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Potential Rail Strike Impacting Shipments in Canada

Updated: 6 days ago

There has been an ongoing negotiations between Canada Pacific Kanas City (CPKC) and Canadian National (CN) railways with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). This could lead to the possibility of a strike or lockout, which could significantly impact rail services.

For the latest bargaining updates click here: https://www.cpkcr.com/en/media/TCRC-bargaining-updates


Updates as of May 24, 2024

Letter to Ministers of Labour and Transport re Potential CN, CPKC Labour Disruptions – More Than 100 Signatories, Including CIFFA


Forty-five Canadian associations and 60 chambers of commerce and boards of trade have signed a letter to Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. and Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriguez to express "alarm over the potential for a labour disruption that would affect Class I railways."

 

The letter noted:

  • According to the Railway Association of Canada, our two freight railways transported a total of more than $380 billion worth of goods in 2022, and approximately half of the country’s exports. A strike interrupting service on both railways’ Canadian networks is estimated to impact the flow of more than $1 billion of goods every single day.

  • This is not the time to put further strain on a system that is under pressure and once again jeopardize Canada’s reputation as a stable place to do business; we need to ensure our supply chains are reliable and resilient.

  • A breakdown in operations would have severe impacts that span almost all industries across the country. We simply don’t have the capacity in other modes of transportation to replace the movement of goods by rail.


Updates as of May 23, 2024

CPKC-TCRC Bargaining Update


CPKC and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) leadership met again between May 15 and 21, with the assistance of federal mediators in an effort to achieve renewed collective agreements for Train and Engine (T&E) and Rail Traffic Controller (RCTC) employees. Regrettably, no progress was made. Additional bargaining dates have not been scheduled at this time.

 

Although May 21 marked the expiration of the mandatory 21-day “cooling off” period under the Canada Labour Code, the Federal Minister of Labour’s referral to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) regarding the maintenance of activities means that a legal strike or lockout cannot occur until the CIRB renders a decision. While it remains unclear how long it will take for the CIRB to issue a decision, based on precedent, it is unlikely the parties will be in a position to initiate a legal strike or lockout before mid-July or later.

 

Submissions from stakeholders were due on May 21. The CIRB has received a significant number of submissions that it will need to review and consider. A case management conference is now scheduled for early next week. The CIRB has given CPKC and the TCRC until May 31 to file replies.


Updates as of May 16, 2024

Update on CPKC-TCRC Collective Bargaining Negotiations


CPKC and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) leadership will resume meeting on May 17, with the assistance of federal mediators in an effort to achieve new collective agreements for train and engine (T&E) and rail traffic controller (RCTC) employees.

 

On Wednesday, CPKC voluntarily offered to enter binding arbitration to avoid a work stoppage, however, the TCRC declined.  


Updates as of May 16, 2024

Negotiations between CN and the TCRC are continuing this week with the support of federal conciliators


CN presented a revised offer to the TCRC that continues to focus on protecting the North American economy and its supply chains, while maintaining the safety of its employees. Visit www.cn.ca/TCRCinfo to learn more.


CN has been and remains working hard to reach a mutually beneficial negotiated agreement with the TCRC that avoids a work stoppage. As previously communicated, the Minister of Labour requested clarity from the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) on whether or not any service is essential, and therefore must be maintained during a labour disruption. Specifically, CN has been requested to provide details regarding the movement of heavy fuel oil, propane, and food and water treatment materials needed in remote communities and throughout Canada.  As a result of that request, there can be no strike or lockout before the CIRB issues a decision. It is highly unlikely that such determination could be made before May 22.


Updates as of May 15, 2024

Alberta Urges Feds to Head Off Port, Rail Strikes


Alberta has urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do all he can to head off potentially devastating strikes by railway and port workers.

 

“Any work stoppage affecting our railways and ports would be crippling for our national economy and North American supply chains,” Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said in a letter to Trudeau that was released by her office.

 

Smith said Ottawa had to do all it could to help the parties in both disputes reach negotiated settlements.

 

“In the event of a work stoppage, your government must be prepared to use all the tools at its disposal to terminate it rapidly, including, if necessary, back-to-work legislation,” said Smith, one of Trudeau’s main domestic political opponents.


Updates as of May 14, 2024

CIRB has set May 31st as a deadline for initial submissions and rebuttals


On May 1, 2024, unionized rail workers in Canada represented by Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) voted to authorize a strike as soon as May 22, 2024, unless a deal was reached before then.


The Canadian federal government has asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to assess the potential impact of the strike on public health and safety. Until this assessment is completed by CIRB, a strike cannot be initiated. 


