Teamsters Canada End 1-Day Strike and Agree to Arbitration with Canadian Pacific
Friday, February, 27, 2015
After being on strike for one day, Teamsters Canada has agreed to return its members to work and enter formal arbitration with Canadian Pacific Railway to settle an ongoing contract dispute. The second-largest rail system in Canada is expected to be back at 100% capacity within one day. The union’s decision to agree to arbitration may have been influenced by the announced intentions of the government to introduce legislation that would legally require the workers to return to their jobs.
The 3,000 workers represented by Teamsters Canada had balked at contract negotiations due to disputes over schedules and time off. The workers claim that current scheduling practices often result in fatigued and under-rested workers operating trains at dangerous levels of exhaustion. Canadian Pacific counters that their policies are clearly within the boundaries of the law and that sufficient off-time is provided for in their latest contractual offering.
Over the last few years the unions and government have been playing a “cat and mouse” game regarding back-to-work legislation. The unions are loathing seeing such legislation passed, which would take away their most powerful weapon, the strike. However, every time they have proposed or called for a strike, the legislation is invariably put forward as a way of forcing them back to work in practice.
Both sides claim to want arbitration and to prefer the negotiated settlement. Whether or not common ground can be found on the new contract remains to be seen.