CP rail strike vote caps frustrating shipping year

More than 3,600 workers at Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) including train conductors and locomotive engineers were poised to go on strike May 29, adding further frustration to what’s already been described as a disastrous shipping year.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council No. 11 on May 26 served Canadian Pacific (CP) with notice of intent to strike.

Workers represented by the two unions were required to give CP at least 72 hours advance notice before initiating a strike.

Barring a negotiated settlement with CP, workers represented by both unions could be on the picket line as early as May 29 at8 pm CST. 

TCRC and IBEW members rejected CP’s final contract offer last week in a vote administered by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

Conductors and locomotive engineers voted 98.1 percent in favour of rejecting CP’s final offer.

Signal and communications workers represented by IBEW voted 97.2 percent in favour of strike action.

After results of the vote were announced, TCRC officials said they were still open to the idea of resuming talks and reaching a negotiated settlement.

But within a day, TCRC negotiators issued a strike notice, saying CP’s position had not changed.

“CP is offering more of the same contract language that workers just voted to reject a few hours ago,” said TCRC president Doug Finnson in a May 26 statement.“The company clearly isn’t serious about reaching a negotiated settlement and delivering on their promise to do right by their employees.”

“We have given CP every reasonable opportunity to negotiate and avoid a strike,” added IBEW official Steve Martin.

“But sadly that has led us nowhere. “

Representatives from both unions said they were still willing to remain at the bargaining table until the May 29 strike deadline and beyond.

In its own statement, CP said it would continue to meet with the TCRC and the IBEW in the hopes of reaching agreements that are in the best interests of the company, as well as shareholders, customers and the North American economy.

CP said it has commenced a work stoppage contingency plan and will work closely with customers to ensure a “smooth, efficient and safe wind down of operations.”

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