to bring forward back-to-work legislation that was initially introduced on February 23rd, but suspended based on the tentative
deal that was reached on February 24th. Federal Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn told reporters on Monday (April 16): "Now, it's time to act. Employers
and many groups said they would like to see our government acting," citing the loss of $1 billion in exports during the two-week strike in February.
What's funny is that for the most part, the workers who are being legislated back-to-work are the workers that CN has locked out.
In the meantime, the UTU is in the process of filing a discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against CN following CN CEO Hunter
Harrison's comments last week that the Company needs to recruit younger workers who aren't as focused on pensions, according to a newspaper report by
Brent Jang of The Globe and Mail. UTU spokesman Frank Wilner said on April 12th that Harrison “wants younger workers who he is able to pay less. The
older workers refuse to be harassed and intimidated."
CN spokesman Mark Hallman dismissed the UTU's age discrimination charges. "This is totally without merit. Our policy has been, and will continue to be, to
treat all employees equally."
Below are recent strike updates issued by the UTU [PDF]:
April 12 UTU Strike Actions News April 13 UTU Strike Actions News April 14 UTU Strike Actions News
UTU membership rejects one year contract offer with CN
UTU and CN reach a tentative settlement - Back-to-work legislation pending
CAW continues their support of the striking UTU across Canada