Canadian Pacific heads toward a strike beginning Saturday after midnight

The Canadian Pacific rail system is set to shut down just after midnight Saturday with the commencement of a strike by its two key unions.  

In a statement released to customers late Thursday, CP said that it had “commenced and will continue to executive a safe and structured shutdown of its train operations in Canada.” The two unions–the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Train & Engine (TCRC) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)–have set a strike notice for 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. 

CP also immediately implemented an embargo on application for shipments on “all shipments originating in Canada which are billed to any Canadian or U.S. destinations” and “all shipments originate in the United States which are billed to any Canadian destinations.”

But the statement also noted that the embargo could be rescinded at any time. In a news release, the company quoted Keith Creel, the President and CEO, as saying that CP was going to present the IBEW with a revised contract offer late on Thursday. In the statement, CP said it had made “significant movement” in a Monday bargaining session with the TCRC.

But late Thursday, the TCRC released a statement that it said was in reaction to a CP claim that “the unions are attempting to take the company hostage.” “If CP is a victim, then they’re a victim of their own aggressive behaviour and they must finally be feeling the consequences of their actions,” TCRC President Doug Finnson was quoted as saying in the statement. 

In an analyst note Thursday, Jason Seidl of Cowen & Co. said CP management, on its first quarter earnings call, “appeared to sound like they were willing to take some short term pain in an effort to position the company properly for the future. Hence the likelihood of a strike at this point remains high in our opinion.” Still, that was only a small part of the report; a strike would be viewed only as a “near term risk” for the company.

The road to the possible walkout began with the unions filing a 72-hour notice of an intention to strike, as it would be required to do under Canadian law.

(Editor’s note: an earlier version had graphics referring to Canadian National.) 

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

One Comment

  1. Good for them! Needs to be done by other railroad employees also. This railroad mythology and the greed of money and poor leadership is destroying all the railroads and will! Little by little. You the disgusting ceos and all the ones way down that follow are and have tarnished the good railroads name that was so reputable for hundreds of years. You idiots will reap what you sow. Also! Dont take these strikes lightly! Employees are standing up for themselves, or quitting these days. No matter what you pay people , the communities, the government, and the employees have had enough with your disgusting mythology, tactics, and the way you treat employees. Learn a lesson or feel the burn of a future failing in all railroads that follow under the new regime!

  2. The railroads aren’t killing themselves. They’re in better shape than anytime in history. Operating ratio in unbelievable low for the rail industry.

  3. But if a railroad goes under, who will be the winner. The rich will stop making more money and the workers will be out of a job, looking for a minimum wage job, with no union