CN reaches contract deal with train crews

Fri Oct 1, 2010 9:53pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway and the union representing 2,700 conductors, trainmen and yard crews reached a tentative deal on Friday, averting a possible labor showdown at Canada's largest rail carrier.

The railroad said the agreement was for a three-year contract, but other details of the agreement were not released pending a ratification vote by the workers represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.

The union confirmed the deal in a statement. A union spokesman said further details would be provided to the public once they had been distributed to their membership.

CN had threatened to impose new work rules on the Canadian-based workers next week if a contract deal was not released, and both sides were in a legal position to launch job action if the fight came to a head.

A labor conciliator working with the sides had recommended a deal that included wage and benefit improvements comparable with those granted to other CN employees and a deferral of contentious issues such as crew scheduling.

Workers have complained that the railroad's current scheduling system created safety issues because crews could not get the rest they needed.

The wage increases in the conciliator's recommended plan were 2.4 percent, 2.6 percent and 3 percent over a three-year period.

The Canadian workers have been without a contract since July 22. The contract negotiations did not involve workers on Canadian National's lines in the United States, who work under different labor agreements.

(Reporting Allan Dowd and Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Carol Bishopric)