|Teamsters file application with CIRB to certify CN UTU Conductors: UTU files protest with CLC citing a raid by Teamsters
|On March 1, 2007, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) filed an application with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) for certification of
approximately 2,500 Conductors and Yard Service Employees employed by CN, employees currently represented by the United Transportation Union (UTU),
who are in the process of ratifying a one-year contract that was just negotiated with CN. The deal came following a two-week strike by UTU members.
Ratification results will be known on March 26th, which is when the mail-in ballots are counted in the UTU's Ottawa offices.
In a recent press release, the newly elected President of the TCRC, Dan Shewchuk, said: "UTU members have made it loud and clear. They want to belong to
the same labour body as CN's Locomotive Engineers. We feel that we are obviously their best choice as we work side by side in the cab of the locomotive and
represent a large portion of all rail workers." The TCRC news release went on to say that decisions made by UTU officers in the United States have motivated
Canadian UTU members to join the Teamsters.
"The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference is an autonomous body within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. UTU members are aware of that and are
very happy to be joining our ranks. They will finally have the ability to regain control of their union," added Shewchuk.
The TCRC currently represents CN and CP Rail Locomotive Engineers and Rail Traffic Controllers, as well as Conductors, Yard Service Employees and
Maintenance of Way Employees at CP.
UTU-Canada Vice Presidents John Armstrong and Robert Sharpe, in a notice to CN UTU members urging them to accept the tentative one-year agreement,
said: "as if the government and our dispute with CN weren't making our lives difficult enough, everything is further complicated by the fact that the international
Teamsters union has tried hard to split our ranks. In our view, they have broken both the spirit of trade unionism and the tradition of the Canadian labour
movement by conducting a raid during our legal strike."
"We have a federal government that threatens to legislate away your rights and force you into Russian Roulette arbitration. And, as if all that was not enough,
the International Teamsters Union has been turning brother against brother, sister against sister, dividing us at the very moment when we need to unite to win
a good collective agreement. We are so saddened that another union – the union of some of our fellow employees at CN – would stoop so low as to raid us
while we are in this crisis and contract dispute/strike situation with CN," added the UTU VPs.
The UTU has filed a formal protest with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The CIRB will render its decision on the TCRC certification within the next few
weeks. In the meantime, the UTU continues with its ratification of their one-year contract that was reached tentatively with CN on February 24th.
The UTU faced several challenges at the bargaining table and while their members were engaged in legal strike action – continue to negotiate the removal of
many concessionary demands that CN still had on the bargaining table; deal with internal problems that caused the UTU to remove it's four elected Canadian
General Chairpersons; challenge the Teamsters decision in their soliciting UTU members at CN picket lines to sign Teamsters union cards; and to beat the
clock on the government's threat of back-to-work legislation. The Federal Government introduced back-to-work legislation, Bill C-46, on February 23rd, 2007.
This Bill will mandate that the Federal Government appoint an arbitrator of their choice to resolve all outstanding matters by “Final Offer Selection.”
The government suspended Bill C-46 pending the results of the UTU ratification vote. Should UTU members turn down the tentative deal, the government is
expected to immediately call a vote in the House of Commons to enact the legislation (Bill C-46) and restrict UTU members from re-exercising their strike
action. The UTU and CN would not return to the bargaining table, instead, a final contract would be settled by Final Offer Selection process.
The UTU says that a "one-year contract gives us options." UTU VPs Armstrong and Sharpe say that "because it is a one- year deal, we all have the opportunity,
to reflect on our future while knowing that if we accept this contract, we can be back at bargaining next fall without the threat of back-to-work legislation and Final
As Bill C-46 (UTU-CN back-to-work legislation) is left hanging, another piece of labour legislation is expected to be voted on by Parliament before the end of
March; Bill C-257, legislation that will restrict the use of replacement workers in the Federal sector is expected to go to vote as early as March 21st. The CLC
and its various affiliates, including the CAW, will be sending another large lobby team to Ottawa the week of March 18th, the same as what was done in October
2006, where the efforts of the CLC lobby paid off, and Bill C-257 passed second reading by Parliament. Third and final reading appears that it will be more
challenging based on recent news that the Federal Liberals, who supported the legislation in second reading, have backed away in supporting the Bill.
cawcouncil4000.com will continue to monitor these events.
UTU-CN reach tentative deal - Back to work legislation pending
CIRB rules UTU strike is legal - Feds consider back-to-work order
Take Action - Support Anti-Scab Legislation: Bill C-257