The earliest date of job action is March 21
By Diego Flammini
Unionized employees at Canadian National Railway could walk off the job in the next two weeks.
Members of Unifor Local 100 and Council 4000 members voted 98 and 97 per cent in favour of a strike, respectively.
In total, about 3,600 mechanics, clerical workers and intermodal staff could be on strike as early as March 21, following a 72-hour notice.
Unifor has five contracts with CN. All of those expired Dec. 31, 2022, and the two parties have been negotiating since Oct. 19. CN and Unifor reps are scheduled to meet again the week of March 13.
The near unanimous support for a strike shows employees are united in receiving fair compensation for their role in helping CN succeed, said Lana Payne, national president for Unifor.
"CN continues to report record quarterly earnings as a result of the work of Unifor members. In a time of massive profits, rail workers deserve to be compensated fairly and treated with respect. With these strike mandates they have shown they are united in these demands,” she said in a March 7 statement.
CN last pitched an offer to Unifor on Feb. 14, which included pay increases and addressed “outstanding issues,” the railway said.
But employees aren’t supportive of the offer.
The proposal also includes a change to the age for early retirement. It would go from 55 with a minimum of 30 years of service, to 65 by the end of 2023.
And the wage increases aren’t sufficient enough, employees say.
“We need the company to withdraw what we view as concessions and then we’d be prepared to continue trying to find common ground,” Bruce Snow, a national Unifor rep, told the Toronto Star.
It is unclear what Unifor’s other demands are.
“The Union does not bargain publicly…,” Unifor says.
Should the affected employees go on strike, CN is confident it can continue to operate normally.
The railway doesn’t “expect any labour action to impact our operations,” it said in a Feb. 17 statement.