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Unifor holding strike votes with CN workers

Unifor holding strike votes with CN workers

All CN agreements with Unifor expired on Dec. 31, 2022

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Unionized employees at one of Canada’s national railways may be headed towards a strike.

On Feb. 17, Unifor announced talks between it and Canadian National Rail (CN) have broken off and the union would be starting strike votes.

Unifor is negotiating on behalf of about 3,000 mechanics, clerical workers and intermodal staff. In total, Unifor has five contracts with CN.

All of those contracts expired on Dec. 31, 2022, but the sides have been at the table since Oct. 19. And since Dec. 16, federal conciliators have been involved in the negotiation process.

CN tabled an offer on Feb. 14 it thought addressed the necessary issues.

“The offer includes increases in net pay and benefits,” CN said in a Feb. 17 release. “It also resolves outstanding issues between the parties and provides improved working conditions for all represented employees.”

Unifor tabled its own offer but the details of that offer are unknown.

But “instead of showing respect to our members’ demands, the company completely ignored them and instead put forth an offer demanding significant concessions,” Dave Kissack, president for Unifor Council 4000, which represents intermodal, clerical and mechanical staff, said in a statement.

These concessions, Unifor says, include accrued vacation entitlements, removal of the consent to early retirement (age 55) and a benefit plan that doesn’t expand coverage and could see employees pay out of pocket for certain benefits.

If these Unifor workers do go on strike, CN doesn’t “expect any labour action to impact our operations,” the company said.

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