Workers remain on defensive, with both companies demanding concessions on fatigue protections

Laval, QC, June 29, 2024 – The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) today announced that close to 10,000 workers at CN and CPKC have voted to reauthorize strikes at both companies, if negotiated settlements cannot be reached.

Overall, workers voted 98.6% to reauthorize a strike, with an 89.5% turnout.

At CN, conductors, locomotive engineers, and yard workers have voted 98.4% to reauthorize a strike, with a 90.1% turnout.

At CPKC, conductors, locomotive engineers, and yard workers have voted 99.2% to reauthorize a strike, with an 88.6% turnout.

Rail traffic controllers at CPKC have voted 95.7% to reauthorize a strike, with an 88.5% turnout. 

“CN and CPKC are trying to force changes to our collective agreements that would move the clock back on working conditions and rail safety. The Teamsters are trying to stop them. With this renewed strike mandate, we intend to go back to the bargaining table, work with federal mediators, and do everything in our power to reach a fair deal for our members and protect all Canadians,” said Paul Boucher, President, TCRC.

For federally regulated industries, strike authorization votes are only good for 60 days. Workers at CN and CPKC had previously voted to authorize strike action on May 1, and workers would have been in a legal strike position on May 22.

However, on May 19, the government temporarily suspended workers’ right to strike to allow the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to determine whether any shipments must continue in the event of a work stoppage. Because of the delay at the CIRB, the union had to take the unusual step of asking members to reauthorize strike action.

Background on bargaining

Workers are on the defensive in these negotiations, with both companies demanding a wide range of concessions on issues pertaining to crew scheduling, hours of work, and fatigue management. The stumbling blocks are company demands – not union proposals. 

Hit by labour shortages, both CN and CPKC are trying to squeeze more availability out of train crews. 

CPKC aims to gut the collective agreement of all safety-critical fatigue provisions. The end result will mean train crews would be forced to stay awake even longer, increasing the risk of derailments and other accidents. CPKC has also failed to address the understaffing of rail traffic controllers. 

Meanwhile, CN is targeting fewer articles around fatigue, but their offer is contingent on the acceptance of a forced relocation scheme. Their proposal would see workers ordered to move across the country for months at a time to fill labour shortages in remote areas of Canada. CN’s offer is also contingent on the union agreeing to extend workdays in all provinces west of Ontario.

Compromising on safety, or threatening to tear families apart for months, are not solutions to staffing problems. CN and CPKC should instead be looking to improve working conditions and adopt a more humane approach to railroading.  

At over 125,000 members, Teamsters Canada is the country’s largest transportation and supply chain union. It’s also the largest union in the federally regulated private sector. They are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over 1.2 million workers in North America.


Media requests:

Christopher Monette
Director of Public Affairs
Teamsters Canada
Cell : 514-226-6002
[email protected]