Montreal West Island School Bus Workers on Strike

Laval, QC, April 23, 2018 – Barring a surprise agreement, workers at school bus company Autobus Lucien Bissonnette will go on strike at 6 a.m. this morning. Last-ditch bargaining sessions and management offers to the 50 employees at the company were not enough to break the deadlock at the negotiations table.

Seventy eight percent of members of Teamsters Local Union 106 at Autobus Lucien Bissonnette who attended the latest union meeting voted against their employer’s offers.

Wages are once again the main sticking point. Workers in the school bus industry earn between $20,000 and $ 25,000 annually. A new collective agreement should at least allow wages to catch up to increases to the consumer price index. These low working conditions are also worsening the manpower shortage in the industry.

The commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs in Vaudreil-Dorion and the Lester B. Pearson School Board in Dorval will be affected by the labour dispute. Some 4000 students will be left without school bus service.

Teamster members gave negotiations ample opportunity to succeed and had even delayed going on strike by an extra two weeks. Because negotiations remained at a standstill, they were left with no other option but to launch a general unlimited strike.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 1000 school bus drivers in Québec. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Information:

Stéphane Lacroix
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Teamsters Québec
Cell: 514-609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Calgary, April 20, 2018 – The Minister of Labour, on the advice of federal mediators, has agreed to Canadian Pacific’s request to order a vote on a final offer to renew their collective agreements with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and the IBEW System Council No. 11. Both unions strongly recommend that their members reject the company offers.

Because of this new development, the Teamsters and the IBEW will postpone a strike until their members have had chance to vote on the agreement. Once CP’s offer is rejected, both unions will be free to exercise their rights to strike.

“CP succeeded in delaying the inevitable. The government will bring this ridiculous offer to our members and we strongly recommend that members vote against it,” said the president of the TCRC, Doug Finnson. “I would like to reassure our members that we have given nothing up.”

“CP can’t hide from us forever,” continued the union leader. “Once our members reject their final offer, CP will have exhausted all possible escape routes and they will face their workers once again.”

The unions will not release specific details of the company offer until workers have had a chance to view them first. The offer does not satisfy workers’ concerns on fatigue and wages.

Cuts, punitive discipline and an adversarial labour relations strategy led to over 8000 grievances being filed against CP by Teamster members. Only 3000 workers are covered by their collective agreement.

Members of the IBEW have been in a similarly unprecedented situation for the past three years, with close to 300 grievances being filed. Only 360 workers are covered by their collective agreement.

“The fact that CP thinks their offer has a chance in hell of being ratified shows how out of touch they are with their employees,” said Steve Martin, Senior General Chairman from IBEW System Council No. 11. “The company is in for a wakeup call.”

The electronic vote on the company offers will be conducted by the Canada Industrial Relations Boards. It is not yet known when the vote will take place.

Some 3000 conductors and locomotive engineers, members of the TCRC, voted 94.2% to authorize strike action on April 6, 2018.

Some 360 signals and communications employees, members of the IBEW, voted 98.3% to authorize strike action on April 12, 2018.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents close to 70,000 workers in Canada.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette, Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002 | cmonette@teamsters.ca

Steve Martin, Senior General Chairman, IBEW System Council No. 11.
Cell: 519-240-3328 | ibewmartin@bell.net

Calgary, April 19, 2018 – The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) is confused at the sight of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) publicly playing the “victim card” in current contract negotiations. The TCRC is reacting to the company’s claim that unions are attempting to take the company hostage.

“If CP is a victim, then they’re a victim of their own aggressive behaviour and they must finally be feeling the consequences of their actions,” said TCRC President Doug Finnson during a rare break from bargaining with the company.

Over the last few years, Teamster members at CP won hundreds of arbitration cases, thousands of contract violations grievances, multiple unfair labour practice complaints, and filed several cease and desist orders in the Courts. In each case, CP management vigorously fought their own workers and lost.

At the Canadian Railway Office of Arbitration, cases of dismissed CP workers have risen 500% since the company imported a new system of labour relations. Last year saw the most cases on record for arbitrating dismissals of CP workers, and records go back 100 years.

