Rail workers, ‘disrespected’ truckers vote to strike

TORONTO — Nearly 6,000 union workers at both CN Rail and CP Rail are set to walk off the job if the next round of contract negotiations falls apart.

About 3,400 clerical, intermodal workers and shopcraft workers — as well as 575 owner-operators at CN’s trucking subsidiary, CNTL — voted overwhelmingly to strike at midnight on Jan. 25 if a deal can’t be reached next week, says the Canadian Auto Workers said Thursday.

Meanwhile, another 2,100 locomotive mechanics and inspectors at Canadian Pacific Railway set a strike deadline of Feb. 8.

Bargaining between the CAW and both railways resumes on Monday, Jan. 17.

While CN says it hopes to reach a settlement soon, CAW President Ken Lewenza said talks have been challenging with the companies demanding concessions of the workers.

The union says job losses and "lack of respect" towards the truck drivers are the key issues.

CP says that it has contingency plans in place in the event of a strike, including using about 1,200 managers on the front lines.

"CP has recently hired new employees only to tell them months and even weeks later that they are laid off," CAW Local 101 states on its website. "At least 50 CAW members have been laid off across the CP system; 30 on the car side and 20 on the diesel side. As expected, the company blamed the layoffs on the economy and downturn in traffic as people and businesses are not shipping their goods."  

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