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Last-minute tentative deal averts lockout at CN

Deal now goes to Unifor-led railway staff for ratification vote

From left, CN chief operating officer Jim Vena, federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch and Unifor president Jerry Dias, after CN and Unifor reached a tentative labour agreement late Monday. (CNW Group/Employment and Social Development Canada)

Canadian National Railway (CN) has pulled its lockout notice after reaching a tentative labour deal with its unionized mechanical and clerical staff.

The company, which last week set a lockout deadline of 11 p.m. ET Monday for employees represented by Unifor, announced the agreement late Monday night.

“We are very pleased that the company and union were able to find common ground on a tentative new labour contract,” CN CEO Claude Mongeau said in a release.

“This settlement forecloses the prospect of a potential labour disruption that would have harmed CN’s employees, its customers and the Canadian economy.”

Unifor represents 4,800 CN staff across four bargaining units: mechanical, clerical/intermodal, excavator operators, and truck owner-operators with the company’s trucking arm, CNTL.

The union also represents locomotive engineers with Savage Alberta Rail, a CN-owned shortline in Alberta’s Peace region.

Unifor president Jerry Dias said late Monday the tentative agreement received the “unanimous endorsement of all of the Unifor bargaining committees.”

CN said it wouldn’t release details of the tentative labour agreement pending the outcome of a ratification vote by Unifor members.

The union, CN said, is expected to announce the results of the ratification vote in the next three weeks.


Dias, in his statement, didn’t release any details other than to say the union and company “were able to find solutions to the concerns raised by our members — this is best achieved at the bargaining table.”

Federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, in a separate release late Monday, said the tentative agreement “will benefit not only the parties involved but all Canadians.”

Leitch said she was “pleased” that CN and Unifor sought help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to work out an agreement, but added “it was through the determination and dedication of the parties themselves that they resolved their differences and found solutions.”

Federal back-to-work legislation for the resumption of rail service was on order papers for both Monday and Tuesday for possible introduction in the House of Commons.

Similar legislation was on last Monday’s order paper before Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and its unionized engineers and conductors agreed to binding arbitration following a one-day strike. — Network

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