Arbitrators, the courts, and labour boards have all found that CP violated their contracts and, in many cases, broke the law.

There are currently more than 8000 grievances filed against the company by locomotive engineers and conductors. Recall that only 3000 workers are covered by the collective agreement!

“The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that collective bargaining is a fundamental right. Whether or not CP likes it, we will continue to exercise our rights,” said Doug Finnson.

“The fact that CP feels they are being taken hostage by working-class Canadians is a reflection of their failed labour relations strategy,” concluded the union leader. “Rather than engaging in a public debate about CP’s failures, the Teamsters remain focused on collective bargaining and obtaining a fair contract for workers.”

In the event that parties are unable to reach a negotiated settlement, over 3000 conductors and locomotive engineers will exercise their legal right to strike on Saturday, April 21 at 0:01 a.m. ET.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

UPDATE: Commuter train services in Montreal (RTM), Toronto (Go & UP) and Vancouver (WCE) are operated by Bombardier Transportation, not Canadian Pacific. Teamster members who operate trains in those locations are Bombardier employees and would not go on strike.

Calgary, April 17, 2018 – Given lack of progress at the bargaining table, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference formally served 72 hours’ notice of intent to strike to Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).

The union hopes to reach a negotiated settlement that its members can ratify, and to move forward without a service disruption. Talks with the company will resume in the morning of Wednesday, April 18.

In the event that parties are unable to reach a negotiated settlement, over 3000 conductors and locomotive engineers will exercise their legal right to strike on Saturday, April 21 at 0:01 a.m. ET.

Bullying and exhaustion

Systematically bullying workers, while pushing them to work well beyond their point of exhaustion, is part of the reason why workers at CP have been forced to risk strike action for the third time in six years. Background on the current negotiations can be found here:

Teamsters at CP Vote to Authorize Strike Action

Teamsters Reveal CP’s True Intentions

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

Laval, QC, April 14, 2018 – In a press release replete with fabrication and innuendo, Canadian Pacific (CP) last night claimed it was trying to negotiate in good faith with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). The reality is that the company is attempting to manufacture a crisis to force government intervention and avoid bargaining with the Teamsters.

“If CP truly wants to avoid a strike, all they need to do is show up on time at the bargaining table, be prepared to negotiate with the Teamsters, and stop lobbying the government to save them from themselves,” explained the president of the TCRC, Doug Finnson.

CP admitted to the TCRC that they prefer a government-appointed arbitrator over negotiating with the Teamsters. Arbitration leads to better outcomes for the company. Bargaining in a way that leaves the union no choice but to take strike action is one way to force an arbitrated settlement, at the expense of their customers and the economy.

This is the third time in six years that the Teamsters have had to risk strike action to obtain a fair and reasonable contract renewal. On April 6, workers at CP voted 94.2% to authorize strike action. Some 3000 conductors and locomotive engineers could go on strike as early as 0001 on April 21.

Canadian Pacific rife with labour and safety problems

If the company claims that mending labour relations is their top priority, little has changed in the daily lives of their employees. Systematically bullying workers, while pushing them to work well beyond their point of exhaustion, resulted in a cease and desist order being filed against CP by the TCRC.

“CP’s adversarial labour relations strategy has failed miserably. There is overwhelming evidence that this discipline based style of labour relations cannot function in Canada and has driven the parties apart,” said Finnson.

At the Canadian Railway Office of Arbitration, cases of dismissed CP workers have risen 500% since the company imported a new system of labour relations. Last year saw the most cases on record for arbitrating dismissals of CP workers, and the union’s records go back 100 years.

“The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that collective bargaining is a fundamental right. The company must stop hoping for binding arbitration and start negotiating fairly,” the union leader said.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:
Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002 | cmonette@teamsters.ca

Labour rights, infrastructure investment must be handled in revised trade pact…

Laval, QC, April 9, 2018 – The Teamsters’ rail conferences in the U.S. and Canada today joined with unionized Mexican freight rail workers in calling for the inclusion of language in a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that would ensure that all industry workers on the continent are treated fairly and equitably.

