CP's unions reject offer; no 72-hour strike/stoppage issued yet as talks resume

  Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Neither Canadian Pacific nor either of its two unions that just rejected CP’s contract offer has issued a work stoppage order in the face of the Friday defeat of that proposal.

Such a 72-hour notice is necessary before the railroad can stop operations or a union can go on strike. Unions did issue that notice back in April, but a strike did not occur as the unions agreed that the CP offer could be put to its members.

The contract offers that were rejected were not an agreement between the unions and CP, but instead was an offer made by CP to the workers. The unions had recommended rejection, and the vote to reject was reported to be close to 98%. CP and its unions have gone through three strikes in recent years.

Negotiations were due to resume yesterday in Calgary following the vote.

“Should talks fail or CP not wish to bargain, workers will have no choice but to exercise their legal right to strike,” the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, one of the two unions that rejected the contract offer, said in a prepared statement.  

The other union that rejected the offer was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers System Council No. 11.

In the Teamsters’ prepared statement, TCRC President Doug Finnson ripped into CP. “CP’s actions have forced us to vote for strike action three times in the past six years,” he said. “Today, our members have again expressed their anger and frustration with CP. This is a reality check. It’s now up to CP to listen and show they respect workers by changing their confrontational relationship with their employees, our members.”  

 “CP is disappointed with the outcome of the vote given that both final offers provided for significant improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions that are consistent with agreements recently reached with other CP unions in both the United States and Canada,” the railroad said in its prepared statement.

In a web page directed at union members, CP said of its offer that it “offers improve(d) member wages, benefits, and essentially ask for nothing in return beyond certainty and stability for the next three years."

A strike would hit transport markets at a time when alternative truck capacity is tight and there are increasing reports of movement off of trucks and into the intermodal sector. Canadian Pacific has extensive trackage in the northeast and upper Midwest U.S. as well as Canada.