CN, UNIFOR REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT, AVOIDING LOCKOUT
JOC Staff | Feb 24, 2015 9:36AM EST

Canadian National Railway late Monday night withdrew its threat to lockout 4,800 union members after the railroad reached a tentative labor agreement with Unifor.

A lockout could have hampered intermodal service as the second-largest Canadian railroad experiences a surge of volume from U.S. shippers diverting cargo through Canadian ports, namely Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert, to avoid U.S. West Coast port congestion. CN had warned on Friday that it would lockout union employees involved in mechanical, intermodal, clerical and other types of work at 11 p.m. EST on Monday if an agreement wasn’t reached.

“We are very pleased that the company and union were able to find common ground on a tentative new labour contract,” CN President and CEO Claude Mongeau said in a statement. “ This settlement forecloses the prospect of a potential labour disruption that would have harmed CN’s employees, its customers and the Canadian economy.”

CN said details of the tentative agreement were being withheld until Unfor rank-and-file members voted on the deal. Unfor is expected to announce the results of its ratification vote in three weeks. It’s not clear how the tentative agreement addresses the main sticking point in negotiations that lasted eight months: CN’s refusal to pay into the union’s community fund.

“We were able to find solutions to the concerns raised by our members – this is best achieved at the bargaining table,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a statement.