• DATVF.VSU
    1.369
    0.089
    7%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.049
    0.080
    8.3%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.715
    -0.019
    -1.1%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    1.306
    -0.001
    -0.1%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.773
    0.050
    2.9%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.690
    0.099
    6.2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.570
    0.043
    2.8%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.996
    0.029
    3%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.625
    0.059
    3.8%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.124
    -0.038
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.107
    0.099
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,297.120
    -58.780
    -0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    8.320
    0.070
    0.8%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,315.280
    -58.610
    -0.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.610
    0.010
    0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    158.000
    8.000
    5.3%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.369
    0.089
    7%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.049
    0.080
    8.3%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.715
    -0.019
    -1.1%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    1.306
    -0.001
    -0.1%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.773
    0.050
    2.9%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.690
    0.099
    6.2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.570
    0.043
    2.8%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.996
    0.029
    3%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.625
    0.059
    3.8%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.124
    -0.038
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.107
    0.099
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,297.120
    -58.780
    -0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    8.320
    0.070
    0.8%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,315.280
    -58.610
    -0.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.610
    0.010
    0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    158.000
    8.000
    5.3%
CanadaIntermodalNewsRailTrucking

Feds double down on talks for quick end to CN strike

Transport Minister Marc Garneau insists that a deal between Candian National and Teamsters offers the best way to get trains moving again as walkout by 3,200 workers hits Canada’s supply chain and threatens the economy.

The Canadian government renewed pressure on Canadian National (NYSE: CNI) and its striking rail workers to reach an agreement, saying a deal offered the fastest way to end an increasingly costly disruption to the country’s supply chain – and economy.

“It is something that is having a considerable impact on Canadians,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters Nov. 22. “CN is a major supplier of products across the entire country. So we want to resolve this as quickly as possible.” 

Garneau made the comments in Quebec, where the reduced flow of trains has left the province with dangerously low supplies of propane, a vital source of heating for many.  

Despite calls to bring Parliament into session early to force an end to the strike, Garneau said federally mediated talks between CN and the Teamster Rail Conference represented the “fastest way to resolve this.”

Nearly four days into the strike by conductors, trainpersons and yard workers, the ripple through Canada’s supply chain has intensified across the country as pressure mounted on the federal government to end the strike through mediation or legislation.

“Brutal” freight conditions in Toronto, trucking executive says

A Teamsters picket line outside a CN facility. Photo: Teamsters Canada

Beyond Quebec, the reduced movement of CN freight hurt oil-by-rail shipments in Alberta — itself a temporary measure. For trucking, the strike threw a curveball at a freight market contending with excess capacity and softer volumes of freight.

“Toronto is brutal,” Corey Darbyson, director of Transport Dsquare, a small Quebec-based carrier, wrote in a text message to FreightWaves on Nov. 21.

At CN’s Toronto-area terminal in Brampton, Ontario, trucks contended with picket lines to access curtailed intermodal operations. 

CN has remained tight-lipped about its operations during the strike. But Garneau told reporters that CN management indicated that its network was operating at about 10% capacity, with managers filling in for the striking conductors.

At the Port of Halifax, linked to CN’s network through on-dock access, car shipper AutoPort abruptly issued layoff notices to employees, according to the union Unifor.

Experts: Strike could shave C$3.1 billion from Canada’s economy

As the fallout intensifies, the pressure will mount on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconvene Parliament early to legislate the CN workers back on the job. If the strike lasts until the next parliamentary session on Dec. 5, TD economists Brian DePratto and Derek Burleton projected the Canadian economy could lose C$3.1 billion.

For now, CN and officials from the Teamster Rail Conference, the union representing the conductors, trainpersons and yard workers, remain in federally mediated contract talks. Working conditions and benefits appear to be sticking points, with the Teamsters demanding remedies for what they consider unsafe working conditions.

CN has been quiet since the strike began, but CEO JJ Ruest issued a statement Nov. 21 proposing that the two sides enter into binding arbitration.

Ruest suggested that CN had made proposals to alleviate safety concerns.

