|CN Locomotive Engineers serve strike notice
Late yesterday (November 24th), the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) served notice to initiate strike action at Canadian
National Railways (CN) effective 00:01 local time, Saturday, November 28, 2009.
The decision to service strike notice came after CN notified the Union they planned to arbitrarily alter the terms and conditions of the
working conditions for approximately 1,700 locomotive engineers.
CN advised the TCRC that it plans to incorporate a 1.5% wage increase coupled with the requirement to have locomotive engineers
work an additional 500 miles per month over the amount required by the present Collective Agreement. This change would require
some of locomotive engineer to work 7 days a week with no time off and cause layoffs within the ranks of the conductors, trainmen
The parties have been assisted by Federal Mediators since August in the hope of renewing their Collective Agreement, which
expired on December 31, 2008, but stalled after CN declined to continue negotiations during their last bargaining session. The
TCRC has offered CN, through the mediators, to withdraw/suspend their strike notice if CN would withdraw/suspend their notice of
the change to the Collective Agreement and get back to the table to negotiate.
“Canadian National Railways has forced us to service strike notice after they informed us of the unilateral change to the terms and
conditions of the Collective Agreement effectively locking out our members” said Daniel J. Shewchuk, President of the TCRC, which
represents CN locomotive engineers, conductors, trainmen and yardmen, “It is obvious to us that CN is counting on the Federal
Government intervention to settle the issues rather exploring solutions to a negotiated agreement.”
“As advised by the Company, these changes are the tip of the iceberg and we cannot sit idly by while CN simply changes the terms
and conditions of the collective agreement. Our members deserve much better than that,” said Shewchuk.
The TCRC is also in the process of filing a complaint of bargaining in bad faith against CN as the situation continues to deteriorate.
CN said in a press release that the TCRC's decision is “unfortunate because a strike is in no one's interest – not the locomotive
engineers, CN's other employees, its customers or the Canadian economy.”
CN believes the Union should agree to submit the issues that are in dispute to binding arbitration before the November 28th strike
deadline. CN said that such an approach is fully consistent with the TCRC's agreement to binding arbitration to end its strike at VIA
Rail Canada in July 2009. In that dispute, the TCRC asked for two per cent wage increases, which CN says is the same as the last
offer they made to the TCRC.
On November 23rd, CN notified the TCRC of its intention to implement one work rule change to the collective agreements and
increase wages by 1.5 per cent effective November 28, 2009. CN says that they decided to invoke these contractual changes to
move the company forward after 14 months of bargaining, where they say no resolution was in sight. The TCRC's last contract with
CN expired on Dec. 31, 2008.
CAW National Council 4000 sent the following message to TCRC President Dan Shewchuk expressing its full support of the
TCRC in this difficult situation in trying to negotiate a fair settlement on behalf of their locomotive engineer membership at CN.