In a trilateral letter sent to top U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials, the Teamsters Rail Conference USA (TRC), Teamsters Canada Railway Conference (TCRC) and Mexican Railwaymen’s Union (STFRM) said the unions are standing in solidarity in support of a new NAFTA that looks out for workers’ interests across sectors, as well as for much-needed infrastructure investment.

“We urge you to commit, whether in the text of NAFTA 2.0 or in a simultaneous tri-national side agreement, to invest a minimum of 2% of gross domestic product annually on transportation infrastructure construction, repair and maintenance,” the letter stated. “Especially along our two borders, the bridges and interchanges should be upgraded as part of NAFTA modernization.”

The unions also asked trade authorities to “enshrine the principle of exclusivity” into the cross-border services chapter that would make clear that freight rail crew changes should happen at interchanges near border crossings. “Our members have no interest, at the expense of their brothers and sisters in companion unions, to drive their trains deep into the territory of another party,” they wrote.

The entire letter can be read here, on teamsters.ca

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

Laval, QC, April 6, 2018 – Members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) at Canadian Pacific (CP) have voted by a margin of 94.2% to authorize strike action. Some 3000 conductors and locomotive engineers could go on strike as early as 0:01 am on April 21, 2018.

CP is demanding cuts and concessions despite posting billions of dollars in profits. The company also rejected almost all the union’s solutions to problems ranging from workplace safety and crew fatigue to the company’s abusive disciplinary policy.

“Despite our best efforts to negotiate in good faith, we have come to a point where Teamsters are prepared to go on strike for the third time in six years to obtain a fair and reasonable contract renewal,” explained Doug Finnson, President, TCRC. “We will do everything in our power to reach a negotiated settlement at CP, but one that is acceptable to our members and that addresses the major issues that exist with this employer.”

CP’s profit in 2017 reached $2.4-billion, up by $1-billion since 2014, even as sales were little changed over the same period. Rising profits despite stagnant sales can be attributed to cuts, layoffs, closures, and punitive discipline. CP also forces train crews to be available 24/7 while pushing them to work well beyond their point of exhaustion.

This has led to a backlog of many thousands of grievances at the company, and to Transport Canada labelling crew fatigue at CP as an “immediate threat” to rail safety.

CP acknowledged in 2017 that their actions created a rift with their workers.

The previous collective agreement with CP expired on December 31, 2017. Negotiations began on November 16, 2017, and federal mediators were brought in on January 29, 2018.

A ratification vote is underway at CP rival Canadian National, guaranteeing labour peace for the foreseeable future.

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries, including over 10,000 in the rail sector. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca

Laval, March 29, 2018 – Québec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao’s latest provincial budget is raising concerns among members of the Teamsters Union, particularly with regard to a measure to curb the labour shortage in the trucking industry.

While the Québec government recognizes that the freight industry is facing a manpower shortage, they are missing the boat by announcing funding to polish the industry’s image.

A PR campaign will not attract new workers because poor working conditions are the root cause of this labour shortage. When a non-union trucker struggles to earn a decent wage while working 50, 60 or even 70 hours a week, it’s no wonder many truckers quit and job seekers do not rush to fill vacancies.

Moreover, many non-unionized truckers do not have a health and welfare benefits or a pension. In some cases, they cannot afford to take sick leave.

In short, the government’s initiative will see spin doctors trying to sell a career in an industry that doesn’t treat workers right.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the shortage in this industry would deprive companies of tens of thousands of truckers across Canada by 2020. There are 80,000 truckers in Québec alone.

“We need to improve working conditions before promoting the trucking industry’s image. Otherwise, we might as well be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It might look good, but it won’t help at the end of the day.”

“Instead, the government needs to launch a broad consultation on the issues that plague the trucking industry. Transport companies, contractors, the government and the Teamsters Union need to look each other in the eyes and find lasting solutions to this urgent problem,”

– Jean Chartrand, President of Teamsters Local Union 106

Teamsters represent the interests of close to 125,000 workers in Canada, including over 5,500 truckers in Québec. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Information:
Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Portable: 514 609-5101
slacroix@teamsters.ca

Our story takes place on a rainy December night in Vancouver. Eli El-Skaf, a member of Teamsters Local Union 155, was driving his shuttle bus on the Burrard St Bridge. He had just come from the set of the TV series where he worked. A pair of Teamsters from the same production, Bob Pearson and Volodymyr Kokun, were in a work truck not far behind him.