“Safety is a core value at CN. Although the union has claimed that the strike was about safety, those statements do not reflect our discussions,” Ruest said. “For the safety concerns raised, we have proposed viable solutions because we want all employees to go home safely at the end of their shift.”

The Teamsters said, however, that binding arbitration was a nonstarter. Spokesperson Christopher Monette said the union was sympathetic to fears over the effects of the strike on Canada’s supply chain and economy.

“We understand the economic issues,” Monette said. “Ultimately we don’t think anyone should die trying to transport propane.”

FreightWaves staff writer Joanna Marsh contributed to this story.

Tags
Show More

Nate Tabak, Canada Correspondent

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist who covers Canada for FreightWaves. He spent seven years as an investigative reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley.

16 Comments

  1. Listen to Todd Doherty , Cariboo Prince George MP on CKPG News talk about issues that were brought up almost 2 years ago in regards to CN’s poor rail performance and CN”s monopoly .

    CN Rail strike affects much more than it seems
    Nov 22, 2019

  2. I HOPE TRUCKERS ARE PAYING ATTENTION . OBTAINING PUBLIC SUPPORT IS WHAT A SUCCESSFUL “MOVEMENT ” IS ALL ABOUT !

    Quote :

    CN Rail workers strike in Terrace as part of national movement
    Employees say long, unpredictable hours are a public safety concern

    “The strikers take turns warming up at a fire by the train yard entrance nearby. Ridler says this is his first time taking part in a strike and was surprised how supportive the community has been these past few days.

    “It’s actually amazing to see… people are honking and buying us coffee, just totally supportive and coming to talk to us about the cause about what’s been going on,” he says.

    “They want the public to look at us and be like we’re greedy but that’s not it. We’re doing this for our safety and yours… It’s about quality of life and that to me is a lot more important than making money.”


  3. UPDATE Friday, November 22, 2019 4:25PM EST

    Quote in parts:

    “Despite CN Rail strike, Parliament won’t be recalled before Dec. 5: House leader

    OTTAWA – Despite calls from federal and provincial leaders to recall Parliament early in light of the CN Rail strike, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez says the first day of the new Parliament will remain Dec. 5.
    “The date set is Dec. 5 and that’s what’s going to happen,” Rodriguez said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period host Evan Solomon.  ”

    Now “that’s” CLEAR !

    Quote :

    “We believe that mediation, collective bargaining, is the right way to do this, we’ve looked at the situation and we feel that the two sides need to be talking to each other,” Garneau said.

    Should the strike still be happening by then it’s likely the Liberals would have the support of the Conservatives to pass a bill forcing the striking CN Rail workers back on the job.

    Generally speaking, Rodriguez said that the Liberal approach to finding support to advance its agenda in the new Parliament will be done “issue by issue.”

    “Fighting climate change is very important for us, so we of course will be discussing that with the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois. On the other hand we also want to reduce taxes for the middle class, so we can discuss that with the Conservatives, so piece by piece,” Rodriguez said.

    “We have to find people, dancing partners that will move forward with us on those priorities. If there’s tweaking to do here and there, it could be possible, it depends. We’re working on the throne speech, let’s see what it is.”
    End quote

    Re-quote:
    “We have to find people, dancing partners ”

    IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO ! LOL (wink)

    And as Shania Twain so eloquently put it :

    “Noah knew what he had to do
    Ooh, oh, yeah
    He sent us out in the world walkin’ two by two”

    Quote:
    “The tango is a dance which requires two partners moving in relation to each other, sometimes in tandem, sometimes in opposition. The meaning of this expression has been extended to include any situation in which the two partners are by definition understood to be essential—as in, a marriage with only one partner ceases to be a marriage. ”

    End quote .

    Shareholders should vote for a change in management . The current CEO has proven that he can’t resolve the situation , and due to such demands a binding arbitration .

