Canadian rail contract talks at impasse, strike vote possible -union

Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:01pm EST
 
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TORONTO Feb 18 (Reuters) - Protracted contract talks between Canadian National Railway Co and the union that represents 4,800 of its mechanical, clerical and intermodal staff are at an impasse and the union says it is considering a strike vote.

The Montreal-based company said in a statement on Wednesday that it plans to make unilateral changes by Feb. 20 to the labor accord that covers workers represented by the Unifor union, if the union does not agree to a new deal by that time. The current contract expired on Dec. 31, 2014.

Unifor Rail Director Brian Stevens said union leadership is meeting on Thursday in Montreal and is set to endorse moving forward on a strike vote. Stevens said that the process will take some weeks because the union has to get the support of its members, who are spread across some half a dozen locals.

Stevens, who criticized CN Rail's move to unilaterally make changes to the existing labor agreement, said "In our view, CN Rail is attempting to manufacture a labor relations crisis where one isn't needed." (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Grant McCool)