Unifor and CN rail reached a deal, avoiding a lock-out of 4,800 workers at midnight last night. The next step is ratification, and over the next three weeks, 4,800 Unifor members will vote on whether or not to ratify a new collective agreement with Canadian National (CN) Railway.
Monday morning, at loggerheads over several issues unrelated to wages, the two sides met in Ottawa, in the hopes of reaching an agreement before the midnight lockout deadline. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services assisted in the negotiations, helping the parties reach common ground on several of the key stumbling blocks, including whether or not CN would make 5 cent per-hour per-worker contributions to Unifor's Canadian Community Fund.
Unifor represents 9,000 railway workers, more than half of whom work at CN. On February 15, the union was able to successfully reach an agreement with Canadian Pacific railway, where they represent 3,000 members. The terms of that contract set the standard which the union hoped to achieve at CN. That agreement included contributions to the Community Fund, as well as funding for women advocates in the workplace to help employes deal with domestic violence both within the workplace and at home.
"We're pleased that we were able to reach a negotiated agreement and avoid a major national lockout of our members," said Unifor President Jerry Dias in a press release, who added that the agreement was unanimously endorsement by all of the Unifor bargaining committees.
Details of the agreement will not be disclosed until after ratification.
Ella Bedard is rabble.ca's labour intern. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People.
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