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.
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