CN Rail, union reach quick deal after government threat

The federal government was preparing to stop a strike before it happened

Canadian National Railway Co. reached a deal Feb. 5 to avert a strike by conductors and yard workers after the Conservative government said it would use back-to-work legislation to keep the country’s biggest railway operating.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference gave notice earlier in the day that it intended to strike as soon as Feb. 8 after members voted against a tentative agreement with Canada’s biggest rail operator.

A new three-year agreement is a modification of the tentative pact reached in October, union general chairman Roland Hackl said.

“I’m glad there’s not going to be a strike,” he said, shortly after the deal was reached. He said no details would be released until the deal is ratified.

A work stoppage by about 3,000 conductors, train and yard workers would have disrupted a vast cross-country network that ships goods ranging from lumber and crude oil to grains and automobiles.

Kellie Leitch, the country’s labour minister, had said at a press conference in Ottawa that the government was preparing back-to-work legislation to “protect Canada’s economy and Canadian grain farmers.”

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