MONTREAL — Thousands of railroaders could walk off the job in two weeks after members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference voted to go on strike against Canadian Pacific Railway starting March 16, should a final round of contract talks fail.
The Teamsters started polling members on a possible strike last month and announced this week that 96.7 percent of members voted in favor. The Teamsters and the railroad are still working with federal mediators to try and come up with a solution to their differences but if that is unsuccessful a strike would start on March 16.
The union says the main issues at hand included disagreements on wages, benefits, and pensions. The Canadian government has appointed a conciliator/mediator to work with CP and the union to find common ground. Teamsters Canada represents 3,000 CP employees in train service.
In a statement, CP officials blamed the Teamsters’ leadership for the challenges during contract negotiations.
“CP has an excellent track record of successful collective bargaining with our unions; unfortunately, the TCRC has relied on federal conciliation in eight of the nine collective bargaining negotiations since 1993. We have offered a fair and balanced agreement, including wage increases, for a two-year collective agreement, and have agreed to 20 union demands on benefits and work rules in order to achieve labor certainty and stability for the next two years,” CP officials told Railfan & Railroad. “Now, once again, CP is focused on arriving at a negotiated outcome that is in the best interests of all our employees and their families, our customers, our shareholders and the overall Canadian economy. The TCRC leadership, however, appears poised to force a shutdown of the essential rail supply chain, jeopardizing Canada’s national economy, by making unreasonable demands. As a result, a work stoppage at CP could occur in March.”