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CN conductors, yardpeople vote to reject deal

Conductors, trainpersons, yardpersons and traffic co-ordinators on Canadian National Railway (CN) lines in Canada have voted to reject a proposed collective agreement that averted a work stoppage last fall.

Montreal-based CN and the affected workers, represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), had reached a tentative three-year agreement in late October.

The deal last fall came after a week of talks with government-appointed mediators. The union and railway had been in position to announce a strike and lockout, respectively, after giving 72 hours’ notice. [Related story]

CN announced Friday that the tentative deals, covering about 3,000 unionized staff in Canada, “have failed to ratify.”

“We are disappointed to learn that those agreements failed to ratify,” CN chief operating officer Jim Vena said in a release.

The company, he said, has agreed to meet with union brass next week “to review the ratification results and discuss solutions on how we move forward from here.”

The union, which hasn’t yet officially commented on the results of the ratification vote, had warned in September that the situation between the union and company could end up being a rerun of their “last-chance” talks in 2010, when a strike was “narrowly avoided.”

“CN is once again trying to get us to make concessions that would see our members work longer hours, be onboard the trains, have less rest time between each trip and perform more work when alone,” TCRC negotiator Roland Hackl said at the time.

The TCRC-represented conductors and other workers’ last contract expired in July 2013.

CN last saw work stoppage in 2009, when the company’s TCRC-represented engineers went on strike for five days before agreeing to arbitration.

TCRC-represented engineers and conductors at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) went on strike in 2012 for 10 days before the federal government legislated them back to work. — Network

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