CP strike ends after railroad, union agree to arbitration
Date: Feb 16, 2015
Source: Journal of Commerce

Canadian Pacific Railway and union locomotive engineers and conductors have agreed to enter into binding government arbitration, ending a strike that began Sunday and could have severely crippled U.S. and Canadian supply chains.

Full freight service is expected to resume Tuesday morning. The announcement, made on Monday afternoon, ends the strike of more than 3,000 Teamsters Canada Rail Conference workers that began midnight Sunday after the union and second-largest Canadian freight railroad failed to reach an agreement. The resulting reduced CP freight services would have hurt not just Canadian shippers, but also U.S. shippers that have diverted cargo away from U.S. West Coast ports through Canadian gateways, namely Port Metro Vancouver.

“This decision ensures both sides will get back to the table, and gets us back to moving Canada’s economy forward,” CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison said in a statement. “While we would have preferred a negotiated settlement, this is the right thing to do at this time.”

CP said the federal government would appoint an arbitrator, but said no other details were being released. The union didn’t issue an immediate statement, but ahead of the agreement had protested the threat of back-to-work legislation from Ottawa, saying the Harper government was favoring the railroad.

The union said talks with CP broke down over working conditions, namely CP’s refusal to honor collective agreements requiring train crews to rest after 10 straight hours of work. The Teamsters have also accused the railroad of not giving the majority of its members “accurate information” on when they are expected to work.

This will bring an end to the work stoppage that could have seriously harmed the Canadian economy,” Kellie Leitch, Canada’s minister of labor, said in a statement. “I applaud both parties for coming to this agreement that will ensure the continuation of Canada’s rail services.”