CN Strike Looming Large
CBJ – Unifor and its president Jerry Dias just recently completed a new agreement with CP Rail, but it appears a similar deal with the nation’s largest rail company won’t be coming without a formidable battle.
Dias says the union has begun a strike vote as bargaining continues with Montreal-based CN Rail, but as of now all signs are pointing towards a strike for mechanics and office workers.
CN has responded by saying the union rejected a fair offer that is in line with agreements reached with other employees at the company. The company also addressed the matter of Unifor’s philanthropic fund.
“This is an issue of principle for us,” Claude Mongeau, CN’s CEO, said in a statement. “CN is prepared to co-invest in charitable causes, but we are not prepared to support such a union agenda.”
The union agenda Mongeau refers to is a fund created by the union, which recently contributed $230,000 to food banks and women’s shelters. CP supported the fund as part of their recent negotiations with Unifor and now the union wants CN to follow suit. Dias says CN was requested to contribute 5 cents for every hour worked by Unifor members.
“The issue is about $5 an hour in pay increases over four years, it’s not about a nickel,” Dias said in a telephone interview with The Globe & Mail. “CP made $1.5-billion last year in profit. CN made $3.2-billion last year. So if CP can pay the wages then so can CN.”
Reports say CN is now threatening to alter the terms of the collective agreement by imposing a 2% wage increase, which is 1% less than what was originally on the table.