CN urges Unifor to voluntarily accept binding arbitration this weekend to settle contractual differences

Barring a settlement, CN will exercise its right under Canada Labour Code to lockout 4,800 Unifor members in Canada at 2300 hours Monday, Feb. 23

MONTREAL, Feb.  20, 2015 /CNW/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI), saying its labour negotiations with Unifor have reached an impasse after almost six months of bargaining, today urged the union to accept that binding arbitration is the best way to settle their outstanding contractual differences. Barring such an agreement over the weekend, CN will exercise its right under the Canada Labour Code to lockout Unifor's 4,800 members at CN at 2300 hours, Monday, Feb. 23.

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

Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN, said: "The differences separating the company and union are as clear as they will ever be, and they will not become any clearer over a month-long strike mandate process announced yesterday by Unifor.

"Our impasse is not about charity. CN already supports many charities and is willing to support charitable causes jointly with Unifor, but our principles are clear -- we are not prepared to allow financial matters related to the union itself to take precedence over the interest of our employees.

"CN insists that Unifor focus on bargaining what matters: the terms and conditions that apply to our employees. Unifor believes CN should match the terms of its recent settlement with Canadian Pacific, but that's not the right deal pattern. Our complete settlement offers to Unifor, the last union we are currently bargaining with, are fair, competitive and fully in line with the amicable contract renewals that we have recently bargained with four other unions at CN, including the Teamsters. Our offers to Unifor did not require any meaningful concessions to work rules or pension. They would also maintain Unifor-represented employees working at CN among the highest paid in their trades in the Canadian rail industry.

"We cannot accept the uncertainty that Unifor's month-long strike mandate process will create for our customers, our employees and the gateways we serve. Canada's trade reputation deserves labour certainty as we conclude this round of bargaining in the rail industry.  

"We also don't need government intervention at this time.  CN and Unifor on their own can reach a resolution of their differences through binding arbitration. It's a tried process that we both have used many times in the past. The issues separating the parties are clear, and that clarity will allow an arbitrator to make an informed decision about what is the most suitable deal pattern for our employees.

"CN hopes Unifor will agree to this reasonable path forward, and sit down with CN over the weekend to reach either a negotiated settlement on the terms and conditions of employment for employees, or refer our dispute to binding arbitration.

"Failing that – and in lieu of a lengthy and unnecessary Unifor strike mandate process – CN will 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.

"We hope Unifor leadership will see the merits of this sensible approach and work with us to avoid the prospects of an unfortunate lockout of their members on Monday."

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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