The CIRB has set a May 31, 2024 deadline for the initial submissions and rebuttals from all parties. It remains unclear if, when, or how long the strike will take place. 


Updates as of May 13, 2024

CPKC–TCRC Collective Bargaining Update

 

The Minister of Labour has referred a question to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to determine if, contrary to the agreement the minister states was reached by CPKC and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), any rail activity must continue during a strike or lockout to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

 

This referral means a legal strike or lockout cannot occur until the CIRB renders its decision. The timing for the CIRB decision is unknown.

 

Pursuant to the Canada Labour Code, the parties are currently in a mandatory 21-day cooling off period, which would otherwise expire at 23:59 ET on May 21. CPKC and the TCRC leadership are scheduled to meet again this week to continue negotiations with the assistance of federal mediators.


Updates as of May 11, 2024:

"No strike or lockout will happen on May 22, 2024"


The Ministry of Labour has now involved the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to determine if, contrary to the agreement reached by the railway and the unions, any rail activity must continue during a strike or lockout to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This involvement means a legal strike or lockout cannot occur until the CIRB renders its decision, which is unknown at this time. Therefore, no strike or lockout will happen on May 22, 2024 and it will be business as usual. 

 

Updates as of May 8, 2024:

Minister of Labour Wants Deal "Done at the Table" to Avoid CN, CPKC Strikes

 

Canada's Minister of Labour, Seamus O'Regan, wants the unions and the railways to reach a deal through negotiation without resorting to a strike or lockout.

 

He said on May 3: "I am serious when I say that the best deals are made at the table. They have to be made at the table. They have to be made between those unions and those employers." However, he stressed, the parties need to get serious now. "Get a deal. "He added: "I am not one of these ones who considers drama part of the process... If you see the deal, get the deal. If you've got to work to get to the deal, then work to get to the deal... The less drama, the better. Get the deal done at the table."

Updates as of May 7, 2024:

Possible Strike Action at CN & CPKC Rail, Montreal Port, and Vancouver Port


As of May 5, negotiations to renew the collective agreements between CN (Canadian National Railway), CPKC (Canadian Pacific Kansas City Limited), and TCRC (Teamsters Canada Rail Conference) continue. Despite efforts to reach a resolution, the possibility of a strike looms as TCRC members have voted in favor of such action should an agreement not be reached. If the parties do not reach new collective agreements during the mediation period, a legal work stoppage could occur as early as Wednesday, May 22.


Maritime Employers Association (MEA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 375), longshore workers at the Port of Montreal have been without a labor deal since their collective agreement expired on December 31, 2023. Therefore, union could issue a 72-hour strike notice at any point.


On the West Coast, negotiations between the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship & Dock Foremen Local 514 (ILWU Local 514) have been ongoing. As it stands, the earliest either BCMEA or ILWU Local 514 may exercise either a lockout or right to strike is on May 10, 2024. The Parties are scheduled to continue mediated negotiations on May 8, 9 & 10 with the assistance of federal mediators.


Updates as of May 2, 2024:

CPKC Update: Negotiations with TCRC

 

With the assistance of federal conciliators, CPKC and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) leadership are meeting again this week to continue negotiations to renew the collective agreements for both Train and Engine (T&E) and Rail Traffic Controller (RCTC) employees. The parties remain far apart.

 

A work stoppage will impact all Canadians. It will halt freight traffic on CPKC’s Canadian rail network. It will disrupt essential supply chains throughout North America, and significantly constrain trade between Canada and the U.S. and Mexico. Commuter services hosted on CPKC’s network in Montreal (Exo), Toronto (Metrolinx) and Vancouver (West Coast Express) will be unable to operate.

 

The TCRC leadership and CPKC are meeting this week and scheduled to meet again during the week of May 13.


Updates as of May 1, 2024:

As part of our commitment to proactive communication, we aim to keep you informed and prepared for any potential disruptions. The earliest date for a strike that has been mentioned is May 22nd, 2024.


In the event of a work stoppage, all rail lines across Canada will cease operations, resulting in a halt of all shipments via the railways. To mitigate potential delays and ensure the continuity of your supply chain, we advise taking proactive measures.


We recommend sending any freight shipments destined for Western or Eastern Canada before May 16th to get ahead of the delays. Please plan your shipping schedules, accordingly, aiming to have all freight delivered to us between May 2nd and May 16th. It's important to note that as we approach the potential strike date, there may be service disruptions and delays.


By: CIFFA

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