CN says it offered formal invite into binding arbitration

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Canadian National (CN) says it has formally offered the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) to enter into binding arbitration, an invite they say the union has turned down.

This process has a mutually agreed upon independent arbitrator settle the labour dispute by evaluating the demands of each side and deciding on the terms of the new collective agreement.

CN says the TCRC has rejected all offers and has now rejected a voluntary arbitration process.

CN says it initially attempted to modernize the collective agreement to improve work-life balance for employees and productivity through scheduling and hourly wages. Currently, engineers and conductors do not work on a schedule and are paid on a legacy miles-based system.

As the union refused to negotiate substantively on this matter, CN says it made a simplified offer to the union in May that continued to be aligned with government guidelines on work and rest and achieved some productivity gains. The union rejected this offer as well.

CN says all offers align with the latest government regulations and duty and rest period rules (DRPR). Implemented in May 2023, DRPR specifically defines the requirements related to hours of work and rest periods for employees who are in positions designated critical to safe railway operations.

Teamsters Canada says CN and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) rejected a proposal from the TCRC to stagger negotiations with both companies by two weeks. They said the move would avoid simultaneous work stoppages at CN and CPKC, reducing the economic impacts from any disruptions to the supply chain from a strike or lockout.

“Staggering the negotiations is a sensible solution that would minimize disruptions and allow all parties to address their concerns in a more structured and productive manner,” said Paul Boucher, president, TCRC. “CN and CPKC’s rejection of this proposal is a clear indication of how little they care about the economy and the supply chain, as well as their unwillingness to negotiate.

“A work stoppage has never ever been our end goal. Our members at both carriers simply want a fair and equitable collective agreement – one that does not compromise their quality of life or their safety.”

Update on CIRB process

Last week, CN and other parties took part in a case management conference organized by the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to discuss the minister of labour’s request for clarity on the continuation of activities during a work stoppage.

As part of this review process, the parties had until May 31 to submit their replies to the CIRB. The CIRB has now extended this deadline to June 14 and has asked that specific themes identified in the submissions filed by stakeholders be addressed in the replies.

As of right now, the CIRB has not indicated how long they will take to make a decision, and neither a strike nor a lockout can happen until then. A strike or lockout is unlikely to happen before mid- to late-July. However, the CIRB’s request for clarity does not impact CN and the TCRC’s ability to continue bargaining.