2024 02 19 – (E) TCRC Membership Collective Bargaining Update (CN and CPKC)

2024 02 19 – (E) TCRC Membership Collective Bargaining Update (CN and CPKC)

February 19, 2024

All TCRC Members,

As you are likely aware the TCRC is in an unprecedented position of having 3 major Collective

Agreements expire on December 31st, 2023 (Running Trade members at CPKC and CN, Rail Traffic

Controllers at CPKC). All three bargaining committees commenced negotiation talks in the fall and

have continued to make every good faith effort to attain agreement(s) that the membership would

ratify. Unfortunately, it has become very clear that the carriers do not have that same objective.

On Friday, February 16th both CN and CPKC served Notice of Dispute to the Federal Government

regarding all three Collective Agreements. These Notices were served within minutes of each

other, and not during any active collective bargaining session(s). In fact, the last scheduled sessions

took place the week of January 29th, during which the TCRC was faced with resistance from the

carriers when attempting to secure future bargaining dates.

What does this mean? From a legal perspective, serving notice of dispute means enacting Section

71 of the Canada Labour Code to notify the Federal Government the parties have failed to reach

an agreement. Normally this would indicate the parties are at an impasse and require assistance

in the bargaining process. The Minister of Labour then has several options (as contained in Section

72) in which they can respond. What this has usually meant in the past is that the Minister directs

a conciliation officer to be appointed through its federal agency (FMCS), to act as an intermediary

to reach an agreement between the parties.

The appointment of a conciliation officer must happen within 15 days of the Notice of Dispute.

This is then followed by a 60-day conciliation period in which negotiations will continue with the

aid of the officer appointed. This 60-day period can be mutually extended by the parties, otherwise

it will conclude and be followed by a 21 day “cooling off” period. The earliest a legal strike or

lockout could occur is at the expiration of the 81 days, with the Union having secured a strike

mandate from the membership and followed by either party serving 72 hours notice.

What does this mean to the membership? With regards to the legal process each committee will

be seeking a strike mandate to properly respond should the conciliation process not yield a

collective agreement(s). A strike vote does not mean there absolutely will be a strike but is

required under the Code (Section 87.3(1)), before that right is legally acquired.

Regarding the Collective Bargaining process, your respective bargaining committees remain

steadfast in achieving terms that will be ratified by you, the affected members. Both carriers have

enjoyed unprecedented growth and financial success over the past number of years. Denying

employees the right to share that success is simply a non-starter.

To the contrary, both CPKC and CN are focused on stripping existing rights instead of building a

relationship and treating the membership with the respect it deserves. A glaring example of the

carrier’s contempt for both its employees and regulation is the outright refusal to properly

implement DRPR (Duty and Rest Period Rules) recommendations, in light of their full involvement

and input during the consultation phase. The membership experiences the worsening of work

fatigue and unpredictability daily, yet the carriers refuse to accept the guidance of Transport

Canada regarding the reset break application. Why?

One can surmise endlessly, but what is becoming abundantly clear is that CPKC and CN have

actively colluded on several fronts designed to undermine the membership’s rights and the TCRC’s

ability to represent. Both carriers have refused to implement Transport Canada’s

recommendations regarding DRPR. Both carriers are seeking astonishingly similar concessions at

the bargaining table. And now both carriers have served Notice of Dispute on the same day, for

numerous Collective Agreements, within minutes of each other. There is certainly a pattern


What is their strategy? The TCRC has been and remains willing to continue the bargaining process

in good faith, yet the carriers seem intent on rushing towards a work stoppage. A stoppage on a

scale that Canada has likely never experienced. That has not been and never will be the TCRC’s

strategy. However, CN and CPKC appear to be willing to play with the Canadian economy and force

the government to intervene as a result. The TCRC believes CPKC and CN need to be called out on

their outrageous behaviour and actions.

That is not to say the TCRC will not exercise its charter rights and take action to protect the

membership’s interests if necessary. This letter comes to you from all 3 affected bargaining

committees as we remain stronger together – as does the membership. Each committee will

continue to focus on their own processes and will update affected members accordingly, but it

was felt a united message and update was required regarding these egregious recent events.

In the coming days arrangements will begin regarding a strike vote(s). Information will continue to

be available on existing websites and social media as before, but we encourage the membership

to sign up for the TCRC App. We will be ramping up its usage during this process and notifications

will be pushed as soon as possible.

We also ask every Division Executive Officer to begin steps to ensure their membership

information is up to date. The TCRC can only poll members we can contact, so please work with

your respective General Committee to help in that process.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, we remain,

In Solidarity,

Dave Fulton Greg Lawrenson,

General Chairman – CP CTY West General Chairman – CP LE West

Mark Kernaghan Jim Lennie

General Chairman – CN LE Central General Chairman – CN CTY Central

Wayne Apsey Ed Mogus

General Chairman – CP CTY East General Chairman – CP LE East

R.S. Donegan KC James

General Chairman – CN CTY West General Chairman – CN LE West

Jean-Michel Halle Alain Gatien

General Chairman – CN LE East General Chairman – CN CTY East

Jason Bailey Paul Boucher

General Chairman – CP RCTC National President – TCRC

Ryan Finnson Chris Lowe

National Vice President – TCRC National Secretary-Treasurer – TCRC

Don Ashley

National Legislative Director – TCRC