Conductors and engineers employed with CP Rail announced a strike vote authorization for April 21 late last week. Wikipedia photo.

B.C. conductors, engineers with CP Rail authorize strike action

CP Rail, Teamsters union negotiating new labour agreement that expired in December.

The union representing engineers and conductors employed with CP Rail voted to authorize strike action as early as April 21, according to an announcement made last week.

With a 94 per cent margin in favour, the strike authorization affects 3,000 members across Canada and ‘a few hundred’ in the southeast corner of BC, according to a Teamsters Canada Rail Conference spokesperson.

The last contract between the two sides expired at the end of December 2017, while a one-year ratification vote was rejected by union members in November after an initial agreement was struck a few months earlier.

The union argues that rising profits are based off cuts, layoffs, closures and working crews to the point of exhaustion, according to a press release. The union also charges that CP’s profits in 2017 reached $2.4 billion, even while sales were stagnant.

“Despite our best efforts to negotiate in good faith, we have come to a point where Teamsters are prepared to go on strike for the third time in six years to obtain a fair and reasonable contract renewal,” said Doug Finnson, President, TCRC. “We will do everything in our power to reach a negotiated settlement at CP, but one that is acceptable to our members and that addresses the major issues that exist with this employer.”

The TCRC press release accuses CP Rail of forcing train crews to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and pushing them to ‘work well beyond their point of exhaustion.’

CP Rail disputes that claim, in an email response by a company spokesperson.

“Contrary to what was said in the Teamsters’ press release, conductors’ and engineers’ Collective Agreements provide the ability to take 24 hours rest at home upon the completion of a train trip,” reads an emailed statement from the company.

“Furthermore, and despite what has been suggested by the Union, our engineers and conductors have many voluntary rest opportunities, as documented in their collective agreements, to ensure they get the time off they need between shifts and they are not forced to be available 24/7.”

The CP Rail statement says the company is continuing talks with the TCRC – Train & Engine, pointing to a number of successful agreements made in 2017 with unions representing the Canadian Pacific Police Association, TCRC Maintenance of Way Employees Division, and administrative and intermodal employees with the United Steelworkers Local 1976.

“Negotiations with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – Train & Engine, representing our Canadian engineers and conductors, continue in earnest,” according to the statement. “That said, despite our best efforts and commitment to fair, equitable and early bargaining, a significant gap remains.”

The TCRC notes that a ratification vote is currently underway for a new contract between it’s members and Canadian National, a rival competitor of CP Rail.

Last year, the company shifted 73 locomotive engineer and conductor jobs from Cranbrook to Sparwood in order to make operations more efficient.

Just Posted

Mountain biker rescued

An injured mountain biker has been rescued by Fernie Search and Rescue.

Cameras to capture airborne dust

The District of Sparwood will install two cameras to document airborne dust caused by a nearby mine.

Housing affordability in spotlight

Elkford residents will soon learn the results of a survey on affordable housing for seniors.

Veteran golfer reflects on club anniversary

With a spring in his step, Patsy Caravetta hops up the steps… Continue reading

30 degrees and warmer forecasted with heat wave in B.C.

The weather could stay well into next week, according to Environment Canada

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

RCMP identify Beasley body, foul play suspected

The remains of Lemar Halimi were discovered in May

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Reena Virk’s mother has died

Both of Virk’s parents became activists against bullying in wake of daughter’s death

Most Read