    Secondly , due to not resolving the current labour issue favorably and rapidly with shareholder primacy in mind , management caused a work stoppage due to poor decisions in the matter which lead to a reduction in current CN Rail Freight Shipments , negatively affecting CN’s earnings in the process during a contracting economic environment . Furthermore , current poor management decisions in the matter are causing client uproar due to unsatisfactory services which is tarnishing CN’s reputation in regards to reliability .

    I strongly recommend a shareholder vote for a change in management .

    In my humble opinion ………

    1. …..
      If the CN BOD had a bona fide ” contingency plan ” in case of a potential labour strike , certain customers wouldn’t be facing a crisis due management’s incompetence , nor would shareholders be nervous about negative earnings and share value declining consequences . Oh but that’s the “economy’s” fault , right ? LOL !

      It’s not like this was the first labour strike CN has experienced nor is it the first that they induced . .

      There is NOthing that will CONvince me that CN management isn’t responsible for the current ordeal . Because if they were to even dare and say it isn’t their “fault'” and attempt to play “victim” , then clearly they would be admitting that they are not in a position of control in their business . And if that’s the case , then they should simply resign . Shareholders need “LEADERS” at the helm that can control whether a business is profitable or not at ALL times .

      Harrison was certainly a legend for increasing profits and increasing efficiency , however, at what cost ? Change ? His concept has flaws . Change in what ? Over working rail design by adding more cars and increasing train length than it can handle safely ? How many lives have been lost since this ingenious “change” has been implemented ? How many derailments ? How much damage has been caused to the environment ? How many employees have lost their jobs or been injured on the job ? How many more have been taking on more risk at their job ? Precision Scheduled Railroading = Increasing Potential Security Risks .

      Legislation should certainly be implemented . It should state that each time a rail worker dies on the job the company should have to pay $1 Billion in damages and not a penny less . It should also state that each time a train and or its cars derail it should pay victims due to the damage they have endured no less than $1 Billion each . How is that for “change ” ? You increase the “risk” and legislation increases the penalty . Fair enough ? No ?

      Then what ? Then you’ll start thinking a little more cleverly and take more responsible actions in your so called increasing profit changes or PSR abusive tactics .

      There is no excuse for your mismanagement . You have access to BILLIONS ! YOU HAVE A MONOPOLY ! You can hire all the specialists you need to assure that your increase in profits strategies don’t come at the demise of your employees , environment , and the public . Hire your engineers , have feasibility studies conducted , and act like responsible professionals .

      Some of you have these Hedge Fund wizards sitting on your BOD’s . Why can’t they suggest pioneering ideas to increase profits and reduce costs without squeezing the one’s at the “bottom who help you achieve such success ? You’re always talking about increasing services , increasing market share , increasing growth , IT TAKES EMPLOYEES TO GET THERE !

      Then the moment , oops the economy slows , you get all freaking jittery and cut off the one’s who helped you increase your profits . And you people have Harvard educations ??? I guess that goes to show that education doesn’t render one smart .

      Your trains are from the dinosaur era . That haven’t evolved much from the steam train era . Your rail designs are out of date as well in regards to what you’re imposing on them .

      You have people in certain municipalities complaining about the vibration , sound , smell , and DISTURBANCE your dinosaur designed trains are causing them . Most of your tracks are unprotected and insecure !

      If I decide to really hone in and analyse everything about this business I’ll find an abundance of negligence and ill thought designs beyond galore . Why is that ? Simply because you’re not perfect and you’ve been blinded and negligent due to greed !

      In reality , from what I have seen thus far , you can realistically generate more profits beyond your wildest imaginations without breaking your heads to generate the pennies you currently are at the expense of what I have mentioned above .

      However , you would need all the help you could get . And that means more employees not less . While you’re fighting to save pennies against the one’s you need to generate dollars , you’re losing out on an abundance of dollars . Get your priorities straight ! Current management still stubbornly applies the primitive mentality from the dinosaur era .

      The same with the trucking industry any many others . However , the “trucking industry ” has been leaning a little more into applying technology lately . However, that industry is also quite a can of worms . And why ? That industry pressured employees and overworked them to inhumane extremes . And eventually the can of worms erupted and caught the publics eye due to too much abuse .

