Union agreement enables Canadian National to pull Kelowna Pacific Railway from bankruptcy and get trains back on track in North Okanagan to boost local economy
VERNON, BC, Sept. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Teamsters Canada is delighted to announce a hard-fought deal with Canadian National that means railway service will restart in the North Okanagan after almost three months without it when the Kelowna Pacific Railway filed for bankruptcy on July 5.
The declared bankruptcy brought to a halt shipments over 170 kilometres of track from Kelowna to Vernon and through Lumby and Falkland and north to Campbell creek. Rail service on the line dates back more than 100 years.
"I lived and worked in the Okanagan for 30 years and I know how important the railway is to the area," says William Brehl, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, Maintenance of Way Employees Division. "Partnering with CN means saving our members' jobs and restoring a transportation link that is vital to the local economy."
The deal goes beyond Teamsters jobs, Brehl says, adding "KPR was moving about 16,000 cars of products per year on track that is in disrepair. CN is committed to bringing the track up to standard and that can mean more jobs in so many other parts of the local economy as more and more goods are cost-effectively transported."
The two weeks of negotiations were tough, but both sides worked to the same goal of restarting vital freight transportation through this part of British Columbia.
Brehl says 20 workers will return to the job as early as Monday with perhaps more jobs in the coming months. Under the terms of the deal, which still must be ratified by union members, these Teamsters will receive the stability of a five-year contract with a total increase of 15 per cent in wages over the life of the contract.
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees Division (TCRC-MWED), a division of Teamsters Canada, represents more than 4,000 maintenance of way workers at more than 20 short line railroads across Canada and at CP Rail. Its members are involved in inspecting, monitoring and repairing the tracks, bridges and structures on the network. TCRC-MWED's mission is to make sure that the railway is safe, in spite of any economic, managerial or other obstacles.
SOURCE: TEAMSTERS CANADA RAIL CONFERENCE, MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES DIVISION
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