The deadline for the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to vote on Canadian Pacific’s final offer has been extended to Friday, May 25.
The postponing comes after a printer error was made on the original voter instruction letter issued by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board.
Greg Edwards, TCRC General Chairman for Locomotive Engineers (West) says the TCRC hopes to negotiate with CP following Friday’s vote rather than moving to strike.
“Our hope is that if we have a ‘no’ vote on Friday, that CP sits down and we bargain. We want a bargained agreement,” says Edwards. “We don’t want to go on strike. But if we have to, we will.”
Initial strike notice was filed by the TCRC and IBEW on April 17, giving the required 72-hour notice before the strike would have begun on April 21. Members of TCRC voted 94.2 per cent and members of IBEW voted 98.3 per cent to authorize strike action.
On April 20, CP announced in a news release that the Minister of Labour would direct the Canadian Industrial Relation Board to administer a ratification vote on CP’s final offer. The move to vote avoided the potential work stoppage on April 21.
Before the initial ratification vote opened on May 14, both the TCRC and IBEW urged their members to reject the offers.
“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 in a news release issued April 20. “I would like to reassure our members that we have given nothing up.”
Edwards says the offer put forward by CP fails to resolve a a number of concerns held by the unions, including pension concerns, sick pay, dental policies and fatigue management.
Ensuring rest for employees, Edwards says, has been a major concern of the union that continues to be unresolved by CP’s offer.
“Our guys are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With that structure behind it, our guys don’t get sleep on a regular basis and we need to make sure that they at least get regular time off to reset their clock so they can get rested up,” says Edwards. “The government is telling us they want us to resolve it, our members are telling us they want it resolved, CP says they want to resolve it, but we haven’t been able to come to any terms on it yet.”
Edwards says the TCRC is prepared to negotiate on Friday afternoon following the vote. 72-hours notice of strike action would be required by the TCRC and IBEW if no agreement is reached.