      And just like Harrison decided to implement disciplinary actions , those actions unfortunately need to be applied to management as well . Otherwise it leads to chaos . And chaos it has lead to in the trucking industry and also in the rail industry . So like little children you need to be “told” what is acceptable and not . Cause you very well know the difference between what is right and not , however, YOU decide to ignore it . WHY ? For capital gain ?

      I’d be freaking embarrassed if I were in your position . The union is currently telling you that what YOU CN chose to do and have done is WRONG !

      Stop trying to find ways around it . Be honorable and accept it , and rectify your wrongs . Why is it that our primitive mentalities always tries to find a short cut and try to get away with what we genuinely know is unethical ?

      Anyways , this is quite entertaining to say the least .

      In my humble opinion ……………

  4. Quote:

    “In fall 2011, Harrison was approached by the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management led by activist investor Bill Ackman, who was undertaking a proxy battle with the board of directors of CPR. Ackman had offered at that time to appoint Harrison as President and Chief Executive Officer of CPR should his proxy battle in spring 2012 be successful, which would necessarily result in the termination of Fred Green as President and CEO. Ackman was ultimately successful in the proxy battle at the CPR’s annual shareholder meeting on May 17, 2012. On June 29, 2012, Harrison was appointed President and CEO of CPR”

    May he rest in peace .

    However, even though a legend , he also unfortunately lead CN into a strike .

    Quote :
    “Mr. Harrison appeared conciliatory toward the CAW during the call. Indeed, at least for public consumption, he said the strike was mostly a result of management’s failure to do a better job at communicating the need for change at the company to the workers who went on strike.

    “I think the real issue was the management of change,” Mr. Harrison said. “I keep forgetting people don’t like change.” He said a key challenge for the company now is “to try to repair the relations with the CAW [so that]we don’t go through this experience again.”

    Quote :

    “Harrison did not claim to invent precision railroading, but he was its most celebrated proponent. His mentor, “Pisser” Bill Thompson, a fearsome John Wayne-type who made Harrison seem like Mother Theresa, taught his cocky protege a fundamental principle: the fewer cars in the yard, the better. “You keep moving boxcars, I’ll keep writing cheques,” Thompson told him.”

    RE-QUOTE !

    ” fundamental principle: the fewer cars in the yard, the better” !!!

    You can read :

    “Hunter Harrison and the Transformation of Canadian National Railway A Case Study of the Five Ps of Cultural Change”
    Passion, Plan, Persuasion, Partnering and Perseverance, and Harrison had all of them in abundance.”

    1. My apologies for leaving out the ending part of my first quote :

      Here it is once again along with the omitted ending part .

      Quote:
      “In the fall of 2011, Harrison was approached by the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management led by activist investor Bill Ackman, who was undertaking a proxy battle with the board of directors of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Ackman was ultimately successful in the proxy battle, the CEO was dismissed and on June 29, 2012, Harrison was appointed President and CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway, the main Canadian competitor of CNR. Peter Edwards joined him soon after and so began the transformation of CPR. Its stock went from $74.72 on June 30, 2012 to a high of $241.67 in October 2014.”

      Now the main point is :

      Had the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management led by activist investor Bill Ackman not undertaken a proxy battle with the BOD of CPR , the CPR CEO wouldn’t have been dismissed and replaced with Mr. Hunter Harrison and thereby improving CPR and increasing its value 324% in 2 and a 1/4 years in the process !

      Now that’s LEADERSHIP !

      In my humble opinion .

  5. AGAIN !

    Furthermore , look at where Harrison came from !

    He began as a simple Rail yard worker oiling car wheels , LOL and worked his way at the top and flipped your industry around .

    That kind of tells us the public quite a bit about “management” expertise . If it weren’t for an uneducated street smart Harrison , the Rail industry would still be carrying a candle rather than a flashlight , LOL !

    Moral of the story , don’t spit on your greatest assets , your ’employees . Unless you’re afraid that they just may have what it takes to replace you at the top and render Rail even more profitable .

    In my humble opinion ……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close