Canadian Manufacturing

Workers could face back-to-work law despite tentative deal with CN

Unclear whether federal labour minister will withdraw warning or leave it in place until new deal ratified

February 6, 2014  by Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—There will be a lot of talk about Canada’s rail system in Ottawa after the federal government threatened back-to-work legislation to halt what appeared to be a looming strike at CN Rail.

Shortly after Labour Minister Kellie Leitch announced the impending legislation, CN and the Teamsters union announced a new tentative agreement.

It’s not yet clear whether the Conservatives will withdraw the threat, or leave it in place until the deal is ratified.

Shortly after CN announced a strike by conductors and yard workers would be averted following a tentative labour deal, Leitch released a statement praised management and employees for coming together on a deal but issued an eerie warning about any future disruptions.


“Our government will not hesitate to put the interests of the economy and hard-working grain farmers and workers first,” the statement from Leitch read.

The tentative deal between CN and members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union covers 3,000 train and yard workers across Canada.

CN said the deal would last three years, but details will remain under wraps until after a union-wide vote.

“CN has offered to work closely with the union leadership to explain the terms of the agreement to union members over the next 45 days to help ensure a successful ratification of the agreement,” Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said in a statement released to announce the agreement.

—With files from Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff