|CN states downturn in traffic and weak U.S. economy behind recent CAW Local 4001 layoffs
|In the past couple of weeks, members of CAW Local 4001 (CAW National Council 4000 Mountain Region) have been served with job abolishment notices at
CN. On April 18th, members employed at the Western Canada Region Crew Management Centre (CMC) based in Edmonton were advised that CN was
abolishing one Crew Dispatching desk on each shift (days, afternoon and midnights). And on Wednesday, May 14th, CN laid off four employees at their new
Transload/Intermodal Centre at Prince George. The Company cites a downturn in traffic in both cases based on the weakened U.S. economy.
The Prince George Transload/Intermodal reductions are also factored by the fact that the traffic from the recently expanded Port of Prince Rupert has not
materialized as was expected at this point. In addition to a slowdown to the economy in the U.S., container imports from Asian markets are down some 30-
40%, meaning the present workload is simply not there to sustain the present job numbers.
In discussions CN has had with the union’s Regional Representative Barry Kennedy, they say that they are hopeful that traffic will pick up in the coming months
to the point that workers may be recalled. Kennedy says that he and Local representatives are working with representatives from the CN Transload operations
to place laid off members in other work locations at Prince George that may be experiencing shortages in staff for the summer vacation season. Members also
have rights under their collective agreement to exercise their seniority within the region, in addition the terminal if they can hold.
In the case of the reductions at the CMC, the union is in the process of competing a study on whether the workload of CAW represented Crew Dispatchers has
actually lessened to the extent of justifying job reductions.
“Its probably safe to say that traffic is down a bit stemming from a slower economy at present, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the workload performed
by our CMC members has lessened”, says Kennedy. “CN may be running smaller trains, but that doesn’t mean fewer trains than normal. Our members may
still have the same levels of train and yard crews to administer and call, and the level of incoming inquiries from running trade employees (conductors,
locomotive engineers and yard service employees) may be the same. This is what needs to be determined by our study," explained Kennedy.
The union will be following up with CN this week concerning both the CMC and Prince George Transload/Intermodal reductions.