Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CP Rail Talks to Resume in Calgary after Unions Reject Railway Offer

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CP Rail Talks to Resume in Calgary after Unions Reject Railway Offer

Article excerpt

CP Rail to resume union negotiations

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Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. is set to resume talks with its train operators and signalling workers after they overwhelmingly rejected the company's contract offer, leaving its already disgruntled customers fearing a labour disruption that could further affect their businesses.

About 3,000 members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference voted 98.1 per cent against the company's final offer Friday. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents 365 signal and communications workers, voted about 97 per cent against the offer.

The results comes after the government intervened last month to force union members to vote on the company's offer just before a strike deadline, ending mediated talks between the railway and two unions.

The unions said they will work with federal mediators, but are prepared to exercise their right to strike if talks fail or the company does not wish to bargain. They could issue a 72-hour strike notice at any time

The results come after union negotiators recommended that members reject the officer.

"CP's actions have forced us to vote for strike action three times in the past six years. Today, our members have again expressed their anger and frustration with CP," Doug Finnison, president of the Teamsters Rail Conference, said in a news release.

"It's now up to CP to listen and show they respect workers by changing their confrontational relationship with their employees, our members."

Talks were set to resume Friday afternoon in Calgary in an attempt to achieve an agreement and avoid a work stoppage. CP Rail train crews have engaged in two strikes in the past few years. In 2015, they ended a brief walkout and agreed to arbitration after the Harper government warned of back-to-work legislation. Three years earlier, federal back-to-work legislation was enacted to end a 10-day strike.

CP Rail said it was disappointed with the outcome of the vote given that both final offers provided for "significant improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions that are consistent with agreements recently reached with other CP unions in both the United States and Canada."

Negotiations were set to restart with agricultural customers warning that they can't afford to see a work stoppage after seeing their livelihoods threatened when grain shipping came to halt because of extreme cold.

"The railroads are finally delivering a little bit better service than they have for the past six months and we're still over 20,000 rail cars behind so we certainly don't have any time to have a work stoppage now," said Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. …

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