MONTREAL, Que. – CN rail workers, members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, ended their strike in late March.
The workers, including shopcraft, clerical and intermodal employees, ratified new three-year collective agreements retroactive to Jan. 1, 2004. They returned to work on the first daylight shift Sat., March 20.
The settlement ended the strike of 5,000 CAW members, including intermodal workers, which began February 20. Some carriers gained thanks to CN strike, when some shippers switched more cargo from trains to trucks.
“Initially there was a slowdown,” said Robert Volfson, president of Carmel Transport International Ltd., a carrier servicing the Brampton Intermodal Terminal with terminals in both Ontario and Quebec.
“But then we started to see an increase in highway moves between Toronto and Montreal. Some steamship lines decided to truck their containers instead of sending them by rail.”
At the intermodal terminal in Brampton, the slowdown only occurred towards the beginning of the strike, said Volfson.
“On Friday (Feb. 27) there was a six to seven hour wait, because of the picket line, but after that it was okay,” Volfson said.
CN quickly put a stop to slowdowns at its intermodal terminals by getting injunctions against pickets blocking traffic.
Terminals where picket lines came under court orders included those in or near Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Halifax, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
The strike was launched Feb. 20 by the Canadian Auto Workers union (which represents 5,000 shopcraft, clerical and intermodal yard employees) after workers rejected tentative agreements signed by CAW and CN Jan. 23, 2004.
Their existing contracts expired Dec. 31, 2003.
CN and the CAW also reached a settlement with its owner/operators, a unit of 400 intermodal truck drivers who were not on strike.