Teamsters Say Tentative Deal With CN Reached, Work Set to Resume

November 26, 2019 Updated: November 27, 2019

MONTREAL—Teamsters Canada says it has reached a tentative agreement with Canadian National Railway Co. to renew the collective agreement for over 3,000 conductors, trainpersons, and yard workers.

The union said normal operations at CN will resume on Nov. 27 at 6 a.m. local time across Canada.

Details of the agreement, which must be ratified by union members, were not immediately available.

The workers began their strike, which brought freight trains to a halt across the country, last week.

The federal government had faced mounting pressure to resolve the strike—either through swift mediation, binding arbitration, or back−to−work legislation—as premiers and industry voiced concerns about lost profits and a critical propane shortage in Quebec.

However the government said it believed that the quickest way to resolve the dispute would be a negotiated settlement reached at the bargaining table.

The union thanked the prime minister for respecting the workers’ right to strike and acknowledged the help of Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and the federal mediation and conciliation service in reaching the deal.

“Previous governments routinely violated workers’ right to strike when it came to the rail industry. This government remained calm and focused on helping parties reach an agreement, and it worked,” Teamsters Canada president Francois Laporte said.

CN chief executive JJ Ruest thanked the railway’s customers for their patience and support and said it was preparing to resume full rail operations as soon as possible.

“I would also like to personally thank our employees who kept the railroad moving safely at a reduced capacity,” Ruest said in a statement. 

The deal came a day after Nutrien Ltd. announced that it would temporarily shut down and lay off 550 employees at its largest potash mine in southeastern Saskatchewan for two weeks starting Dec. 2 due to the strike.

Hundreds of Quebec farmers also marched through Montreal streets on Nov. 25 alongside a convoy of tractors to dump heaps of corn at the steps of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s riding office, calling on Ottawa to resolve the week−long labour stoppage.

The railway workers had raised worries about long hours, fatigue, and what they considered dangerous working conditions.

CN rejected the union’s claim that the strike concerns workplace health and safety, suggesting instead that it revolves around worker compensation.

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