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Thursday, December 03, 2009

CN, TCRC reach agreement to end strike

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The strike by locomotive engineers at CN will end immediately as a result of an agreement to resolve the parties' contractual disagreements through further negotiations and, if necessary, binding arbitration. The union began its strike Nov. 28 and the agreement came after Ottawa introduced "back-to-work" legislation on Monday to end the strike.

CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference have agreed to continue negotiations to resolve all issues related to wages, benefits and work rules. If there is no agreement, the parties' wages and benefits offers will be subject to final, binding arbitration.

The key issue leading up to the strike was CN's decision to increase engineers' wages by 1.5 percent and raise its monthly mileage cap to 4,300 miles from 3,800 miles. TCRC-represented conductors currently have a 4,300-mile monthly cap and TCRC-represented engineers have a 3,800-mile monthly cap. Under the new rule, both groups working in a cab would be held to one consistent standard.

As part of this process, CN will roll back the monthly mileage cap for locomotive engineers to the previous 3,800 miles from the 4,300-mile cap initiated Nov. 28, and withdraw its plan to apply a 1.5 per cent wage increase to TCRC members. The union's current contract expired on Dec. 31, 2008.

The parties can also agree to submit work-rule issues to binding arbitration but only if they mutually agree on the ones that should be subject to arbitration. If there is no agreement, the issues in dispute will not be subject to arbitration.

E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive officer, said, "CN is pleased that an agreement has been reached to end the strike by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference immediately and to move forward with a process that gives the parties flexibility to negotiate issues further, but also ensures finality through binding arbitration of issues that remain in dispute. We have always sought, since starting negotiations 14 months ago, to achieve a settlement with the TCRC through negotiations or binding arbitration."