Canada’s second largest rail employer saw 3,000 unionized laborers returned to work this week after a multi-day work stoppage over stalled contract negotiations.
Workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and their employer, Canadian Pacific Railway, had been negotiating since September when the union announced it would go on strike if an acceptable contract was not presented by the end of last week.
The company shut down operations on Sunday just after midnight. A few hours later, Teamsters issued a statement saying the employees were locked out but were also on strike.
CP Rail ships half of Western Canada’s grain product on their routes, as well as handling a large proportion of the 75% of agricultural fertilizers that are shipped across the country by rail.
The union announced Tuesday that both sides have agreed to final and binding arbitration to end the work stoppage. Negotiations had been ongoing with the help of federal mediators during the stoppage to reach a rapid agreement.
In a statement early Tuesday morning, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference spokesperson Dave Fulton said while binding arbitration was not the preferred method, the union was able to negotiate terms and conditions that were in the best interest of its members, with wages and pensions still presenting stumbling blocks.
Employees returned to the job soon after the announcement, but arbitrations of this size could take weeks before matters are settled for the 3,000 conductors, engineers, train, and yard workers.
Reporting Courtesy of Sean Hagerup for Labor Radio
Image Courtesy of Diana Robinson on Flickr