(Source: Progressive Railroading 04/16/2018)
Canadian Pacific and two of its unions — the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – Train & Engine (TCRC) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — are working through the collective bargaining process, the Class I announced late last week.
However, a “significant gap” remains between the railroad and the unions. If an agreement cannot be reached, a work stoppage could occur as early as April 21, CP officials said in a press release.
“We have been working hard with both unions for months, and continue to meet in order to negotiate an agreement that balances the needs of these two unions with the needs of our entire workforce, our customers and our shareholders,” said CP President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Creel. “I made labor outreach my top priority when I became CEO and I continue to focus my efforts on this key area.”
CP has reached long-term agreements with other Canadian unions, including three that were negotiated in 2017, all with the objective of ensuring continuity of reliable and cost-effective rail service, while being fair and equitable to CP’s employees, CP officials said.
Specifically, CP adopted a “pattern” framework to address issues tabled at bargaining and has successfully reached agreement through 2022 with TCRC – Maintenance of Way, United Steel Workers and CP Police Association, they said.
“A work stoppage involving the TCRC and the IBEW will severely impact CP’s ability to continue to provide safe and efficient freight and passenger/commuter service. All customers and commodities would be impacted at a time when demand is soaring,” according to the Class I.
TCRC announced earlier this month that its members at CP voted to authorize a strike. In response to CP’s latest public statement, TCRC officials said in a prepared statement they believe CP is “attempting to manufacture a crisis to force government intervention” and avoid bargaining.
“If CP truly wants to avoid a strike, all they need to do is show up on time at the bargaining table, be prepared to negotiate with the Teamsters, and stop lobbying the government to save them from themselves,” said TCRC President Doug Finnson.
CP acknowledged to the union that the railroad prefers a government-appointed arbitrator over negotiations, according to TCRC.
“Bargaining in a way that leaves the union no choice but to take strike action is one way to force an arbitrated settlement, at the expense of their customers and the economy,” TCRC officials added.
The previous collective agreement with CP expired Dec. 31, 2017. Negotiations for a new pact began Nov. 16, 2017. Federal mediators were brought in Jan. 29.
Meetings between the unions and CP are planned for this week.