Unions threatening strike action against CP Rail

IBEW and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference seeking new collective agreements.

Another union representing signals and communications members employed by CP Rail have overwhelmingly voted for strike authorization on April 21 by a margin of 98 per cent.

The announcement, from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Canadian Signals and Communications System Council No. 11 (IBEW), follows an earlier announcement last week of strike vote authorization from the Teamsters Rail Conference of Canada, which represents locomotive engineers and conductors.

The IBEW represents members who protect the integrity of the railway signal system as well as maintain protection devices at crossings.

The IBEW, TCRC and CP Rail issued duelling press releases over the last few days, with both sides accusing the other of misrepresenting the state of the negotiations.

CP Rail first issued a press release on Friday last week, with CEO Keith Creel affirming his commitment to working with both the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference and the IBEW, noting that agreements have been made with three other unions with members employed by the company.

CP Rail claims that the IBEW has 85 outstanding issues as opposed to four from the company — demands that would add an additional $27 million over three years.

The IBEW union disputes CP claims, accusing the company of misrepresenting the financial impact of the outstanding bargaining issues and CP Rail’s priority of labour outreach.

The two sides have been in negotiations since September 2017, with the union having made revisions to their original proposals, while CP Rail stands firm on theirs, according to a IBEW press release.

“It is fair to say there is a significant gap between the parties and it is questionable to suggest that CP continues to engage in good faith bargaining,” said Steve Martin, Senior General Chairman of IBEW System Council No. 11. “In a true best effort to negotiate a fair and reasonable Memorandum of Settlement, the IBEW has maintained a willingness to continue bargaining without the intent of a work stoppage.”

According to the IBEW, CP Rail has attempted to defer bargaining to binding arbitration and accuses the company of forcing an inevitable work stoppage that would result in government intervention.

Both sides will meet again on Wednesday in Calgary to discuss issues such as the duration of a new collective agreement, expenses, company flexibility in hours of service, days off, and work/life balance, as well as other items.

However, the union admits there is no foreseeable settlement in the near future.

Creel says CP Rail is hopeful that fair agreements can be made with both the TCRC and the IBEW.

“People and safety are part of CP’s core foundations and we are committed to safe operations and a well-rested workforce is an important part of that,” Creel said. “We are more than open to considering scheduling and time off options with the TCRC, and have even proposed pilot projects to do that. However, any proposed changes need to work in concert with our commitment to our 12,000 strong CP family, customers, shareholders and the overall economy.”

The TCRC also fired back in response to CP Rail’s press release, accusing the company of manufacturing a crisis to spark government intervention and called for a return to the bargaining table.

“CP’s adversarial labour relations strategy has failed miserably. There is overwhelming evidence that this discipline based style of labour relations cannot function in Canada and has driven the parties apart,” said TCRC president Doug Finnson.

Across Canada, roughly 3,000 CP Rail employees are members of the TCRC, while the IBEW has roughly 318 members employed by the company.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The track washrooms will be opened up again next year in May. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Toilets, sinks torn off, graffiti on walls at the Burns Lake track washroom

“Seems to happen once or twice a year” says the Village CAO on the vandalized track washroom

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for Stikine candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

The pile burning will occur to the south of François Lake. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Pile burning and rehab work on three areas south of François Lake

Smoke might be visible for Burns Lake and neighboring areas

Participants earlier this year in March for Lakes Loppet at the ski club. (Lakes District News file photo)
How is Omineca Ski Club prepping for this ski season?

Covid restrictions, social distancing but ski season to continue

FOR WEB ONLY. (Lakes District News file photo)
Question Bill C-7, says this reader

Editor: Have you ever felt strongly convicted about something one day and… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Most Read