CN says Unifor description of company bargaining stance is completely inaccurate

CN actually had near-settlement with Unifor on employee matters in December 2014

Binding arbitration proper forum to address Unifor's recently changed bargaining demands

MONTREAL, Feb.  21, 2015 /CNW/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) expressed disappointment today with Unifor's recent claims that the company is not bargaining in good faith and is trying to force its agenda on the union through a lockout of the union's 4,800 members.

CN had nearly reached an agreement with Unifor on employee matters in late December 2014, when the union unfortunately first introduced its demand that CN make cash contributions to support Unifor's political and community action fund – a demand the company will not accept because it is not prepared to allow financial matters related to the union to take precedence over the interests of its employees.

Unifor, which had not even asked for a strike vote until this week despite six months of negotiations and the fact its contract with CN expired on Dec. 31, 2014, further deviated from this near-settlement when it unreasonably increased many of its demands after negotiating a tentative labour agreement with Canadian Pacific last weekend.

Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive of CN, said: "The fact that CN has amicably negotiated three collective agreements recently with the Teamsters union -- and reached an early contract renewal with the United Steelworkers prior to its agreement expiring at the end of December -- clearly shows that CN can find common ground to benefit its employees.

"If Unifor believes it is advocating the right deal pattern, then the proper forum to get a fair hearing for such a deal pattern is binding arbitration. An independent arbitrator can consider all the facts impartially and decide in fairness what terms are most in line with the interests of CN employees represented by Unifor.

"The issues have never been clearer and the stakes are high now. Failing a negotiated settlement or Unifor's agreement to move forward with binding arbitration this weekend, CN will prepare itself to exercise its right under the Canada Labour Code to lockout Unifor's 4,800 members effective 2300 hours, Monday, Feb. 23. We will deploy our labour disruption contingency plan, with trained management personnel performing the work of Unifor members, in order to protect service to our customers to the best of our ability." Mongeau concluded: "A work stoppage is in no one's interest. Our employees deserve to stay on their jobs, CN's customers need to be served, and Canada' reputation as a trading nation should not be put at risk by a labour dispute that can be avoided. In the spirit of good faith bargaining, we urge Unifor to return to the bargaining table this weekend to settle our differences to avoid a lockout."

Unifor represents approximately 4,800 CN employees in mechanical, intermodal, clerical and other areas of the company's business in Canada.

CN is a true backbone of the economy, transporting more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network spanning Canada and mid-America. CN – Canadian National Railway Company, along with its operating railway subsidiaries -- serves the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information on CN, visit the Company's website at www.cn.ca.

Forward-Looking Statements 

Certain information included in this news release is "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and under Canadian securities laws. CN cautions that, by their nature, these forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The Company cautions that its assumptions may not materialize and that current economic conditions render such assumptions, although reasonable at the time they were made, subject to greater uncertainty. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results or performance of the Company or the rail industry to be materially different from the outlook or any future results or performance implied by such statements.

Important risk factors that could affect the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the effects of general economic and business conditions, industry competition, inflation, currency and interest rate fluctuations, changes in fuel prices, legislative and/or regulatory developments, compliance with environmental laws and regulations, actions by regulators, various events which could disrupt operations, including natural events such as severe weather, droughts, floods and earthquakes, labor negotiations and disruptions, environmental claims, uncertainties of investigations, proceedings or other types of claims and litigation, risks and liabilities arising from derailments, and other risks detailed from time to time in reports filed by CN with securities regulators in Canada and the United States. Reference should be made to "Management's Discussion and Analysis" in CN's annual and interim reports, Annual Information Form and Form 40-F filed with Canadian and U.S. securities regulators, available on CN's website, for a summary of major risks.

CN assumes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect future events, changes in circumstances, or changes in beliefs, unless required by applicable Canadian securities laws. In the event CN does update any forward-looking statement, no inference should be made that CN will make additional updates with respect to that statement, related matters, or any other forward-looking statement.

SOURCE CN

For further information: CN Contacts: Media: Mark Hallman, Director, Communications & Public Affairs, (905) 669-3384; Investment Community: Janet Drysdale, Vice-President, Investor Relations, (514) 399-0052

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