CAW, CN hammer out a new deal

TORONTO (Feb. 18) — Forced to re-visit its collective agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian National Railway agreed to discontinue overtime and offer employees early retirement and other means to avoid layoffs or relocation against their wishes.

The provisions are part of a revised labor agreement with the CAW, which charged the railway with bargaining in bad faith after it announced plans to cut 3000 jobs last October, just weeks after finalizing a new three-year contract with the union.

The CAW appealed to the Canada Labour Board to reopen the collective agreement and restore the right to strike if necessary. The Board recently agreed.

“We demanded an opportunity to bargain,” Hargrove said.

The deal reached this week will make early-retirement packages available for senior employees, a measure designed to protect the jobs of workers with less than 8 years of company service. CN also agreed to train workers to qualify for other types of work rather than face a layoff; a further company-financed 12-week job search in an outside industry which could provide a laid-off CN employee with at least 90% of their CN salary. There will be an additional new three-year period for a laid-off worker to find a vacant CN job (over and above the current three to five years); a review procedure for transferring non-bargaining unit positions to the bargaining unit which opens up more job opportunities.

The provisions are in addition to the existing collective agreement departure provisions.

Following the agreement, the CAW withdrew its bad-faith bargaining charges against CN.

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