As an Audi A8 peeled off loudly and started speeding past Eli, the three Teamsters were completely unaware that they were about to become heroes.

A Fiery Accident

The Audi lost control, crossed the centre line and collided head-on with an oncoming taxi before slamming into the side of the bridge. The crash destroyed the front half of the yellow cab. The A8 was scattered into pieces across the bridge.

Eli watched the scene unfold in front of him. While most people have only seen accidents like this in movies, Eli was a Lebanese army veteran who had witnessed worse.

Ignoring the risks and wasting no time, Eli got out of his bus and ran to the Audi as it burst into flames. The car and its driver were engulfed in the blaze; there was nothing Eli could do.

He quickly turned to the smouldering taxi. Eli assessed the situation. The fire in the taxi was creeping onto the dash next to the unconscious driver’s forehead. Eli could not remove the driver’s seatbelt but managed to drag the passenger, also unconscious, out from the taxi.

At that point, his fellow Teamsters had arrived in their work truck. Eli summoned Bob and Volodymyr to help drag the passenger away from the fiery accident scene.

Eli turned his attention to the taxi driver. He held the driver’s head away from the dash to keep it clear from the smoke. He yelled for a knife, cut the seatbelt and dragged the large man from the vehicle. He again summoned for help and his fellow Teamsters dragged the driver to safety, away from the smoldering taxi and the burning Audi A8.

The victims were taken to hospital and survived.

Knights of the Highway

As the rain turned to snow later that day, and police began piecing together what had happened, it became clear that the three Teamsters were heroes. First responders praised their actions.

Stories like these are rare. Most individuals would not run toward a burning car which could explode at any moment. The smells and heat are usually powerful enough to keep most people at a distance – never mind the risk of injury or death.

Sixty years ago, it was not uncommon to describe Teamster members as knights of the highway. Brothers El-Skaf, Pearson, and Kokun are three of those knights.

Teamsters Canada salutes their bravery and decisiveness.

Laval, QC, March 23, 2018 – François Laporte, the President of Teamsters Canada, wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau today about trade negotiations between Canada and the Mercosur bloc of nations. The union is concerned that the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could be used as a model for talks with Mercosur. The first round of Canada-Mercosur negotiations ends today in Ottawa.

The CPTPP is a trade agreement which was negotiated mostly by the previous Conservative government and signed by the Trudeau Liberals. Mercosur is a customs union which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

“Signing the CPTPP, and beginning Mercosur talks without consulting our union, shattered our confidence in the government’s commitment to a ‘progressive’ trade agenda,” wrote Laporte.

“While we are not opposed to trade, we recognize that there is such a thing as a bad trade agreement. The CPTPP is one such example. […] On labour issues, your CPTPP is in fact weaker than what Stephen Harper had negotiated in the TPP.”

“Canada undermined its position on labour rights at the NAFTA negotiations table by agreeing to the CPTPP. We cannot demand a strong labour chapter in negotiations with the United States and Mexico, and at the same time agree to a weak labour chapter in the CPTPP.”

“Mercosur and all future trade agreements will need to include something the CPTPP does not have: a strong and enforceable labour chapter, which recognizes that wages and working conditions always affect trade. Violating the labour chapter would need to carry consequences that are at least as strong as those that protect commercial interests.”

“Moreover, no further trade agreement should be signed without first studying the impact on jobs. The federal government made no attempt to analyze potential job losses stemming from the CPTPP. With Mercosur, we urge you conduct appropriate economic modelling. It is wrong to assume trade agreements will not harm the livelihoods of at least some Canadians.”

“The decision to sign the CPTPP, without consultation and without a mandate from the population, was an unacceptable mistake. Regularly consulting civil society and labour unions on Mercosur will go a long way to help rebuild lost trust.”

Teamsters represent close to 125,000 members in Canada is all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

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Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs
Teamsters Canada
Cell: 514-226-6002
cmonette@teamsters.ca